- You haven’t got symptoms but are worried that you might have an STI.
- You have symptoms (such as unusual discharge).
- You have the feeling that something is wrong.
If you’re currently having sex with someone, either stop or make sure you use a condom until you know for sure if you have an STI. Your partner should get tested too.
You can get free, confidential advice and treatment from your GP or from specialist clinics in your area (even if you’re under 16). Most hospitals have special clinics called genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics that give tests and treatment for STIs. There are also lots of places that are set up especially for young people.
Most STIs can be treated easily, so don’t be scared of having a test and getting a positive result.
- Your GP surgery.
- Some pharmacies.
- A sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic.
- A community contraceptive clinic.
- The Department of Health’s sexual health helpline (call 0800 567123).
You can also buy a pregnancy test to do yourself at home, from a pharmacy or supermarket. Find out more about doing a pregnancy test here.
If you’re pregnant and it is unplanned, you must decide whether to continue with the pregnancy or end the pregnancy by having an abortion. The sooner an abortion is done, the easier and safer it is. But you might want to take time to make your decision. This is why it’s important to know as soon as possible if you are pregnant.
No one needs to know that you’re pregnant until you’re ready to tell them. You can ask to see a female doctor if that would make you feel more comfortable. If you decide to continue with the pregnancy, start your antenatal (pregnancy) care as soon as possible. This includes health checks for you and your baby. Your GP can talk to you about this.
To avoid pregnancy, a woman can either:
- Take the emergency contraceptive pill (sometimes called the morning-after pill) up to 72 hours (three days) or 120 hours (five days) after having unprotected sex, depending on the type of pill.
- Have an IUD (sometimes called a coil) fitted up to five days after unprotected sex.
If your next period doesn’t arrive when you expect it to, take a pregnancy test. If you have sex without a condom, or the condom splits or comes off, you’re also at risk of getting an STI (find out how to use a condom). If this happens and you’re worried you have caught an STI, you can get confidential help and advice in your local area, with free testing for STIs, at:
- A sexual health or genitourinary medicine clinic.
- Some community contraceptive clinics.
- Some GPs.
If you’re having sex, don’t rely on emergency contraception to stop you getting pregnant. There are lots of contraceptive options you can choose from.
Talk to a nurse or doctor at a clinic or GP surgery about what contraception is right for you. Condoms are the only method that can protect you from both STIs and pregnancy. Use them along with your chosen method of contraception.
You can also contact a sexual assault referral centre (SARC), where you can get specialist support and medical care if you have been sexually assaulted. A sexual assault can happen anywhere, including in your home, and is more likely to be done by someone you know than a stranger.
Find rape and sexual assault support services, including SARCs. You can also ask at your GP surgery, contraceptive clinic or sexual health clinic. Find out more about what to do if you have been sexually assaulted, or if it has happened to someone you know, over here.
Some medicines, such as antibiotics, can prevent the Pill from working properly. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist to advise you on this if they’re giving you any medicines. If you have any doubt about whether your contraceptive pill is affected, use condoms while taking medication and for seven days afterwards.
If you’re sick (vomit) within three hours of taking the pill, it might not work properly and you’ll need to use condoms as well for seven days.
If you have diarrhoea keep taking the pill as usual. But while you’re unwell and for seven days afterwards, also use condoms.
Keep taking the pill and see your doctor, nurse or pharmacist as soon as possible for advice. Use condoms to make sure you are still fully protected.
You can also go to:
- The FPA website. FPA is a provider of information on individual methods of contraception, common sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy choices, abortion and planning a pregnancy.
- The Ask Brook website. Brook is the young people’s sexual health charity for under-25s.
Find out more about the different contraceptive methods here.
There is no cure for HIV, but there are treatments to enable most people with the virus to live a long and healthy life.
AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, when your body can no longer fight life-threatening infections. With early diagnosis and effective treatment, most people with HIV will not go on to develop AIDS.
The only way to find out if you have HIV is to have an HIV test. If you think you have put yourself at risk of HIV, you should seek medical advice and have a test as soon as recommended. The earlier HIV is detected, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful.
Emergency anti-HIV medication called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, or ‘PEPs’ may stop you becoming infected, but treatment must be started within three days of coming into contact with the virus.
Most HIV tests in the UK involve taking a small sample of blood and sending this to a laboratory for analysis.
Source: NHS Choices. (2012). HIV and AIDS [Online]. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/HIV/Pages/Introduction.aspx [Accessed: 7th July 2014].
The information provided on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it.