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Sexual health

Our sexual health affects our physical and psychological wellbeing and is central to some of the most important and lasting relationships in our lives. 

Poor sexual health can result in Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including HIV, unplanned pregnancies and abortions as well as relationship problems.

Do you know your HIV status?

Our public health team works with our partners in healthcare to encourage people to find out their HIV status. Knowing your status can give you peace of mind or the opportunity to seek treatment giving you better health and a longer life.

  • HIV is found in the body fluids of an infected person, which includes semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood and breast milk.
  • Anyone who has unprotected sex or shares needles or other injecting equipment is at risk from contracting the virus. Unprotected sex includes anal, oral and vaginal sex and sharing sex toys.
  • 1 in 4 people who have HIV do not know that they have it. This means approximately 21,900 people in the UK are unknowingly living with HIV and potentially infecting others. 
  • Treatment for HIV is now better than ever. An HIV test can give you better health, a longer life and peace of mind. People who have the virus can live as long as those without the virus if diagnosed early and they start treatment.
  • If you think you have put yourself at risk of HIV, you should seek medical advice and have a test as soon as recommended. Emergency anti-HIV medication called PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) may stop you becoming infected, but treatment must be started within three days of coming into contact with the virus.
  • Testing is free and confidential, available from your GP surgery or Gaol Street Clinic, Hereford. Walk-in clinics at Gaol Street run Monday to Friday 9am to 11am. More information about service opening times

For more information on HIV visit the HIV page of NHS Choices and the websites listed below on this page.

Syphilis is on the rise in Herefordshire

  • All cases have been in men - both heterosexual men and 'men who have sex with men' - but women are also at risk
  • Oral sex is the main way that syphilis is spreading in Herefordshire
  • A simple blood test will tell you if you have syphilis
  • Free, confidential testing and treatment is available from Gaol Street Clinic, Hereford. Walk-in clinics run Monday to Friday 9am to 11am. More information about service opening times.

For more information on signs and symptoms of syphilis, visit the syphilis page of NHS Choices.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

There are a number of ways to reduce risk of STIs:

Use a condom.  Try to use a condom every time for vaginal, anal and oral sex. Be prepared by always carrying condoms with you. Here are some tips on using a condom

Talk about sex. Here are some tips for talking about sex with your partner, young child or teenager

Get tested. If you are having sex or have ever had unprotected sex, get tested to be sure you are STI free.  For where you can get tested, see the options below.  Find out what it will be like to visit an STI clinic

More information on STIs

Unplanned pregnancy

To avoid unplanned pregnancy, use contraception. There are 15 types available free on the NHS - find out which is right for you. Remember that you won’t be protected against STIs unless you use a condom. Find out more about contraception

Women are able to access Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC) from their GP, sexual health clinic or from a community pharmacy. Various community pharmacies offer free emergency hormonal contraception across Herefordshire, many have longer opening hours and there is often no need for an appointment. Find out which community pharmacies provide this service.

Remember: EHC is not a regular form of contraception and should not be used on a regular basis. It also doesn’t protect you or your partner from STIs.

Find out more about sexual health


To get contraception, STI testing and free, confidential advice, not only about sex, contraceptives, sexual health and pregnancy, but also if you need to talk to someone about making the first step:

Sexual health services – is a specialist service which offers diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and contraception.

People under 21: The sexual health service provides a young people's contraception/sexually transmitted infection walk-in clinic on a Wednesday from 2pm to 5pm. No appointment needed.  

For further information visit:
Sexual health services
Gaol Street Health Centre

Telephone: 01432 378915

For people in education: Visit your school nurse or student information service. They provide information, advice and some sexual health services. Don't forget to pick up your free Chlamydia testing kit.

Your GP

Emergency Hormonal Contraception - EHC is available from pharmacies in Herefordshire, helping to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Find out which community pharmacies provide this service.

Young People

A to Z of services