STI alert: Avoid brief encounters


The NHS is using posters as part of their national campaign for regular checks and using condomss. | Photo: NHS

In the build up to national condom week which runs from 18th to 24th May, The Linc is looking into the importance of practising safe sex.

Condoms are not just a means of contraception, and with 1,360 cases of Chlamydia dealt with by sexual health clinics in Lincolnshire between 1st April 2008 and 31st March 2009, it is an issue that cannot be ignored.

Nurse Consultant in sexual health, Susan Collins, is keen for students to take their sexual health seriously and come forward if they feel they have any problems especially as Chlamydia affects one in ten 15-25 year-olds.

Collins and her colleagues run appointments at the University of Lincoln on Thursdays from 1pm until 6:30pm as well as one Saturday morning a month and she urges students to be open and honest about any issues they may have.

Collins said: “It is best to acknowledge the situation and deal with it quickly despite any embarrassment”.

Chlamydia can be a dangerous disease but if it is treated quickly it can be cleared up by a simple course of antibiotics. The symptoms vary slightly for men and women. Men can experience discharge from their penis, an itchy urethra (the urinary tube in your penis) and achy testicles. Women can also experience discharge and vaginal itching as well as an ache in their lower abdomen.

Worryingly you can have Chlamydia without experiencing any of the symptoms and still pass it on to other people. For this reason it is sensible to have regular check ups.

Nurse Collins said: “You should be tested every six months to every year but it is most sensible to come in for a test whenever you find a new sexual partner.”

The sexual health clinic aims to make its service easy and accessible and that is why it is run out of the PCT Health Centre on campus. Students can make appointments via a central booking line and can also be referred to a councillor over the phone.

As well as this there is a relatively new service where Chlamydia self testing kits are available by mail. They are easy to use and men simply take a urine sample and women perform a swab sample.

Collins said: “We try and make it easy for people to come and see us by being on campus but the Chlamydia self-testing kit by mail is proving very successful and results are just as accurate as being tested at the clinic.”

Former student Richard (24) is from Lincolnshire and he found out he was carrying Chlamydia when he visited a clinic.

It’s one of those things you think you’ll never get so it comes as a shock. It is a big relief after confronting it though as it was easy to sort out. It’s hard to tell partners too; I had to tell one of her friends as I didn’t want to face her but we all get on again now,” said Richard.

Informing sexual partners is one of the hardest aspects of dealing with an STI . The majority of people manage to do this but with the patient’s consent the nurses can inform them on your behalf. Nurse Collins has had to do this before and assures it is not as bad as it first seems.

“People who are contacted are shocked at first but with explanations and support to attend a clinic for screening and treatment they are normally just relieved, particularly as many will have suspected that there was a problem. Notifying partners is a very important part in treating STIs as, if left untreated, they can have life changing effects for individuals,” said Collins.

Catching an STI is an easy mistake to make especially in an environment like university, but Collins pointed out how clued up and mature the Lincoln students she deals with actually are.

“Once they have been treated the people who have been unfortunate to catch an STI come in for regular check ups and don’t tend to need treatment again,” she said.

There are other common infections such as Genital Warts and Genital Herpes but if you suspect you may have an issue or simply have not had a check up for a while it is important to come forward.

The central booking line number is 01522 539145 and a useful website concerning Chlamydia is www.doyouhaveit.co.uk

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