All Posts Tagged: sexual health

STI

Sexually transmissible infections (STIs) – the big ones

If you’re sexually active, you can get an STI even if you practice safe sex most of the time.

There are many different STIs and not all of them have obvious symptoms, so there’s a chance that you or your partner could have an STI without knowing it.

Most STIs are curable and all are treatable. But if left untreated, STIs can have long-term effects on your body.

Here are the big ones you should know about.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is often called the ‘silent infection’ because most people don’t realise they have it.

If left untreated, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women, which can lead to chronic pain and infertility.

In men, untreated chlamydia can cause pain and swelling in the testicles.

Chlamydia may be treated with a single dose of antibiotics if detected early.

Syphilis

Syphilis is curable but, if left untreated, can lead to serious complications. A simple blood test can detect syphilis.

If you’re infected with syphilis and don’t seek treatment, you can remain infectious for up to two years.

Women can pass syphilis infection to their babies during pregnancy. This can cause miscarriage, serious birth defects in the baby or even stillbirth.

Gonorrhoea

Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of infection of gonorrhoea. It may occur without symptoms, especially in women.

Gonorrhoea is treatable but can lead to infertility in women if left untreated.

With all STIs, it’s important to let your sexual partner or partners know that you have an infection so that they can be tested and treated too.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes can be spread by vaginal, oral or anal sex and through skin-to-skin contact. Recurrences of genital herpes usually become less frequent and less painful over time.

There is no cure for herpes, but treatment helps ease symptoms and prevent recurrences.

Women diagnosed with genital herpes before or during pregnancy should discuss this with their GP.

Genital warts

Genital warts are one of the most common STIs. They’re caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

There are more than 100 strains of HPV, but only certain types affect the genitals and not all cause visible warts.

Genital warts can appear around the genitals and anus or, sometimes, inside the vagina, rectum or urethra.

Hepatitis B

This is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation. It’s transmitted through contaminated blood and other body fluids.

Hepatitis B can be prevented by immunisation. This provides very good protection (about 95 per cent effective) and is recommended for all infants, young children and adolescents, and people in high-risk groups.

Untreated hepatitis B can stay in the body for a long time and lead to liver scarring (cirrhosis), liver cancer and death.

Most people with hepatitis B in Australia became infected at birth or during their early childhood in countries overseas.

Hepatitis B may be spread through unsafe sex or sharing injecting equipment.

HIV

HIV is a virus that can weaken the immune system to the point that it’s unable to control some infections.

Most people living with HIV in Australia can expect to live long, healthy lives without ever developing AIDS (the most advanced stage of HIV infection), if they’re on effective treatment.

For those at higher risk of HIV, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a medication that, when taken as prescribed, is up to 99% effective at preventing the virus.

How do I protect myself from STIs?

Condoms are the easiest, and most effective way, to protect yourself from most STIs.

It’s important to note though that condoms, even when used correctly, don’t guarantee 100 per cent protection against STIs or unplanned pregnancy.

Sex using a condom may still spread an infection if the condom doesn’t fully cover the infected area. Also, a condom may break, particularly if it hasn’t been stored properly or the right lubricant hasn’t been used.

You can check out this page for tips on safe sex.

Book in for an STI test in Pascoe Vale

If you’re sexually active, it’s important to get an STI test at least once a year.

Make an appointment straight away if you notice symptoms after having sex without a condom or dental dam, if the condom broke or slipped off during sex, or when you start a new relationship.

In most cases, a simple blood or urine sample is all that’s needed.

Source: BetterHealth

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs. Page last updated 30 March 2022.

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Travel health tip - wash your hands

8 helpful travel health tips (how to stay safe overseas)

You’ve probably heard about the coronavirus by now.

Originating in China, it’s a new virus that can cause respiratory illness, including pneumonia.

There are thousands of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world, including Australia, and some people have even died (you can get the latest coronavirus updates here).

While our travel health checklist has tips to help you before you go overseas, we thought it was timely to provide advice on how to stay safe once you’ve actually arrived at your destination.

1. Keep your hands clean

Proper handwashing can protect you and others from a range of diseases.

Make sure you wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating, when handling food and after you use the toilet.

You could also carry hand sanitiser with you as a back-up, to help keep the germs at bay.

2. Avoid sick people

This might seem obvious, but keep your distance from sick people.

And, keep your immune system strong by drinking lots of water, eating a balanced diet and sleeping well.

3. Think before you eat and drink

Getting gastro overseas is common. But you can try to minimise the dreaded ‘traveller’s diarrhoea’!

While a glass of soft drink might be safe, the ice in the glass could be made with contaminated water.

High-risk foods include raw meat and seafood, salads and unpasteurised dairy products.

4. Don’t get too drunk

The alcohol content of drinks varies between countries. So, a vodka soda in Europe could be twice as strong as what you drink here.

When you’re drunk, you might drop your guard and become an easy target for petty criminals, or worse. It’s not worth the risk.

(As an aside – if you need help with a drinking problem please contact us.)

5. Avoid wild and feral animals

The coronavirus is believed to have started in an animal market in central China.

So, when you’re overseas, avoid areas such as farms, live animal markets, and areas where animals are slaughtered, including fish and seafood.

If you do come into contact with animals or animal products, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth until you have thoroughly cleaned your hands.

Some overseas destinations, like Bali and Thailand, are known for their street dogs and wild monkeys. Many of these animals have rabies, and if you’re bitten, it could be fatal.

Luckily, you can get immunised for rabies before you go. And remember to stay abreast with Smartraveller updates too!

6. Protect yourself from insects

Similar to wild animals, our insect friends can wreak havoc on our health if we’re not careful.

In many parts of the world, the bite of infected mosquitoes can spread infectious diseases including yellow fever, malaria and dengue fever.

Travel health tip: protect yourself by wearing mosquito repellent, and have a chat with us about vaccinations or medications you can take.

7. Protect yourself against the sun

We know how hot it can get in Australia. But the sun can also hit you in many countries overseas!

Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, and reapply when necessary. There are other ways you can protect your skin from the sun too.

8. Have safe sex

Condoms are not just for stopping pregnancy – they’re to help protect you from sexually transmissible infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, herpes, hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS.

The rate of STIs in some countries is very high. So, if you’re sexually active, carry condoms with you.

When you return

Pay close attention to your health in the fortnight after you get back from overseas. If you’re feeling unwell you should see your doctor.

And remember, our team can assist with all your travel health requirements including vaccinations. Stay safe and happy travels!

 

Source: BetterHealth Channel, Smartraveller, Department of Health

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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HIV Melbourne

HIV and AIDS: get the facts

HIV still exists in Australia. There were 963 new HIV diagnoses in Australia in 2017.

Although this is the lowest number of diagnoses since 2010, we need to make sure this trend continues.

What is HIV?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a condition that can cause AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). HIV and AIDS are not the same thing.

Left untreated, HIV attacks the body’s immune system making the body vulnerable to infections and medical conditions that the immune system would be normally capable of controlling.

What is AIDS?

AIDS refers to the illnesses that can develop as a result of untreated HIV or in a person where current treatments have failed. People living with HIV in Australia may still develop AIDS, but this is now rare.

HIV is a chronic condition

HIV can affect anyone. While there is no vaccine or cure for HIV, there are highly effective treatments.

People with HIV take medications on a daily basis to maintain their HIV at an undetectable level and to keep them healthy.

Today, HIV is considered a chronic but manageable condition, and people with HIV can lead long and healthy lives, with a similar life expectancy to a person who does not have HIV.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV may be present in blood, semen, vaginal fluid, menstrual fluid, rectal fluids, and in breast milk. It may be transmitted when such fluids from a person with HIV enters the body of a person without HIV during anal or vaginal sex where preventative measures are not used. HIV may also be transmitted through the sharing of needles or through unsterile tattooing and piercing processes.

HIV is not an air-borne virus such as the flu. It cannot be passed on by hugging, kissing, shaking hands, coughing or sneezing, nor can it be transmitted through sharing toilets, washing facilities, eating utensils or consuming food and beverages handled by someone who has HIV.

How can you help prevent HIV transmission?

  • Practice safer sex, i.e. by using condoms with water-based lubricants
  • Take medication called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
  • Treatment as Prevention (TasP) – use of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) medicine reduces the amount of HIV in a person’s body and may lead to what is called ‘viral suppression’, reducing the likelihood of transmission of HIV to a HIV-negative person
  • Protect yourself while you travel – if you’re sexually active, take condoms and lubricant to countries where there is a high prevalence of HIV
  • Don’t share needles and personal care items (e.g. razors) as this can increase the risk of HIV being transmitted through blood
  • Get tested if you’re at risk or have known risk factors.

​​​​​​​​To learn more about the ways you can help prevent HIV transmission, please make a booking with your doctor.

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year. It raises awareness across the world and in the community about HIV and AIDS. It is a day for the community to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died of AIDS related conditions or other conditions associated with HIV.

Get tested at PVH Medical

The only way to know if you have HIV is through HIV testing, such as a blood test.

You can get a confidential test by visiting your doctor and asking for an HIV test.

 

Source: World AIDS Day Australia

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Call us on 9304 0500 to book in!