Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

How can I prevent myself from getting an STI?

The most effective way to prevent yourself from getting an STI is by wearing a condom correctly. If you are between the ages of 13 -24 you can access condoms for free with a C-card at participating outlets.

Visit Come Correct website to learn more about the C-card and participating outlets.

If you are over 25, you may be eligible for condoms free of charge from certain outlets. 

Where can I get tested?

If you think you might have an STI, including HIV or are at risk of having one, you can get tested at your sexual health clinic, GP or pharmacy.

Visit the local sexual health services page 

Why should you get tested?

Testing can prevent you from getting serious health issues such as pelvic inflammatory disease, swollen or painful testicles, arthritis, infertility and even meningitis.

When should I get tested?

You do not have to have symptoms to have an STI. You should test if you have:

  • unprotected sex
  • started seeing someone new
  • had a new partner within the last two months
  • concerns that you might have an STI

I participated in Chemsex and now I’m worried I may have a substance misuse problem. What can I do?

If you are worried you or someone you know may have a substance misuse problem, you can get support from WDP.

Visit WDP website

You only need to have unprotected sex once to get HIV or another STI, or pass one onto someone else. The more sexual partners you have, the more at risk you are. This is true whether you have more than one partner at the same time or at different times.

Visit the NHS website to find out more about STIs and their symptoms.                                                                                      

Five myths about STIs

Myth: Only “trashy” people get STIs
Fact: STIs don’t discriminate

Myth: If your partner has an STD, you'll see it.
Fact: There's often no sign that a person has an STD.

Myth: You can avoid STIs by having oral or anal sex.
Fact: Where there's sex (oral, anal, vaginal, or even just sexual contact) there can be STDs.

Myth: Once you've had an STD, there's no chance of getting it again.
Fact: You can get some STDs more than just once.

Myth: If you get checked and you're STD free, your partner doesn't need to get checked as well.
Fact: Your partner could have an STD and not know it.

What you can expect when testing

Your privacy

At the clinic, you can be sure of patient confidentiality. You don't have to give your real name, but make sure the clinic can contact you to give you the results of any tests. This can be done by letter, phone or text message depending on the clinic.

A doctor or a nurse will ask you questions about your relationships and sexual partners, what contraception you use and any relevant medical history. This is to help them work out what tests you need.

If you have an infection, you'll need to inform the people you've had sex with in the last six months so that they can be tested. If you haven't had sex during this time, let your last sexual partner know. If you don't want to do this, the clinic can usually contact a partner for you without mentioning your name.

Getting your test results

With some tests, you can get the results and treatment, if you need it on the same day. For others, you might have to wait for a week or two. If this is the case, the clinic will check how you would prefer to receive your results.

If you test positive for an STI, you will be asked to go back to the clinic to talk about your results and the treatment you need.

If you’ve received a positive result in the past, you should get retested every six months or when you change your partner.

Further advice

Useful links

Other MyLife pages: Local sexual health services, HIV and AIDS, Contraceptives, Sexual abuse

External websites: Hainault Health Centre, Loxford Polyclinic, Sexual health services in Barking, Havering and Redbridge, PositiveEast,, DoItLondon

Useful links to locate local services: Sexual health services near you, Your nearest genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic or sexual health clinic, Find a sexual health clinic near you, Find HIV testing services, Find a pharmacy near you, Visiting a STI clinic