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Herpes Simplex the virus responsible for genital herpes, symptoms of herpes and herpes treatment options.
In recent years STI home testing kits have become an increasingly popular way for those wanting to find out if they have contracted an STI without the embarrassment of discussing it face to face with a doctor.
Chemist Direct offer this easy to use service to customers; simply order your kit online and use the equipment to collect a urine or swab sample. Chlamydia Test Kit – If you are at risk of infection, you are strongly advised to get tested for Chlamydia. Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia test kit – As two of the most common STI’s, both of which can show no symptoms this kit is to test for both Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia. Extended STI Kit – A complete sexual health testing kit which tests for the most common STIs including Herpes 1 and 2, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma Urealticum and Gardnerella Vaginalis. Chlamydia – The most common STI in the UK, Chlamydia often goes undetected due to its lack of symptoms. Gonorrhoea – Another very common infection in the UK, Gonorrhoea is caused by infection with the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium. Genital Herpes – Genital herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus, which causes painful blisters of the genitals and surrounding areas. Gardnerella Vaginalis – Gardnerella Vaginalis or Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a condition where the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina becomes disrupted. Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma and Urealticum Ureaplasma Urealticum Mycoplasma Genitalium are bacterium which can be passed through sexual contact. The information contained on this page was written by MESMAC and New Croft Sexual Health staff.
The information here is written for gay and bisexual men, for sexual health information for lesbian and bisexual women, please read the information on the LesBisexy website. Having unprotected penetrative sex is the easiest way to pass on a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Using a condom not only helps protect against HIV, but it also cuts the risk of getting many other STIs. There are more gay men living with HIV than ever, so having sex without using a condom is extremely risky.
Screening for Hepatitis C isn’t routinely carried out, but if you think you’re at risk or have been exposed, speak to your GP. At times we will mention sex with women as well as men for the bisexual men and men in relationships with women who read this website. Chlamydia is called the ‘silent’ disease as around 50% of men and 70-80% of women do not experience any noticeable symptoms. Chlamydia can be easily diagnosed through a ‘pee in a pot’ test or having a swab taken from inside the tip of your knob, once diagnosed it can be treated with antibiotics. Genital herpes is an infection of the genital skin (below the waist and between the legs) that is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
At least 80% of people who carry the virus don’t know that they’ve been infected because there are often few or no symptoms to begin with.
When herpes is first diagnosed, medication can be given to treat it along with painkillers if necessary.
Some people will only ever have one outbreak although the virus will still remain in their body, others may have further outbreaks. Genital warts are the result of a viral skin infection that is caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Genital warts are small fleshy growths, bumps or skin changes that appear on or around the genital or anal area.
Gonorrhoea can be easily diagnosed through a ‘pee in a pot’ test or swab and is treated with antibiotics. You get Hepatitis when there is inflammation (swelling ) of the liver, often caused by a virus. Caused by the Hepatitis B virus, it’s present in body fluids such as blood, saliva, semen and vaginal fluid. Caused by the Hepatitis C virus, it’s present in the blood and, to a much lesser extent, the saliva and semen or vaginal fluid of an infected person. There are often no symptoms for Hepatitis A, B, or C, which is why it is important to get checked regularly.
Hep A: In certain parts of the UK sexual health services will offer all MSM vaccination against Hepatitis A, if there have been a lot of people infected locally. Hep B: A course of vaccinations, which can prevent getting the virus, is recommended for all MSM and is available from sexual health services. If you are diagnosed with HIV, you will be offered an appointment to a HIV or Sexual Health Service.
If the level of CD4 cells fall below a certain level (currently 350) you will be advised to start medication called HAART. There is no cure or vaccine for HIV and researchers believe it will be many years before either is found. There is a treatment for exposure to HIV called PEP, it is only effective within 72 hours of exposure (split condom, unprotected sex with someone who is HIV+ etc). As long as it’s treated quickly LGV can be cured in three weeks of starting antibiotics and leaves no lasting damage. Non-specific urethritis (NSU) is a condition where the tube that pee passes through becomes inflamed, usually due to infection. Symptoms tend to range from mild to a stinging sensation in the piss tube and this can usually pass within a few months, this needs to be checked out.
You should always have any unusual stinging sensations checked out with your GP or sexual health service because of possible causes, and treatment will be required to prevent the spread of infection. Pubic lice can cause itching to the infested area and lay egg sacks at the base of pubic hair which have a silver or shiny appearance. Pubic lice can usually be successfully treated with insecticide medicines available over-the-counter in most chemists, or from a GP or sexual health service. Scabies is a skin condition caused by tiny insects called Sarcoptes scabiei, which burrow into the skin. Scabies is not usually a serious condition, but the itching can be unpleasant and leave you feeling low or depressed.
Itching that is caused by scabies can usually be effectively treated using specialist skin creams, some of these need to be re-applied over 24 hours and may need to be put on the body again a few days later. If found early, syphilis can be easily treated with antibiotics, usually penicillin injections. You will get diarrhoea lasting more than 48 hours (often with blood in it), normally with stomach cramps and fever.


It is spread very easily – all it takes is for a tiny amount of bacteria to get into your mouth.
Wash your hands frequently! Do this after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food.
To prevent HIV transmission, you should always use condoms and water-based lubricant for anal sex. The lubricant you use should always be water-based, because lube with oil seriously weakens the rubber in the condom. Although they do not replace medical advice they can be used to detect some of the most common infections such as Herpes 1 and 2, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma Urealticum and Gardnerella Vaginalis. The customer can then send the samples back to the lab (free of charge) and will receive the results in 2-3 days.
Those groups at risk include anyone sexually active (particularly under 25’s) or anyone with an infected partner. It is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis which can be spread through sexual contact with an infected partner. It can be transmitted through direct skin to skin contact with the infected area when the virus is active. Although many people with these infections are asymptomatic, symptoms can include a burning sensation when passing urine or a discharge. It can take up to a year for symptoms to develop after getting an infection, so if you are in a relationship and you get genital warts, it does not necessarily mean that your partner has been having sex with other people!
Several treatments are available, such as using medicated creams and freezing the warts (cryotherapy). You are likely to be asked to come back for repeat tests after your treatment to check that the infection has gone. It can be passed from person to person through unprotected sex or by sharing needles or drug injecting equipment, for example. It is particularly concentrated in the blood, so it is usually caught through blood-to-blood contact. Symptoms, if you get any, can include feeling tired, aches, nausea, being sick, pissing darker pee than usual and being jaundiced (yellowish skin tone). If you show signs of Hepatitis you are most likely to be referred to a Liver Unit at a hospital where more tests will take place and you may be offered drugs that fight the virus, these can clear the infection for about half of those who are infected. In people who are infected with HIV, 60% will develop associated symptoms, usually two to six weeks after they are first infected with HIV.
Many of these, though serious, can be treated to some extent and some are likely to improve if you start treatment and your CD4 cell levels increase. However, special medicines that are used in what is known as Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) have been really successful in slowing down HIV and helping people to live longer.
Because of the bleeding and skin damage LGV causes it makes it easier to pick up or pass on HIV, hepatitis C, syphilis and other STI’s, so It’s likely you will be tested for these when attending a sexual health service. The term “non-specific urethritis” is used when the cause is not yet known (Gonorrhoea is an STI that can also cause urethritis and tends to be more serious than NSU).
They live in coarse human body hair, most commonly pubic hair, and cause itching and red spots.
You should tell any current sexual partners and any partners from the past three months as they may need to be treated.
It can be spread through prolonged skin-to-skin contact (such as sleeping) with someone who is infected and sexual contact with someone.
Three stages of disease Syphilis may not always be seen in its three stages, not everyone will have symptoms and if syphilis is up the bum changes may not be noticed. If somebody else comes into close contact with the sore, for example during sex such as oral sex or anal sex, they can also become infected.
These symptoms may disappear within a few weeks, after which you experience a hidden (latent) phase with no symptoms, which can last for years.
Symptoms can include: swelling in your lymph glands (small organs found throughout the body, such as in the neck, groin or armpit), a non-itchy skin rash appearing anywhere on the body, but commonly on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet, tiredness and headaches.
If it is not treated, syphilis can progress to a more dangerous form of the disease and cause serious conditions such as stroke, paralysis, blindness or even death. Visit your doctor or a sexual health clinic to get tested, explaining you may have picked up a gut infection from sex, possibly Shigella. If you want to buy condoms, we recommend you try your nearest branch of Boots or Superdrug. It can affect all sexually active individuals but has a higher rate of infection in young adults. Some of the symptoms may include unusual discharge from the penis in men and irregular bleeding in women.
Although the virus can remain dormant for long periods of time, certain triggers such as stress, illness or fatigue can trigger an outbreak of symptoms. Left untreated, Chlamydia can permanently damage the sexual organs leading to infertility in women and in men.
Symptoms in men may include pain when pissing, a discharge from the cock or pain or discomfort in the balls. These usually start as an area of small blisters that may be itchy and then burst leaving the area sore and uncomfortable.
The symptoms of genital herpes also tend not to happen as often and not be as bad each time someone has the condition. However it is important to know that many treatments can take up to three months before they work properly. Gonorrhoea is easily passed between people through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex, and sharing vibrators or other sex toys, that have not been washed or covered with a new condom each time they are used. If you don’t get treatment, it may lead to more serious long-term health problems and infertility. Hepatitis A is caught by putting something in your mouth that has been contaminated with shit containing the virus, so can commonly be transmitted through rimming (licking the bum hole for pleasure) for example. Hepatitis B is not very common in the UK: about one in 1,000 people are thought to have the virus, MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) are more at risk of this virus through unprotected sex.
The most common way you can become infected is by sharing contaminated needles or drug taking equipment. Blood tests are needed to confirm if you have an infection, which type it is and whether the infection has cleared itself or needs further investigation. HIV infects special cells, called CD4 cells, which are found in the blood and are responsible for fighting infection. Symptoms of primary HIV infection may include: Fever, sore throat, tiredness, joint pain, muscle pain, swollen glands (lymph nodes), or a blotchy rash on the chest.


Once HAART is started it should not be stopped without discussing it with your doctor because the disease can then come back quickly and the medication may not work again. Researchers are confident that improvements in therapy will mean that a person with HIV will live as long as somebody who does not. NSU can have a number of possible causes, but it is thought that chlamydia is responsible for 75% of all cases.
The lice can also be found in the eyelashes or eyebrows, hair on the abdomen or back, and facial hair, such as beards or moustaches if left untreated. Scabies can also be passed on through sharing clothing, towels and bedding with someone who is infected. Scabies can lead to another skin infection if the skin becomes irritated and inflamed through excessive itching and scratching. Due to being in the body untreated for years, syphilis can then progress to its third, most dangerous stage. Avoid preparing food for other people while you’re ill or until a week after symptoms stop. You can also get free condoms & lube packs (MEnvelopes) from gay bars in Newcastle and loose condoms from local gay saunas and by calling in and collecting a supply from MESMAC. Once again, you can get free lube (along with condoms in the MEnvelope packs) from gay bars or MESMAC.
It is very important to get tested for chlamydia if you think you may have been exposed to it as it has potential dangers if left untreated such as infertility.
If untreated Gonorrhoea can lead to health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. As there is no cure for this infection it is important to get tested so you can let your sexual partner know. Sometimes it can be impossible to pee (more likely to occur in women) resulting in the need for a hospital admission. If an outbreak happens more than 6 times in 12 months you or if you prefer the sexual health service can talk to your GP about treating the virus with medication, usually over 6 months, in an attempt to reduce the amount of outbreaks.
Anyone who has sex with another person can get gonorrhoea, however it is more common with people who change partners more often and people who do not use a condom when having sex. Successful treatment for gonorrhoea does not stop you from catching it again in the future. These early symptoms are often very mild, so it is easy to mistake them for something else, like a cold or glandular fever.
Going to the toilet might become difficult and painful, and you may get an abscess or ulcer. In the middle (latent) phase (and usually around two years after becoming infected), syphilis cannot be passed onto others but you can still get symptoms.
You may have heard of a new polyurethane condom called Avanti, which is thinner than rubber condoms, supposed to be stronger, and which can also be used with oil-based lube.
Even if someone with genital herpes doesn’t have any symptoms, it’s possible for them to pass the condition on to a sexual partner as the virus is present in the skin cells (that are shed) in the area where the infection has been. You do not need to have penetrative sex to pass the infection on because HPV is spread by skin-to-skin contact.
Although the body will attempt to produce more CD4 cells, their numbers will eventually go down and the immune system will stop working. Some research has been done which suggests that these condoms are actually not as reliable as latex (rubber) condoms.
Condoms do not provide complete protection because it is possible for the skin around your genital area (that is not covered by the condom) to become infected. This leaves a person who is infected with HIV with a high risk of developing a serious infection or disease, such as cancer because the immune system is no longer able to prevent it happening.
These tests allow the staff at the HIV service to see how far the disease has progressed, and whether you might develop an infection. If you get LGV in your cock you might also get a discharge or pain when you piss and the glands in your groin can swell.
HPV is most likely to be passed on to others when warts are present, although it is still possible to pass the virus on before the warts have developed and after they have disappeared. There is not enough evidence to say whether pubic lice can be passed through items such as bedding or towels, although some experts think that it might be possible. Late-stage HIV infection Left untreated, HIV will lower the number of CD4 cells in your body to a dangerously low level, and your immune system will stop working. There may be a small, painless sore where the bacteria got into your bum or penis but most people don’t get or notice a sore. Only humans get pubic lice, you can get them at any age but they are seen most in young adults. Untreated LGV can cause lasting damage for example: the inside of your bum can be so seriously damaged that you might need surgery and your penis and scrotum can swell massively with blocked fluid. After three to four days, the baby insects (larvae) hatch from the eggs and travel to the surface of the skin where they lie in shallow pockets before becoming adult insects.
Scabies like warm places on the skin, such as skin folds, between the fingers, under fingernails or around the buttock or breast creases.
Possible symptoms of a serious infection caused by a damaged immune system include: feeling tired all the time, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, diarrhoea that won’t go away, blurred vision, white spots on your tongue or mouth, dry cough, shortness of breath, a fever of above 37C (100F) that lasts a number of weeks, or swollen glands that last for more than three months.
They can also hide under watchstraps or bracelets, and in the skin on the finger under rings. However, since the 1990s, treatments have been developed that help most people with HIV to stay well and live relatively normal lives.
Crusted scabies is when there are insects that have had lots of babies that have spread; this can affect older people and those with a lowered immune system (the body’s natural defence against illness and infection). Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) describes the later stages of HIV, when the immune system has stopped working and the person develops a life-threatening condition, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs).
The term ‘AIDS’ was first used by doctors when the exact nature of the HIV virus was not fully understood.
It is not used as much because it is too general to describe the many different conditions that can affect somebody with HIV.




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