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Frequently Asked Questions

At Unity Sexual Health we see many people from all walks of life. Everybody has their own questions and concerns and we have outlined and answered some of the more common questions below.

While we can’t cover every question you may have, you can contact one of our Health Advisers for any sexual health queries that aren’t covered here.

If you have symptoms, we recommend you get an examination at one of our Unity clinics.

  • I have no symptoms, could I still have an STI?

    Many STIs have no symptoms at all. It’s important to get tested even if you think nothing is wrong as you may risk passing on infection or developing further problems.

    Further information on STIs

  • I'm worried about HIV, what should I do?

    If you are worried that you have been exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours, you may require Post-Exposure Prophylaxis following sexual exposure (PEPSE). PEPSE can be accessed at Unity Central clinic or any Accident and Emergency department.

    Further information on PEPSE

    If you think you need an HIV test you can attend a clinic one month following a possible exposure to HIV. It can take one month to be able to detect HIV in the blood test.

    You may be at risk of HIV if you have had unprotected sex with someone who has HIV, or you share needles or have wounds that have been exposed to infected blood.

    Further information on HIV

  • How long after sex should I be tested?

    After unprotected sexual contact you can have a test to check for any sexually transmitted infections or STIs. In order to make sure the test is accurate, you may be asked to repeat the test after a certain amount of time after the sexual contact. This time is also known as a “window period”. The window periods are different for different infections:

    • Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea – two weeks after sexual contact.
    • HIV – one month after sexual contact.
    • Syphilis and Hepatitis – three months after sexual contact.

    Unity pages on STI testing

  • I've heard getting tested can be painful. Is that true?

    Most of the time you will only be required to provide a urine sample or take your own swab. You may also have a blood test, which takes a small amount of blood from a vein in the arm.

    Sometimes other tests may be required which may cause mild discomfort, but shouldn’t be painful. Some people may need a genital examination, which is performed by professional clinicians who will make the procedure as comfortable as possible.

  • How accurate are the tests?

    No test is 100% accurate, but they are very effective tests and an error would be very unlikely.

    In order to make sure the test is accurate as possible, you may be asked to repeat the test after a certain amount of time after the sexual contact. This time is also known as a “window period”. The window periods are different for different infections:

    • Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea – two weeks after sexual contact.
    • HIV – one month after sexual contact.
    • Syphilis and Hepatitis – three months after sexual contact.
  • How do I get my results?

    If you attended Unity Central health clinic, then you will receive a text or phone call within three weeks of attendance.

    You can also visit Unity Central health clinic to collect your results in person from one week after your tests.

    If you attended a Community clinic, then you may only receive a call or text if we need to speak to you. If the results are negative we may not contact you.

    We regret that you cannot call in for results, as we are a confidential clinic and cannot provide patient information to callers.

  • Can having an STI cause problems having children?

    Certain STIs can cause problems with reduced fertility if they are not treated for a long period of time. If left untreated, STIs can affect both men and women’s fertility.

    However, the vast majority of cases lead to no long term health problems at all, so having an STI does not mean that you will not be able to conceive.

  • Will I need a Hepatitis B injection?

    Only certain people need a Hepatitis B vaccination. This may be because:

    • You have had multiple partners in a short period of time
    • You are male and have sex with other men
    • You inject drugs
    • You have paid for, or have been paid, for sex.

    The staff working at Unity will take a sexual history and may suggest vaccinations for certain other groups – for example if you have a partner from an area where hepatitis B is very common or endemic.

  • I've had sex with someone but I didn't want to. What should I do?

    The Bridge is a service that offers 24/7, confidential support for anyone who has had sex against their will. They can book an appointment for you and advise you every step of the way.

    Further information on The Bridge

  • I've only had oral sex. Can I get an STI?

    Yes.

    Most STIs can be transmitted orally, so you may need to do a throat swab if you have had oral sex with a partner. If you have an infection in your throat, you may be at risk of transmitting it if you go on to give someone oral sex.

  • Will I need to pay for Unity services?

    No. All services provided by Unity are free of charge.

    Unity is run by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, which is part of the NHS. There may be an additional charge for unusual or specific requests but most people will not need to pay anything.

  • What if my results are seen by my GP/colleague/friend who works in the hospital?

    All information is completely confidential. Your information is stored under a randomised clinic number and tests are performed using this number rather than your name. We do not share information with other clinics/hospitals unless you specifically request it.

    Further information on Confidentiality

     

  • Do you provide condoms?

    Yes.

    You may also obtain a condom card. This entitles you to 20 free condoms per month. You may be offered condoms during a consultation.

  • I’m not sure if I should come in to clinic or not. Can I speak to somebody over the phone?

    Our Health Adviser team are on hand to talk through concerns on the phone with you if you are unsure what to do. Sometimes they may be busy in clinic but will contact you if you leave them a message.

    To speak to a health adviser call 0117 342 6944

    For further information see Accessing advice

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