In the UK, sexually transmitted infections are pretty common. In 2020, there were almost 320,000 new diagnoses in England alone.
The good news is, most STIs won’t cause lasting damage to your health if they’re treated early. However, for treatment to happen, you have to know that you have an STI in the first place. This is why regular testing is really important.
How often you get tested for STIs like chlamydia and HIV will depend upon your personal circumstances and lifestyle – to find out more, read on.
Who is most at risk of STIs?
If you’re sexually active and having sex, you’re at risk of catching an STI. The risk is higher if you have sex with a new or casual partner. This is the case even if you’re using condoms, as there are several STIs that spread through skin-to-skin contact or through other types of sexual activity, like oral sex or sharing sex toys. In short: everyone who is sexually active can get an STI!
However, there are a few groups of people generally thought to be at a higher risk of catching an STI, including:
Men who have sex with men (MSM)
Black ethnic groups
People aged 15 to 24
There are various reasons why these groups may have a higher risk, including the type of sex people are having, a lack of access to information and testing. As an example, men who have sex with men may be more at risk of STIs because anal sex is a riskier type of sexual activity when compared to others. The lining of the anus is thin and easily damaged, which means it’s more vulnerable to infection.
Meanwhile, younger people are generally thought to be more at risk because they have “higher rates of partner change” than older age groups.