As we emerge out of lockdown and fast forward to our upcoming ‘freedom’, many of us are now excitedly booking our summer holidays, with the current in vogue staycations being equally as thrilling as exotic overseas trips. It’s been a long 16 months, but the sun is shining 😊 and suitcases are at the ready.
Those busy planning retreats to a coast, to sip on fruity cocktails or enjoy cool beers with their buddies for a week or so of holiday fun in the sun, plus the long-awaited opening of our nightclubs (hooray)! will soon see us mingling and meeting new people once more. Personally, we literally cannot wait!
You can feel the building buzz of excitement, with the thrill of release and a whiff of wild and crazy times in the air - the prospect of the 2021 ‘Summer of Love’ is burning in the hearts of many.
Along with the free-flowing drinks, often comes the free-flowing love… But, along with a possible hangover from hell the next morning, there might also be another longer lasting legacy - a potential STI from the holiday romance ‘ahem’ pulled last night!
Sun, sand, sea and sex with a stranger is nothing new, but this is the summer that sexual health experts are warning will be the summer of STI’s.
Experts are particularly concerned about a particularly potent strain of gonorrhoea, which is the most common STI in the UK, that has become antibiotic resistant – Super Gonorrhoea. The World Health Organisation warns that this super strain is now a common phenomenon and treatments are becoming increasingly difficult. If gonorrhoea is not treated effectively, in addition to reproductive complications, there is a five-fold increase of HIV transmission.
HIV globally has become increasingly overlooked as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but should still be very much a consideration, especially when having unprotected sex with a new partner who doesn’t know their status, whether straight or gay. HIV, unlike most other STI’s, is symptomless, other than a brief flu like illness that can be experienced by some when your body starts to make antibodies a month or two after contracting the virus (seroconverts). So unless you and your new partner know your status, there’s a risk around potential transmission.
Since fleeting romances do not often provoke a conversation around sexual health and such discussions sorrowfully can be considered a bit of a ‘buzz killer’, the easiest way to have fun but be safe is to use condoms. Take control and carry condoms in your bag/wallet/pocket and don’t just expect your partner to have one – just expect them to use one. If they refuse, the chances are it’s highly likely they’ve had unprotected sex with someone else… so you have to ask yourself if it is really worth the risk!
If you’ve already been away and think you might have taken a risk with your sexual health and didn’t use / ran out / didn’t have time to think to use a condom (don’t worry, we’ve all been there), or if you haven’t tested for HIV in a while, it’s time to take control and sort out getting tested. There are treatments available for all STI’s, including HIV, and the earlier you find out, the better the outcome and the easier the treatment. But you can’t get treated if you don’t first test.
Testing for HIV with the OraQuick HIV Self Test is so simple and can be quickly crossed off your list. An easy and pain free swab of the gums is all that is needed to provide you with your own accurate result in just 20 minutes, in your own time and place, so you can make informed choices on your own terms.
You can find out more about the OraQuick HIV Self Test
This summer enjoy yourself, have fun and make memories that you can look back on and smile about, without the worry about of not knowing your status.