As the heat rises across London this bank holiday, THT brings you their top tips for keeping safe as we emerge from lockdown and start to meet each other in person once again and get ready for a HOT! Summer.
Getting Checked: Did you know…you can have an STI without showing any symptoms?
Lockdown has meant that you may not have gotten checked in a long time – but many people with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) do not get symptoms, so it’s worth getting tested even if you feel fine.
If left untreated STIs can affect your health. If you think you have an STI, the earlier you’re tested, the sooner treatment can be given if it’s needed.
Getting checked is easy and free. It’s recommended you test for HIV at least once a year and more regularly if you’ve had unprotected sex or more than one partner.
Consent: Once social distancing rules ease up, the sex you choose to have should be fun and pleasurable. It’s good to discuss your likes, dislikes, and what you are happy doing with a partner/s beforehand. Sexual consent means freely agreeing to sexual activity.
Remember, you can withdraw consent at any time during sex if you want to stop. If you are unsure if someone is consenting then it’s simple, just ask!
Drugs and alcohol: Drugs and alcohol often increase the chances of you having unprotected sex. Additionally, they also affect people’s ability to effectively communicate and establish consent.
Be prepared by having condoms and lube. If you know you are likely to be having sex under the influence of alcohol and drugs, you may also want to consider taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as a form of HIV protection.
Contraception: Did you know… there are 13 different types of contraception to choose from?
Sex may have been on ‘pause’ during the latest lockdown. This may change once restrictions ease, so it’s the perfect time to consider using contraception to get prepared.
There are many types of contraception you can use to protect you or your partner from pregnancy. From oral contraceptive pills, long-acting reversible methods, to condoms.
Condoms and Lube: Using lube with condoms makes sex safer and more pleasurable. It reduces the risk of cuts in the skin, and can also prevent condom tearing. Only use water-based lube with condoms.
Get free condoms and lube from:
· sexual health clinics
· some doctor’s surgeries
· community pharmacies
· some sexual health charities.
Buying condoms and lube online is cheaper and there is a greater range to choose from. Visit www.startswithme.org.uk
PrEP: Did you know… there is a pill you can take before sex to stop you getting HIV?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication that someone without HIV can take. It will stop them from getting HIV during sex without a condom.
It is highly effective at preventing HIV, but it does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or unplanned pregnancy.
PEP: Did you know… you can still prevent getting HIV after the virus has entered the body? If you think you have been exposed to HIV, then PEP could help.
PEP is a treatment that can stop an HIV infection after the virus has entered a person’s body. To work, PEP must be taken within 72 hours (three days), and ideally should be taken within 24 hours.
For even more tips and advice, go to www.startswithme.org.uk
Produced by Terrence Higgins Trust 2021.