This week is Brighton & Hove Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Testing Week.
Organised by Terrence Higgins Trust and supported by our Public Health team, the aim of the week is to encourage local residents to be proactive about their health and get tested for STIs and bring attention to options available.
Worryingly, Brighton & Hove has one of the highest rates of STIs in the country.
The latest study on sexual health in our city, conducted in 2021, showed that the rate of diagnosis for all new STIs in the city was 1,566 per 100,000 people, which is almost double the England rate of 816 per 100,000.
The most common in Brighton & Hove are chlamydia, gonorrhoea, genital warts, genital herpes and syphilis, with the diagnosis rates for both gonorrhoea and syphilis being the highest outside of London.
Who is affected?
The topic of sexual health and testing for STIs is often surrounded by a large amount of stigma but the truth is that anyone who is sexually active can get an STI.
Everyone that is sexually active should therefore get an STI test at least once every 12 months, and more often if they are having sex with multiple partners.
There are higher rates of infections in some population groups: those aged under 25 years, men who have sex with men (MSM) and people with a Black ethnicity are disproportionately affected by poor sexual health.
Why get tested?
STIs are often asymptomatic and can go undetected for years, so you can't tell someone has an infection just by looking at them.
Even if the STIs show no symptoms, they can have serious long term health consequences if left untreated. Chlamydia, for example, can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and tubal factor infertility.
STIs are easily passed around, especially through condomless sex. Oral sex, or sex involving toys and hands can all carry a chance of infection. The only way to know is by testing.
If someone thinks they have been exposed to an STI, they should get tested even if they do not have any signs or symptoms.
Even if you test positive, most STIs are easily treated, and an early diagnosis and treatment is important to lower the risk of developing painful complications including infertility.
Getting tested in Brighton & Hove
Testing for STIs isn’t scary or embarrassing. It’s free, quick, easy and confidential.
In most cases a simple swab or urine sample that individuals do themselves is all that's needed.
Whether you’d prefer a confidential home test or speaking to a professional, there are plenty of options to get tested and keep informed about your sexual health in our city:
Sexual Health and Contraception Service (SHAC)
Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)
Both SHAC & THT also offer tests for HIV and syphilis. Find out where else you can test for HIV on the Brighton Sexual Health website.
Practicing safe sex
The best way to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancy is to use condoms.
The C-Card scheme gives young people access to free condoms, internal condoms and lubricant in Brighton and Hove.
Condoms are also available for free at Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and the Sexual Health & Contraception Service (SHAC).