Everyone should look after their sexual health. Being informed is a great first step to taking control of your sexual health and wellbeing.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections, which are transmitted through close body and sexual contact including; oral, anal, vaginal or front-hole sex, along with touching your sexual partner’s penis, anus, vagina or front-hole. STIs can be viruses (HIV, herpes, genital warts, or hepatitis A, B, and C), bacteria (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, LGV, syphilis, shigella, meningococcal C), or parasites (crabs, scabies).
Signs and Symptoms
Many STIs have minor or no symptoms, you may have an STI and not know about it.
Common signs that you may have an STI include:
- Unusual discharge from your penis, vagina, front-hole or anus;
- Itching or stinging when urinating or ejaculating;
- Pain or discomfort around your genital area; and
- Redness, sores, blisters or rashes in the genital area.
Testing is the only way to find out if you have an STI. If you’re sexually active, it’s recommended that you get a sexual health check every 3 months. For people in monogamous relationships, it’s recommended to be tested at least once a year.
Getting tested for STIs can be a quick, easy and painless process. The more often you get tested, the more comfortable you will become with the process. It will become a normal part of maintaining your sexual health.
Getting tested for STIs is important for both you and for your sexual partners!
For more information on STIs, what is involved when getting a sexual health test, and to prevent STIs check out The Drama Downunder.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is a HIV prevention strategy that combines antiretroviral medication with STI quarterly testing. PrEP is shown to be able to reduce the chances of getting HIV by upwards of 99%. Read more in our PrEP section.
Post-Exposure Prophylaxis is a highly effective treatment that can prevent HIV after exposure, but must be started within 72 Hours of a possible risk exposure. Read our PEP section for more.
Undetectable Viral Load (UVL)
Undetectable viral load (UVL) is when the level of the virus in the body of someone living with HIV is reduced through treatment to a point that it cannot be detected by a test. This does not mean that their body is free or cured of HIV. It means that there so few copies of the virus in their blood that it’s undetectable.
In fact, all HIV positive people with an undetectable viral load still have HIV in their blood, as well as in blood cells, tissue and other bodily fluids. HIV-positive people on sustained HIV treatment are commonly able to maintain their viral load at low or undetectable levels.
Most importantly someone living with HIV with a sustained undetectable viral load CANNOT pass on HIV to their sexual partners.
UVL is the most effective way to prevent passing on HIV to sexual partners.
Condoms and Lube
Together, condoms and lubricant are highly effective tools for looking after your sexual health and preventing a range of STIs. SAMESH provides them for free to LGBTI communities and people living with HIV.