TEST & PEP /
Condoms provide by far the best protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but they still don’t provide 100% protection. Even if you always use a condom, it may be a good idea to get tested for STIs. There are different STIs and they can affect you in different ways. Untreated STIs have a negative impact on the body, sometimes without the person noticing. If you have an STI it could also increase your susceptibility to other STIs and HIV. So it’s a good idea to get tested regularly, even if you don’t have any signs or symptoms of an infection. By getting tested, you take control of your own health. Safer sex means making a conscious effort to minimize the risk of transmitting STIs. Keeping an eye on your own health is a good start. If you know you have an STI you can do something about it – such as get treatment, but you can also avoid passing it on. Many STIs have no visible symptoms, so many people don’t realize they have one, but they can still be bad for your health and be passed on to others. Most infections can be cured and are easy to treat if they’re discovered in time. Untreated STIs also increase susceptibility to HIV. Testing can also put your mind at ease. If you’re worried or just want to check, go and get tested! Everyone has an HIV status, but not everyone is certain what it is, whether or not they are carrying HIV. The only way […]
TEST & PEP /
IF YOU TEST POSITIVE FOR HIV
If you test positive for HIV it means you are carrying the HIV virus. Each individual reacts differently to this news. Some are shocked, while others aren’t that surprised. Most feel a need to talk about what it means to live with HIV, from several perspectives. The doctor or welfare officer who gives the results is often highly experienced and skilled. Sometimes it feels better to talk to someone in the same situation. One way is to contact Posithiva Gruppen (website in Swedish only but address and phone number on start page) or Noaks Ark (some English on the website). Having HIV is not a death sentence like it was in the 1980s. Today there are all kinds of antiretroviral drugs that are extremely effective and reduce HIV’s status to a chronic infection. Medication cannot completely rid the body of the HIV virus, but it can keep it at very low levels. Living with HIV does entail some restrictions and rules that people who are HIV negative don’t have to worry about. We have summarized some of them below. People living with HIV have a duty to inform their sex partners that they have HIV if they have anal, oral or vaginal sex. This also applies if you use a condom. This is something many people living with HIV find extremely problematic. After all, when do you tell someone something like that? When you’re chatting or making small talk in the pub? When you start making out? When your clothes come off? Many people who […]
TEST & PEP /
IF YOU TEST POSITIVE FOR AN STI
Testing positive means that you have a sexually transmitted infection. What happens next is that you get treatment, and the treatment can vary. After treatment you’ll have to provide a new sample to make sure the infection is gone, just to be on the safe side. You shouldn’t have sex until you’re certain the infection is completely gone. It may feel a bit dull, but it’s a good way of showing consideration for the people you like having sex with. Read more under the Facts tab above to find out more about treatment for the different STIs. If you turn out to have an STI, you’ll be asked who you’ve had sex with recently. This is called a partner trace or infection trace, and it may feel a bit daft to have to say. The reason for the trace is that health professionals will need to find anyone else who may have an infection and offer them treatment. This enables other people to keep an eye on their health as well. So it’s kind of a weird concept, but really it’s a great thing!
TEST & PEP /
How to get tested
You might be wondering what happens when you get tested. The answer is that getting tested for STIs is quick and easy. The test itself depends on what’s being tested for and how you’ve had sex. Nevertheless, the test rarely takes more than about 15 minutes. You’re entitled to get tested free of charge and have free treatment for STIs that come under the Swedish Communicable Diseases Act. This applies to chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis and hepatitis. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) Sexually transmitted infections, or STIs (also known as venereal diseases/VDs), are transmitted through mucus membranes which are found in the urethra, under the edge of the glans, on the inside of the foreskin (if present), and in the anus and throat, for example. It’s important that you say where you need to be tested (but obviously you don’t have to say how you’ve had sex if you don’t want to!). To find out if you’ve got gonorrhea or chlamydia in the throat, the person testing you will swab the back of your mouth with two small cotton buds. And the test for chlamydia and gonorrhea in the cock or pussy is the easiest, often you just have to pee in a plastic cup! Not that the other tests are difficult exactly. Just make sure you don’t pee just before testing! Sometimes the personnel may instead test for chlamydia or gonorrhea in the pussy with a cotton bud, if you have symptoms. You may feel it a bit, but it only lasts a second or […]
TEST & PEP /
WHERE CAN I GET TESTED?
Once you’ve decided you want to get tested for sexually transmitted infections, you obviously need to know where to go. There are many clinics and youth clinics in the Stockholm area where you can go to get tested. Most also give you the chance to talk about testing and other questions related to STIs. You’re entitled to get tested free of charge and have free treatment for STIs that come under the Swedish Communicable Diseases Act. This applies to gonorrhea, hepatitis, HIV, chlamydia and syphilis. When it comes to HPV (human papilloma virus) and condyloma, women over 23 are called in for smear tests every three years. You will receive this notice to attend a smear test, and must go, even if you haven’t had sex. The condyloma virus is tested for at gynecology clinics and young people’s health centers. Today there is a vaccine against HPV and condyloma that is given to young women. Below are the addresses and phone numbers of various clinics in the Stockholm area. Bear in mind that you usually have to make an appointment for a test. At some clinics you do not have to make an appointment, then it usually says ‘Drop In’ on the web site. Venhälsan – The Gay Mens Health Clinic The Gay Mens Health Clinic at Södersjukhuset (Stockholm South General Hospital) is specifically intended for men who have sex with men. The clinic has introduced drop-in times, so you generally don’t have to make an appointment, whether you’re getting tested for HIV or an […]
TEST & PEP /
If you were born with a vagina, 23 and over and have not changed your social security number, you will routinely be called in for a smear test every three years to find out if there have been any cell changes in your cervix. You will receive this notice to attend a smear test, and must go, even if you haven’t had sex (but if you’ve never had sex you don’t need to get tested). It may seem like a hassle or an inconvenience to go for smear tests, but you’re called so that you can have a better overview of your health. Many women who have sex with women choose not to go to these smear tests because they think them unnecessary, but HPV can easily be transmitted between women too. Remember, whether or not you have sex with men, these tests are an important way of helping you keep an eye on your health. The smear tests are carried out at gynecology clinics and young people’s health centers, and the samples are taken by scraping a small speculum, cotton bud or brush against the cervix. The test takes just a couple of minutes, it’s painless and also free of charge. If the tests show cell changes, they will be followed up with an HPV test. In 2010 the examination method changed and only one test is now necessary.
TEST & PEP /
PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) can be a savior in an emergency when things don’t according to plan, like a condom splitting. PEP is a relatively effective treatment that reduces the risk of HIV being transmitted, but it does not offer 100 % protection. PEP can be given if an HIV negative has had unprotected sex with an HIV positive person in the past 36 hours. The sooner you get PEP, the better. The PEP treatment is not a single pill but a 30 day treatment. Afterwards you are recommended to get tested after six weeks, 12 weeks and 6 months. PEP treatment is available Venhälsan at Södersjukhuset and the ER at Karolinska Sjukhuset in Huddinge.