HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) is launching an all day ‘STI Testival’ for Oxford students, to encourage them to test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). On Thursday 27th May, THT’s ‘Fastest’ clinic on Pembroke Street will be open from 9.00am – 9.00pm, offering free, confidential testing to students and other local people.
In 2008, those in the 16-24 age bracket accounted for nearly half of all STI diagnoses in the UK, and approximately one in fourteen under 25s currently has chlamydia without knowing. As Oxford is a city with a large student population, THT is targeting this group locally in an effort to bring down high levels of undiagnosed STIs.
At the ‘Fastest’ service, testing for chlamydia and gonorrhoea involves taking a urine sample which is then posted off to the lab; results are available within a week. For those who test positive, THT will provide antibiotics to treat the infection.
The clinic also uses a finger-prick blood test to check for HIV, with the results provided within fifteen minutes. Those who attend the clinic will be given information and advice before and after the test, and anyone who tests HIV positive will be fast tracked into a treatment centre.
THT clinics and workers also offer information on STIs and safer sex, as well as giving out free condoms.
Joshua Hall, Centre Manager for THT in Oxford, said: “We know tests are an unavoidable part of student life, but checking for STIs doesn’t need any revision and is a great way to achieve piece of mind. We’re determined to get rates of undiagnosed STIs down so people aren’t putting themselves at risk of long-term health problems. We want to make sure young people know that – where good sexual health is concerned – going for regular check-ups is just as important as using condoms.”
Helen, a 24-year-old Oxford student, said: “Getting a regular sexual health check-up is really important to me; it means one less thing to worry about while I’m a student. The Terrence Higgins Trust are knowledgeable and discreet and the staff really friendly. The ‘Fastest’ service can give you results in 15 minutes, so there’s no waiting around and staff are always on hand to answer questions and give advice.”