Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are infections transmitted through sexual intercourse or genital contact. Infections with STIs may not always cause signs or symptoms (asymptomatic infection), which is why sexually active adults are recommended to get an STI check. Furthermore, these asymptomatic infections can be passed to current or future sexual partners.
A sexual health check is not more scary or intimidating than a usual visit to the doctor. For all patients, this typically entails answering routine questions on their sexual history to enable more accurate ordering of tests and treatment (if needed). This will be followed by a physical examination if relevant.
For men, the typical tests would be both a combination of blood and urine tests.
For females, the typical tests would include a combination of blood, urine tests and possibly vaginal swabs and pap smears.
Patient who have had anal sex may also get anal swabs which may cause minimal/temporary discomfort. Throat swabs may also need to be done for patients who have performed oral sex.
The most common symptoms of STIs are genital discharge and a burning sensation when passing urine (typical of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Infections).
Other common symptoms include genital ulcers (e.g. in syphilis or herpes infections), new genital growths (Genital warts ) or wide spread rashes ( Syphilis).
If in doubt, do get your symptoms checked out by a dermatologist, and also get your partner screened too.
Generally for bacterial STIs (chlamydia /syphilis/ gonorrhea), these may include oral or injected antibiotics. Genital warts may be treated similarly to viral warts elsewhere on the body.
Viral STIs (Herpes etc) may require courses of oral antiviral medications.
Post Exposure Prophylaxis or PEP refers to taking a course of anti-retroviral medication in the event that you might have been exposed to the HIV virus to avoid getting infected.
You should consider getting PEP if you are HIV negative or do not know your HIV status and within the last 72 hours:
This is only meant to be used in emergency purposes and must be started within the 72 hour window.
If you think you might need PEP, it is important that you start it as soon as possible. Please contact our specialists for an urgent consultation.
The newer medications used for PEP are generally well tolerated, and the most common side effects tend to be nausea, headaches and fatigue.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PreP is when people at high risk of acquiring HIV take regular HIV medications to reduce their chance of getting infected. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. It is highly effective for preventing HIV if used as prescribed, but it is much less effective when not taken consistently
PrEP is for HIV-negative adults and adolescents who are at very high risk for getting HIV from sex or injection drug use.
Talk to your specialist about your suitability for PrEP.
Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90% when used consistently
PrEP can cause mild side effects like nausea initially but these tend to subside with time. Generally no serious side effects have been observed with PrEP, although blood tests have to be done before and after starting on PrEP to ensure that it is safe for you to start and continue on PrEP.