STI Risk Factors

What behaviour puts you at a greater risk of an STI?

One of the key processes of an STI Consultation is understanding the probability of catching an infection and which one(s) is more likely.  As a result, you can choose appropriate tests to make sure that everything is fine with your sexual health.

Note: Most STIs go undetected. That means you might have (and pass on) an STI without knowing it.

STI vs STD: A Quick Note

An STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) is when a bacteria or a virus gets into a body – it can be present in the body without any symptoms.

An STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) is used when the STI (or infection) starts to exhibit signs or symptoms.

On our website, we will use STI (instead of STD) to ensure simplicity, unless stated otherwise.

The risk of catching an STI is not the same for everybody

In order to understand the risk of your exposure, we may try and determine whether you have engaged in any of the following activities (in no specific order): 

  • You (or your partner) have multiple sexual partners
  • You (or your partner) pay for sexual activity
  • You (or your partner) have had an STI in the past
  • You (or your partner) are a Man who has Sex with other Men (MSM)
  • You (or your partner) engage  in ChemSex
  • You (or your partner) are an Intra-Venous Drug User (IVDU)
  • You (or your partner) have engaged in sexual activity with someone with an STI
  • You have had unprotected sex with a new partner
  • You (or your partner) have unprotected sex with someone born outside of the UK in a high-risk country (the prevalence of STIs varies from country to country)

For Women, we advise further caution by ensuring you get tested (as appropriate) without delay. The key reason is that you may be subject to more serious consequences by leaving an STI untreated. This may include problems like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), infertility and complications during pregnancy.

For men with female partners, there is a lower risk of developing a serious long-term problem and they show symptoms more frequently than women. However, an important benefit of regular testing is minimizing the risk of infecting their female partner(s), who might experience more serious consequences.

For men with male partners, the presence of other STIs increases the risk of acquiring HIV when exposed to it. To avoid this, regular check ups are recommended (as appropriate).

Please Note

The factors above are just some of the important risk factors specialists consider. As an STI may be present in your body without symptoms, to make sure you are fine it is also important to ensure the right tests are selected, at the right time.

This will be discussed in your consultation, with tests and treatment also available as appropriate.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

FAQs

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Can I discuss my risks with a sexual health clinician?

Yes. Every STI appointment includes an STI Consultation whereby you can discuss the risks you may be at with an expert. Any tests and treatments, as appropriate, can be provided during this time.

What tests will I need?

Every STI appointment begins with an STI Consulation. During this, your clinician will understand your sexual history, symptoms you may have and determine the risks you may be at. Following this, the appropriate tests will be recommended to you with ample time to carry them out.

If I'm at high risk, can you offer prevention?

If you have been involved in higher risk activity then it might be worth discussing the following with an experienced clinician (available from our clinics):
 

  • Hepatitis A vaccine
  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • HIV PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) – taken within 72 hours of exposure

Who will I see?

All appointments are with an experienced sexual health Nurse or Doctor, who have spent most of their career in the NHS. They will be able to consult, test and treat you.