Skip to main content

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 and is available from your GP surgery or at iSH based at 29-30 Commercial Road, Hereford. More about iSH opening times and walk in clinics

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 Integrated Sexual Health (iSH), 29-30 Commercial Road, Hereford
    HR1 2BG, Telephone: 01432 266908. 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 from their GP, sexual health or from a community pharmacy. Certain community pharmacies provide access to free EHC (Levonelle) across the county, available to those aged 14 and over or it can be purchased from any pharmacy (if you are 16 years old or over). Contact your local pharmacy for more details.

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

Services 

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

People 18 and under: 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.

Free STI home testing kits are available and can be returned via post. Please visit the website for more information.   

For further information visit:
Integrated Sexual Health (iSH)
29-30 Commercial Road
Hereford
HR1 2BG

Telephone: 01432 266908

For people in education: Visit your school nurse or student information service. They provide information, advice and some sexual health services. 

Your GP

Women are able to access Emergency Hormonal Contraception from their GP, sexual health or from a community pharmacy. Certain community pharmacies provide access to free EHC (Levonelle) across the county, available to those aged 14 and over or it can be purchased from any pharmacy (if you are 16 years old or over). Contact your local pharmacy for more details.

Young People

A to Z of services