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Sexual Health

You don't need to have a lot of sexual partners to get a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Anybody who has had unprotected sex (male, female, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual) can get infected.

There are more than 25 STIs (click on the links on the right to see what they are).
STIs can be passed from person to person through unprotected sex. (see safer sex) If you are sexually active you need to consider how much risk from STIs you are exposing yourself and your partner(s) to try this sexual health assessment (an assessment tool can be found here)

Condoms are the only type of contraception that can protect you against STIs including HIV (if they are used correctly). Visit our C-CARD page for info on where to access free condoms.

Some STIs might not have any signs or symptoms, so you might have an infection without even knowing about it. If you are having sex, it is best to have regular check-ups. There are currently 2 Young People's Sexual Health and Contraceptive Clinics in Camden:

  • Brook (Euston)
  • The Brandon Centre (Kentish Town)

These clinics are part of the Camden and Islington Young People's Sexual Health Network which also includes the Pulse clinic in Islington and outreach clinics across both boroughs.

See the local stuff section for maps and opening hours for all local clinics.

Most STIs are easily treated, but if left untreated they can lead to serious problems, like infertility.
Chlamydia is the most common STI, especially in young people under 25. It usually has no symptoms but is easily treated. If left untreated Chlamydia can lead to serious problems in males and females.

A simple self-taken test for Chlamydia & Gonorrhoea is available free for people under 25. Camden residents can order a Chlamydia Postal Test Kit online. Click here to get your test kit
For more information on home testing kits, phone the Brandon Centre on 0207 267 1321

HPV

From September 2008 a HPV vaccination has been available to all girls in Year 8 (aged 12-13). The vaccination is given in three doses throughout the school year. It is vitally important to have all three jabs to be fully protected.

The HPV vaccination helps protect against cervical cancer, read on for the key facts:

  • Cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV for short).
  • There are over 100 types of human papillomavirus but only 13 of them are known to cause cancer. The others cause conditions like genital warts (small fleshy lumps around the genital area) or are harmless.
  • The virus is very common and you catch it by being sexually active with another person who already has the virus. Because it is so common, most people will get infected at some point in their lifetime. Most of the time, the virus does not cause cancer because it is killed off by the body's immune system, but not always. This is why the vaccine is so important.

The vaccine protects against the two types of the virus that cause over 70% of the cases of cervical cancer. It does not protect you against all of the other types, so you will still need to have cervical screening (tests) when you are older.

When to have the Vaccination

You need to have the vaccination before you start being sexually active. And while most girls don't start having sex before they're at least 16, it is recommended that you have the vaccine at 12 to 13 years of age to protect you as early as possible. Having the vaccine won't protect you against other sexually transmitted diseases (like Chlamydia) and it won't stop you getting pregnant.

Girls will be offered the HPV vaccine by their school nurse. The nurse will give you the vaccination in your upper arm. You need three injections over several months to get the best protection. The side effects of the vaccine are mild usually just soreness in the arm that soon wears off.

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