Don't neglect your sexual health
February is dedicated to STI/Condom Month, and Western Cape Government Health (WCGH) is encouraging sexually active persons to educate themselves about using condoms and practising safe sex to help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This year’s theme is ‘We’re in this together, Cheka Impilo’.
Cheka Impilo is a national health campaign which loosely translated means to have a health check. The campaign challenges each one of us to be aware of our health and to be responsible for our own health choices. STIs are caused by germs passed from one person to another during unprotected sexual intercourse which can be vaginal, anal or oral sex. STIs remain a big problem and can affect your reproductive health in the future. Most of these infections can be cured, but stigma and the reluctance to talk about sex and related issues openly, hinder people from seeking treatment in time. The consequences of not seeking treatment can be devastating and life-threatening.
Sexual health in men is often neglected, and STI prevalence remains high and common in men who practice unsafe sex. These STIs include syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydial infection, genital herpes and genital warts. Men are more symptomatic than women and providing STI services in men is a high priority for WCGH. This provides an opportunity to manage their sexual partner(s) who are often asymptomatic.
Never leave an STI untreated. If you think that you may have an STI, you can visit your clinic, which adheres to all appropriate COVID-19 safety protocols. Most symptoms are easily noticed and treated if reported early. When visiting a clinic, clients can expect a private and confidential consultation; a full history including sexual history to be taken; a full examination and diagnosis of STI to be performed; an HIV test to be offered; and condom provision and demonstrations. In some instances, a partner notification slip will be offered which identifies the sexual partner(s) of a client with an STI so that they can be made aware of their exposure and be encouraged to go on treatment.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the distributions of condoms by public health facilities and community organisations, WCGH will continue to recommend condoms as an effective measure of preventing STIs and unwanted pregnancy. Using a condom properly and consistently can reduce the risk of getting infected.
If you have any vaginal, penile or anal discharge or sores, go to your clinic for STI screening. You can also visit your clinic if you want to access condoms.
Download here: Stay protected when having sex
For more information, visit: www.westerncape.gov.za/service/sexually-transmitted-infections
Byron la Hoe
Cell: 072 368 0596