5 Ways in Which The Government Can Meet Its 2030 HIV Pledge

Health secretary renews UK pledge

The Health & Social Care Secretary has announced a pledge to end new HIV transmissions in the UK by 2030. Speaking at the AIDSfree Cities Global Forum last week, Matt Hancock set out plans to achieve the government’s goal through better prevention, detection and treatment. As the government sets out on its landmark target, Your Sexual Health take a look at a few of the areas that will need improvement.

Department of health

More public funding

The government has pledged an extra £600,000 to Public Health England’s innovation fund, the aim of which is to find community driven ways to prevent the spread of HIV. The initiatives that are supported throughout the scheme have proved a great success for informing those in at risk groups, but they have occurred amidst a number of cuts to the public health sector. Without increased spending on public sexual health services these schemes will be fighting a difficult battle.

Improved access to preventative treatments

The revolutionary PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) drug has been clinically proven to greatly reduce the risk of catching HIV following exposure to the virus. However, it’s yet to be fully rolled out on the NHS. Currently the government are doing a limited trials amongst at risk groups to discover its overall impact on HIV transmission rates. So far the trial seems to be successful and pressure groups have argued that the drug should be made more readily available in order to reach as many people as possible.

Early Detection testing

Standard HIV tests offered by the NHS are only accurate from 28 days following exposure. This wait time can cause more people to be exposed to the virus in the meantime, whilst the carrier is unaware that they have HIV. Tests are available that offer early detection of HIV just 10 days after exposure, but until these are available on the NHS people will continue to unknowingly spread the virus.

If you believe you’ve been exposed to HIV or you’ve noticed the primary symptoms of the virus, our Early Detection tests will offer you accurate results without the unpleasant wait.

More sexual health clinics

Government cuts have reduced the amount of sexual health clinics in the UK leaving a vast amount of people under served. Often, areas that do have a clinic struggle to meet the demand. In order to reduce HIV transmission rates, testing needs to be more readily available with more clinics located across the UK.

Your Sexual Health have over 60 private sexual health clinics located across the UK, all of which allow you to book an appointment in order to reduce waiting times.

Education to reduce the stigma surrounding the disease

A prevention first approach to public health has seen an increase to sex education classes in schools. Although classes encouraging more general STI testing is a positive step, many organisations believe that more needs to be done to educate about HIV itself in a bid to reduce stigma. It’s this stigma that prevents many people from being tested against the virus regularly.

3 STIs That Can Be Caught Even Using A Condom

When used correctly condoms are effective against the majority of sexually transmitted infections. They can prevent the spread of the most common infections, including chlamydia and gonorrhoea, and the most dangerous in HIV. However, one thing that many people probably don’t realise is that there are a number of STIs that can still be caught regardless of whether you wear a condom or not. In this article we identify which conditions you’re still at risk of.

OK, first things first…

As we’ve already mentioned, condoms are incredibly important when it comes to practising safe sex. That said, they are still only 98% effective against the prevention of all STIs, including those that didn’t make our list below. That is to say that if you have sex, condom or not, there is always a small chance that you may catch something. For this reason it’s important that you get tested regularly, particularly if you’ve had sex with multiple people since your last test or you’ve recently started a new relationship.

Which STIs don’t condoms prevent?

Whether you practice safe sex or not, you’re still at risk of catching these infections.

Genital Herpes

Herpes is a virus that presents on the skin as lesions. It can never be cured, only managed. During outbreaks of genital herpes there may be a number of lesions that appear around your genitals that are highly contagious.

“If you have sex with someone who has herpes and has an outbreak you can catch the disease,” says Dr Bani. “If you use a condom and it doesn’t cover the lesions then you’re still at risk of catching genital herpes. You’re also at risk if you perform oral sex on someone with lesions or they perform oral sex on you if their mouth is infected.”

It’s advisable that you abstain from sex during an outbreak if you have genital herpes. This is the only sure fire way to avoid of transmitting the virus. However, even when symptoms aren’t present there is always a risk that you can transmit the infections as the virus may come to the surface of the skin from time to time without showing symptoms.

Syphilis

During the primary stages of syphilis, a firm, round and usually painless sore, known as a chancre, may be present. If you make skin on skin contact with the sore then you’re at risk of catching the disease. Similarly to Herpes, if the condom doesn’t cover the sore then you’re obviously at a greater risk.

“Condoms can be effective at preventing the spread of syphilis but the risk is still there if the condom doesn’t cover the chancre,” says Dr Bani. “You should abstain from sex until the syphilis is treated, but another complicating factor is the painless nature of the sore can mean that it goes unnoticed.”

HPV & Genital Warts

HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. There are around 200 strains of the virus and about 40 of them affect the genital region. Some strains of the virus can cause genital warts, but many don’t show any symptoms at all and you can be completely fine. There is no cure for HPV, but your body will usually fight the virus successfully.

“If you’re sexually active, even if you used a condom, it’s probable that you’ll have caught HPV at some stage in your life,” says Dr Bani. “This rarely has any symptoms and there is no cure for the virus itself. Luckily your body will fight the infection in the majority of cases and most of the time you won’t even know about it.”

Because your body fights the virus itself, there’s not actually any need to test for HPV routinely. If genital warts are present you can catch them through skin on skin contact. These will usually go on their own overtime, but they can be removed using a procedure or topical creams. Certain HPV strains are implicated in the development of cervical cancer, which is why regular cervical screening (smear test) is important. There is also a HPV vaccine available and is now part of the NHS children’s vaccination programme.

Testing is the most effective way to prevent STDs causing harm

As you’ve probably gathered from this article, although they certainly help, condoms are never certain to prevent sexually transmitted infections. The only way to limit the damage the sexually transmitted diseases can do is through regular STI testing. Many STDs can harm fertility, whilst others can be fatal without treatment. Luckily, testing is readily available through services such as Your Sexual Health or by visiting your local NHS clinic.

To find out more about our tests or for help choosing the most useful test for you requirements, contact our team today on 0161 660 2599.

Can Genital Herpes be cured?

Your Sexual Health give you the facts

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection which can be passed on through vaginal, anal and oral sex with an infected individual. It causes unpleasant blisters which burst to leave open red sores around your genitals, anus, buttocks or thighs. Unfortunately there is no cure for herpes and most treatment involves the management of the symptoms rather than a complete cure. In this article we look at what genital herpes is and how it can be managed once you’ve been diagnosed.

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the Herpes Simplex virus. It affects the genital area and skin around it, including the anus, buttocks and thighs. Symptoms include blisters which burst to leave painful sores. It is caused by the same family of virus that commonly affects the face and mouth in the form of cold sores. Just like cold sores, you can experience outbreaks throughout your life.  

How is genital herpes treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for genital herpes. Most treatment around the virus usually focuses on improving the symptoms. If you seek treatment in time following an outbreak you may be prescribed antiviral medication which will stop symptoms getting worse than they already are. This is to be taken within 5 days of the first blisters appearing in order to be effective. You may also be offered cream which will help soothe the pain associated with the sores.

Once your first genital herpes outbreak has been treated the virus remains dormant in your system. Many people will then experience outbreaks throughout their life which can surface at any time. These outbreaks may be caused by triggers in some people, such as periods of stress or changes to diet, but they are largely unpredictable. When you suffer from an outbreak you can get treatment in the form of antiviral medication which will reduce the symptoms.

Generally speaking recurrent outbreaks aren’t as bad as the first outbreak that you experience. The symptoms tend to get milder and outbreaks will be spaced out at a greater length of time the older that you get. Some people never have any outbreaks at all, whilst others only suffer from the first initial outbreak.

Fortunately genital herpes is not life threatening for adults and you can lead a normal life following infection.

Parents with newborn babies on the other hand should always be cautious, particularly if you’ve been diagnosed in the past or you’re experiencing an outbreak. Herpes can be potentially fatal for newborn babies and genital herpes can pass on to the baby at childbirth.

How do I know if I have genital herpes?

Genital herpes has very recognisable symptoms in the form of small blisters which occur around the genitals, anus, buttocks or thighs. When the blisters pop they leave open red sores which can be painful and irritating. Other symptoms may include itching, tingling or burning around the genitals as well as pain during urination. Women may also notice abnormal discharge.

The symptoms of genital herpes can be similar to the symptoms of Syphilis and as a result the only way of knowing for certain that you have it is by getting tested.

The method of testing will depend on whether sores are still evident. In the case of lesions being present you will usually be tested using a swab. Your Sexual Health have swabs available which can diagnose herpes or syphilis using the same swab sample.

If the sores have healed you can also carry out accurate tests using a blood or urine sample. We also offer Instant Herpes tests which allow you to get accurate results whilst you wait in the clinic.

Will my genital herpes always be contagious?

Although genital herpes will always exist within your body, it is not always contagious. You are at risk of passing on herpes during an outbreak. The contagious period will usually begin when you first notice tingling around the infected area and will still be contagious until the sores have fully healed.

You can transmit genital herpes to another person in any number of ways, including: –

  • Skin to skin contact with the infected area through vaginal, oral or anal sex
  • Sharing sex toys
  • Touching the infected area with your fingers and then touching your own skin
  • If a cold sore touches your genitals

Sores do not always have to be present to pass on the condition. If you have herpes, the virus may shed from time to time without ever presenting symptoms. You can also pass on the virus just before symptoms are present.

You can prevent the spread of genital herpes by wearing a condom, but this is only effective if the condom covers the affected area.

What is super gonorrhoea and should I be worried?

Antibiotics to fight chlamydia

We answer the common questions about the STI

Earlier this year two British women were infected with “super-gonorrhoea”. One of them was infected in the UK, which is the first reported case of transmission in the UK. Medical professionals believe this could mean that more people are living with the STI unbeknownst to them. In this article we take a look at this super infection and what you can do to stay clear of it.

What is super gonorrhoea and how is it different to normal gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the UK with over 35,000 cases reported each year. Also known as ‘the clap’, it’s caused by a bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoea, sometimes referred to as gonococcus. The bacteria is usually found in penis discharge or vaginal fluid and it can be spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex.

Super-gonorrhoea refers to a new strain of gonorrhoea that has become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the disease. Doctors are concerned about these outbreaks as alternative treatment methods have to be found and it could be the first of many previously easily treatable diseases that have built up a resistance to antibiotics.

What are the symptoms of super gonorrhoea?

The symptoms of “super gonorrhoea” are the same as normal gonorrhoea with the only difference being the disease’s resistance to common treatment methods. In men, the symptoms of gonorrhoea will usually appear within 10 days of infection and include: –

  • Green, yellow or white discharge from the penis
  • A burning feeling during urination
  • Swelling around the foreskin
  • Testicular pain

Women generally show symptoms far less than men and many show no symptoms at all. Some signs that may show in women include pain during urination, a change in vaginal discharge, heavy periods or bleeding in between periods.

People who have been infected in their throat or rectum are less likely to notice symptoms. Gonorrhoea in the rectum may sometimes cause discharge or discomfort.

The fact that gonorrhoea often shows no symptoms, particularly in women, means that the only effective way of diagnosing the condition is through testing. If you’ve had unprotected sex with someone then you risk being exposed to gonorrhoea along with a number of other STIs so you should be tested.

How can the spread of super gonorrhoea be prevented?

Just like normal gonorrhoea, so called “super gonorrhoea” can be prevented through the responsible use of condoms during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Although condoms don’t completely remove the risk of all sexually transmitted diseases they are effective in preventing the spread of gonorrhoea in almost all cases if the condom is used correctly.

Regular sexual health testing can also be an effective way to avoid spreading the disease. If you’ve had unprotected sex with someone for the first time then you should be tested. This will allow you to identify the disease so that you can receive treatment and avoid passing it on to any future sexual partners.

How is super gonorrhoea treated?

Normal gonorrhoea is treated using a routine course of antibiotics. The most commonly prescribed form of antibiotics for gonorrhoea are a powerful mixture of ceftriaxone and azithromycin. The latest strain of “super-gonorrhoea” is resistant to both of these meaning that treatment of the disease is extremely difficult. One of the women who was infected earlier this year had to be treated with an IV drip such was the resistance to the standard medications.

With cases of super-gonorrhoea now occurring in the UK, it means that retesting following treatment is essential to ensure you’re cured. Following your course of antibiotics it’s recommended that you take another test two weeks after you’ve finished your course of treatment to be certain that the disease has being treated.

What happens if gonorrhoea goes untreated?

Gonorrhoea can cause a range of long term health complications if left untreated in both men and women.

In women, gonorrhoea can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) with symptoms ranging from minor abdominal pain to more serious internal abscesses. In some cases PID can affect the fallopian tubes enough to cause infertility or increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

In men, gonorrhoea can cause epididymitis, which in rare cases may lead to male infertility.

What tests are available to diagnose gonorrhoea and super-gonorrhoea?

“Super-gonorrhoea” can be diagnosed using the same testing methods as normal gonorrhoea. There are a range of testing methods which can diagnose the condition, including methods that use a swab and those which use a urine sample.

Unless you’ve been notified that you may have gonorrhoea by a former sexual partner, or you’re exhibiting symptoms which a doctor believes may indicate gonorrhoea, testing should always be completed for a wider range of conditions as opposed to gonorrhoea in isolation. If you’ve had unprotected sex, in theory you may have been exposed to any sexually transmitted infection.

Here at Your Sexual Health we offer gonorrhoea testing as an Instant Test, which can diagnose you in under 30 minutes. We also offer a number of standard urine and swab tests which offer accurate laboratory results against gonorrhoea and chlamydia.

If you’ve had oral or anal sex then you will need to complete a swab test of the affected area to accurately diagnose the condition.

Should we stop using antibiotics?

Gonorrhoea is the latest disease to show a resistance to antibiotics that were previously effective against the condition. One of the reasons for gonorrhoea developing into a super infection is due to our over reliance on antibiotics. Health professionals have warned that our antibiotic use should be cut down to prevent future bacterial resistance to them.

It’s thought that more than 2,000 deaths per year are caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria and some doctors have warned that without a reduction of antibiotic use then many routine medical procedures may become too risky to carry out.

With this in mind it’s important that you only take antibiotics when they are prescribed by a doctor. In cases of sexually transmitted infections you should only take antibiotics after you’ve been tested and it’s confirmed that you are infected.

Can you catch an STI from a toilet seat?

A common question answered by Your Sexual Health

You don’t have to be a germaphobe to dislike using a public toilet. No matter where you get caught short, the inside of a cubicle rarely offers us the same confidence as the inside of your own bathroom. When was this toilet last cleaned? Who used it last? Why is the floor wet? All uncertainties that can leave you second guessing your choice to leave the house this morning. But there is one question that Your Sexual Health can help you with.

So, can you catch an STI from a toilet seat? You’ve probably Googled it at some stage I’m sure. That question (or one very similar) is typed into search engines thousands of times each month. The great news is that whether you’ve used a portaloo at Glastonbury or you’re sitting in your very own toilet the chances of you catching an STI are pretty much the same. That is to say the chances of catching an STI from a toilet seat are almost zero.

Why?

I know what you’re thinking, you’ve been in some pretty dodgy toilets. Thankfully the fragile organisms that are sexually transmitted diseases just aren’t that great at surviving at room temperature on a shiny surface for any longer than around 10 seconds. In reality they only really survive inside your body or directly around your genitals in areas that are unlikely to come into direct contact with a toilet seat.

For you to catch an STI that did somehow survive on a toilet seat it would then have to transfer from the seat and into your genital or urethral tract, or through a cut or sore on your buttocks. The likelihood of which is very small and if you ask any doctor or public health nurse they’ll almost certainly tell you that they’ve never heard a case like this before.

So how are STI’s transmitted exactly?

OK, it’s an obvious answer, but sexually transmitted infections generally only transfer from one person to another during body to body contact through the transfer of bodily fluids. Whether that’s vaginal, anal or oral sex. All STIs are the same. If you’ve slept with someone who has an STI without wearing a condom then you’re likely to have caught an STI from that person. Whether or not you used the same toilet seat as them will have very little bearing on your chances.

To find out more about sexual health or to book a fully confidential private sexual health screen browse our site today.

What to do if you’ve had a festive one night stand

Christmas sexual health advice from Your Sexual Health

Your Sexual Health’s Dr Rashid Bani was featured in The Metro last week talking about how to deal with catching an STI at a work Christmas Party. The festive season is a time of year that often see’s people let their hair down and celebrate with friends and colleagues. And all to often where drinking to excess is involved, sex is never too far around the corner. Here’s some advice to ensure that your one night stand doesn’t spoil your Christmas.

Use protection

If you’re having sex with anyone for the first time it’s always wise to use a condom. At Christmas you never know what “one drink” could lead to so make sure you take a condom on your night out or at least pick one up before you go home. Condoms reduce the risk of contracting STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea by as much as 98%, so you might want to think twice before having a one night stand without one. If you don’t use protection you’re a risk of catching any sexually transmitted infection – all of which have the ability to ruin Christmas.

Look out for the symptoms

If you’ve had sex on the Christmas Party and you didn’t wear a condom, you’re at risk.  Symptoms may be the first sign of infection, but of course, the symptoms of STIs vary and every person is different. In fact, many STIs often show no symptoms at all. Some general signs that you should get tested include: –

  • Discharge from the penis, vagina or anus
  • Sores, blisters or warts on or around the genitals
  • Painful urination and problems when going for a wee
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Women may often experience bleeding between periods

It should be noted that if you are already symptomatic, then you can tested and be confident that the results will be accurate.

Even if you don’t have symptoms, get tested

So you’ve had a festive one night stand, but you’ve not experienced any symptoms yet. An STI test should still be at the top of your Christmas list, but not until the window period for testing has passed. It can be in our nature to worry, especially over the festive period, and want to get tested straight away. Unfortunately that’s not always possible. Every test has an accuracy date ranging anywhere from 10 to 45 days following exposure and if you get tested before that period has passed then your test won’t be accurate.

Testing is still necessary though if you’ve had unprotected sex. Many sexually transmitted infections don’t show any symptoms, but you can still transmit them to future sexual partners. In addition, the longer that you leave an STI untreated, it is more likely to cause long term lasting damage to your body. So get tested!

If you catch an STI tell your acquaintance

If you’ve had a Christmas one night stand that you’ve lived to regret you’re not alone, throw an STD into the mix and things get even more complicated. Unfortunately, the responsible thing to do if you discover you’ve caught an STI is to let your previous sexual partners know so that they can get tested. This can be especially difficult if you’ve slept with a colleague at work, but it’s often best to tell them first before they find out for themselves.

STI Testing from Your Sexual Health

If you’ve had a one night stand this festive period you’ll want to get tested. Your Sexual Health offer a wide range of private STI tests, offering maximum convenience. You can choose from our nationwide clinics and book a discreet appointment to deposit your sample. We even offer a range of instant tests which will offer accurate results in under 30 minutes, meaning you can get the answers you need without it spoiling your Christmas.

I had sex with someone who has chlamydia, what shall I do?

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK with around 200,000 new cases reported each year. With so many people carrying the condition, there is a real chance many of us may come into contact with it at some stage during our lives. Unfortunately chlamydia can show no symptoms and often people only find out about it when they are contacted by a previous (or current) sexual partner. Here’s some advice on what you should do in these cases.

chlamydia testing patient

Getting tested

If you’ve been told by a sexual partner that you may have chlamydia, the first thing to do is get tested. There are a range of chlamydia tests available, both free on the NHS and at private testing companies such as Your Sexual Health. You can also choose whether you want to visit a clinic or get tested in the comfort of your own home with a home chlamydia test kit.

Avoid fake STI tests

As a word of warning, home test kits purchased on online marketplaces that promise instant results should be avoided for a number of reasons. These tests are designed to be carried out by trained medical staff, meaning results are often inaccurate when carried out at home. You’ll also have to carry out another test before a GP offers you a prescription for treatment. All tests offered by Your Sexual Health are carried out in a laboratory or by trained medical staff.

I’ve shown no symptoms, should I still get tested?

If you’ve shown no symptoms of chlamydia, you should never assume that you don’t have it. Around 70% of women and 50% of men show no symptoms of the condition after they’re infected and the only way to know for sure is by getting tested. The symptomless nature of chlamydia is one of the main reasons that it is spread so easily.

Getting treatment

The good news is chlamydia is 100% curable and if caught early it will have no lasting health implications. If you’ve tested positive, chlamydia treatment will usually be in the form of antibiotics taken in either one sitting or over the course of a week. Once you’ve taken your medication you should abstain from sex for at least a week after you’ve completed your antibiotics. A test to confirm cure is usually recommended two weeks following your treatment.

It’s very rare to be able to obtain a prescription for chlamydia medication without getting tested. It’s also dangerous to do so as it may cause bacteria in your body to build up a tolerance to antibiotics making them less effective in the future.

We used a condom. Shall I still get tested?

Although condoms greatly reduce your chances of contracting chlamydia by as much as 98%, there’s still a chance that you may have caught it. The only way to know for sure that you’re clear is by taking an STI test.

I caught chlamydia from my current partner, should I be worried?

If your partner has told you that they have chlamydia, it’s important that you remain calm. Chlamydia is not always as a result of one person cheating. On many occasions the only thing someone is guilty of is not getting tested before you began your relationship. This is often the case in new relationships where one person didn’t get tested before you began sleeping together.

Chlamydia can go months and often years without being diagnosed, so unless you receive regular tests, there’s no way of pinpointing the exact point that you’ve been infected. If you test positive your GP or a public health worker will be able to offer you advice that will help your relationship following chlamydia.

How to avoid catching chlamydia in the future

The easiest way to prevent the spread of chlamydia during sexual intercourse is by wearing a condom when having sex with a new sexual partner. You should always wear a condom during sex until both people in a relationship have had the opportunity to get tested. Remember, just like many other STIs, chlamydia shows no symptoms and it’s always wise to undergo a regular sexual health screen to know for sure that you’re all clear.

MP Reveals HIV Diagnosis ahead of World AIDS Day

Lloyd Russell-Moyle opens up in Commons

A Labour MP opened up about his HIV diagnosis in commons yesterday in a special parliamentary debate ahead of World AIDS Day. In an impassioned speech the Brighton Kemptown MP spoke about the work that needs to be done to eradicate new HIV diagnoses in the UK and to support those living with HIV both in the UK and internationally.

He explained how he had been living with HIV for almost 10 years and talked about his experience when he was first diagnosed with the condition. The MP has until this point kept his diagnosis very private, but with a number of key issues around the HIV debate currently being discussed in both parliament and the news he thought the time was right.

The MP used his speech to call for the £700 million cuts to public health to be stopped in the hope that it will allow more people access to the revolutionary PrEP drug. The drug effectively prevents high risk individuals from catching HIV if they take it regularly and before they have sex. A trial of the drug which has so far being deemed a success by health officials is due to end, however there is no promise that the medication will be made available to more people.  

“We are genuinely on the cusp of eradicating new HIV diagnosis in the UK,” he said. “But we are at a fork in a road and currently I worry that we might be starting to head in the wrong direction with £700 million of cuts to public health, we’re not investing in the universal PrEP roll out. So I think it is important for me politically to speak out”

Finally, ahead of World AIDs Day on 1 December, the Brighton MP lead an inspirational call for all people living with HIV to not be ashamed. He said: “I wanted to say to those living with HIV that there status does not define them. We can be whoever we want to be. And to those who have not been tested, maybe out of fear, I say to you it is better to live in knowledge that to die in fear.”

There are a wide range of ways to be tested for HIV in the UK, including at your local sexual health clinic or by opting for a private HIV testing option like those available from Your Sexual Health. Our service allows you to book an appointment at one of our nationwide clinics before arriving to deposit your sample. We also offer home testing and home visits testing options. Visit our HIV page to book your test today.

Prince Harry Makes HIV Testing Plea

Prince Harry makes HIV Testing Plea

Royal marks HIV testing week with an emotional speech

Prince Harry has called for an end to the stigma surrounding HIV testing in an emotional video to mark this year’s HIV Testing Week. He called for HIV testing to be seen as “completely normal and accessible” and not something to feel embarrassed or ashamed about.

Speaking to the camera wearing the red HIV awareness ribbon, he said: “Taking an HIV test is something to be proud of – not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about. As much as you protect yourself at this time of year from illnesses and viruses like cold and flu, you can also protect your health by taking an HIV test.”

The Duke of Sussex also commended a drop in new diagnosis of HIV over the last two years, with reported cases down by 28%. He did however acknowledge that there was no time to be complacent, as health charities set out the ambitious aim to eradicate new infections in the UK.

Indeed the battle to eradicate new diagnoses in the UK is going to be a difficult one – despite the drop in overall diagnoses, 43% of cases reported in 2017 were identified at a late stage of HIV where damage has already been done to the immune system.

The video of Prince Harry is not the first time he has supported the drive for HIV awareness. In 2016 he was filmed in a Facebook Live video undergoing an HIV test of his own for the cameras. The move reportedly saw demand for testing increase five fold according to the HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust.

Your Sexual Health offer a range of private HIV tests that are 100% confidential and discreet. Our service allows you to visit a clinic or deposit a sample in the comfort of your own home before posting to our laboratory.

Can you catch HIV through Oral Sex?

Oral Sex & HIV

Many STIs can be passed from one person to another via oral sex and the same can be said about HIV. However, in comparison to those other STIs the risk is much lower. Here’s everything that you need to know about HIV and oral sex from Your Sexual Health.

Two pairs of lips side by side

Can HIV be passed via oral sex?

Although the risk is extremely low, HIV can be passed from one person to another during oral sex depending on a number of factors.

First of all, if the person with HIV is receiving effective medication against the condition and they have an undetectable viral load, then it is not possible for them to pass on HIV through oral sex.

However, for people yet to be diagnosed with HIV or not receiving medication there is a greater risk of them transmitting the infection.

Public Health England estimates that between 1-3% of all HIV transmissions in the UK come as the result of oral sex, whilst other studies quote numbers even lower.

Factors increase the risk of HIV being passed through oral sex

The risks can become greater depending on a number of factors.

Performing oral sex on a man with HIV

If a HIV negative person performs oral sex on a man with HIV there is a risk of passing on the condition if the man has a detectable viral load.

The risk is increased if the man ejaculates in the HIV negative persons mouth or pre-cum is passed into the other person’s mouth.

By avoiding the person ejaculating into the other person’s mouth you greatly reduce the risk.

You should bare in mind that if a person carrying HIV has yet to be diagnosed, they will have a detectable viral load and carry a greater risk of passing on the virus.

Receiving oral sex from someone with HIV

The risk when the HIV positive person performs oral sex is greatly reduced.

Factors which may increase the risk slightly include the person performing oral having cuts in their mouth.

A throat or mouth infection may also increase the risk.  

Performing oral sex on a woman with HIV

There is a very small risk that HIV can be passed from a woman with HIV.

Performing oral sex on a woman on her period does carry a greater risk.

Reducing the risk from oral sex

Although oral sex carries a smaller risk than both vaginal and anal sex there are still things that can be done to reduce the risk of catching HIV further.

  • Don’t perform oral sex on a person with a detectable viral load
  • Wear protection if either person has cuts in their mouth
  • Avoid ejaculating in the uninfected persons mouth

Even if the other person doesn’t have HIV, If you’re performing oral sex on someone or receiving it for the first time you should wear protection until you are both tested against STIs.