COVID-19 has changed the way we do things in just about every aspect of our lives. This is also true in regards to sexual health testing in Scotland.
So can I get tested routinely? We advocate regular sexual health screening. However, just now testing services have had to change and adapt to the pressures of COVID19 and the impact on our communities. The majority of services have had to change the way you can access them. Sexual health services are not closed, but in many cases, they are remotely assessing who they see and whether you need to physically attend the service just now or you can wait for a few more weeks until the worst of COVID19 has passed.
I think I have symptoms. If you think you have symptoms, such as discharge from your penis or pain and irritation around your genitals or ass, then you should get in contact with your local sexual health service who will advise you what to do next. It is important to seek medical advice, as symptoms can mean you have an infection and this is something that might need to be treated. Your sexual health services will advise you further as this may be an urgent clinical issue that needs attention
I have been sexually assaulted, what I can do? If you have been sexually assaulted then you should access services as soon as possible. Sexual clinics will want to hear from you and will be on offer to give you support. If you need help outside of routine clinical and service opening times, then contact NHS 24. It is important to do this as soon as possible as there are things that might need to be done immediately. Most NHS boards have specialised sexual assault services where you will be seen by trained workers, who can support you through the next steps.
I’m on PrEP, what do I need to think about? Some guys that are not meeting others for sex have stopped taken PrEP just now. However, if you are likely to have sex and have stopped taken PrEP, then you are likely to be at risk of HIV unless you consider event-based dosing, use condoms or your partner is undetectable and won’t pass it on.
A lot of guys are wondering about their check-ups at the moment. Most sexual health services will have been or will be in contact to advise you on your next steps in relation to this. If your appointment is soon and you haven’t heard anything get in touch with them directly.
What is event-based dosing? Event-based dosing is when you take PrEP over the period you are having sex. It is important to make sure you manage your doses, as missing out on one can make PrEP less effective and reduce your protection.
Staying Undetectable. If you have HIV, continue to take your medication as your care team prescribed. There is no reason to stop taken your meds during COVID 19. Keeping yourself healthy and remaining undetectable will help you if you become infected with COVID 19. Again, your clinic should be in touch or will get in touch with you about your appointments. If you are worried get in contact with them directly.
Do I need to access PEP(SE)? Post Exposure Prophylaxis (Sexual Exposure) PEP is HIV treatment that can prevent you from becoming HIV positive. For it to work, you need to act quickly following any potential exposure to HIV. Ideally you need to do this within 24 hours, but no later than 72 hours. If you think PEP is for you then you should contact your Local Sexual Health Service. If it is not open, contact NHS 24 or go to Accident and Emergency.