STI/STD Screening

Sexual Health Clinic Sydney CBD

Sexual Health Clinic

If you suspect that you have sexually transmitted diseases or infections; HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis or any other STI / STD, you must immediately contact Sexual Health Clinic Sydney CBD to get tested.

First step is to get you into screening so that we can come up with a diagnosis (or declare you clear) and recommend the appropriate treatments. We will be with you every step of the way, we will explain to you what it all means. STI is short for Sexually Transmitted Infections, and was previously known as STD: Sexually Transmitted Diseases; this term was abandoned due to the pejorative implications of the word “disease”.

STIs can take a variety of forms and are passed through skin to skin contact, some across mucosal membranes (such as mouth and lips), and some through bodily fluids. Depending on the types of sexual activities you’ve engaged in, coupled with who you have sex with, there is a risk, no matter how minuscule, that you’ve been exposed to an STI. It is better to be safe than sorry, you need to act now. Or if you need a hand with management of an infection you already have (such as HIV or herpes), we can help too.

Sexual Health Clinic Sydney CBD

What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a germ (bacterium) called Chlamydia trachomatis.

Chlamydia affects men and women differently: in women, chlamydias infection usually affects the neck of the womb (cervix) and the womb (uterus), where as in men, it usually affects the pipe through which urine is passed (the urethra) in the penis. It is also possible for Chlamydia to cause infection of the eye, throat and lungs in both men and women. 

How do I contract chlamydia?

As chlamydia is a bacterial infection, most people with chlamydia get the infection by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person. That is, you can get infected with chlamydia if you come into contact with the semen and/or vaginal fluids of a person with chlamydia.

 

It is important to note that a lot of people who have contracted chlamydia are not aware that they have the infection – because many of those infected have no symptoms (No symptoms occur in around 7 in 10 infected women and 5 in 10 infected men). Consequently, it is common for people to be infected with chlamydia for months, even years, without realising it. The risk of infection increases with the number of changes of sexual partner.

The good news? You cannot catch chlamydia from hugging, kissing or from sharing cups or cutlery.

OK, so no symptoms most of the time. How do I know I contracted it? What symptoms should I look for?

It is not easy to know whether you’ve contracted it. It is possible for you to have contracted chlamydia and not have any symptoms until several weeks or even months.

If symptoms do occur in women, they may include:

  • Vaginal discharge. This is due to the neck of the womb (cervix) becoming inflamed.
  • Pain or burning when you pass urine.
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods. In particular, bleeding after you have sex.
  • Pain or discomfort in the lower tummy (abdomen) area (the pelvic area), especially when you have sex.

If symptoms do occur in men, they may include:

  • Pain or burning when you pass urine.
  • Discharge from the end of your penis.
  • Pain or discomfort at the end of your penis.

That’s scary. Am I at risk?

Sexually active people are at risk of getting chlamydia. You are at a higher risk of contracting chlamydia if you have multiple sexual partners and/or engage in unprotected sex. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are also at risk since chlamydia can spread through oral and anal sex. If your sex partner is male, you can still get chlamydia even if he does not ejaculate (cum).

Shit. I think I may have chlamydia. What do I do now? Can I do anything treat it?

Go to your doctor and have an honest and open talk with them. Tell them your concerns and ask whether you should be tested for chlamydia or other STDs. Basically, everyone should get a test of chlamydia: whether you are straight, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, pregnant or not pregnant should get tested for chlamydia. If you are a sexually active person younger than 25 years or someone with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or have a sexual partner with an STD, you should get tested for chlamydia every year.

If you do have chlamydia, it is vitally important you start treatment for chlamydia immediately as prompt treatment reduces the risk of complications in the future. If you strongly suspect that you have contracted chlamydia, ask your doctor to begin treatment before test results are available.

The treatment for chlamydia is usually a short course of an antibiotic medicine. Due to the nature of treatment, you should tell your doctor if you are (or may be) pregnant or are breast-feeding as this may affect the choice of antibiotic.

The most commonly used antibiotics are:

  • Doxycycline 1 tablet twice a day for seven days; OR
  • Erythromycin 1 tablet only – single dose.

If these are not suitable for you, your doctor will advise other options for you.

Remember that you must finish the treatment for chlamydia before you entertain the idea of having sex. If your treatment was in the form of a single-dose antibiotic, you must wait for seven days before you even think about having sex. So no treatment gives you an instantaneous result.

What happens if you have sex during treatment? You risk passing chlamydia to your sexual partner, who will then pass it back to you.

Speaking of partner, does my partner need to be treated?

Absolutely. Because if your sexual partner is infected and not treated then chlamydia can be passed back to you again after you are treated.

Other sexual partners within the previous six months should also be tested for infection. Yes, it’s not fun, but necessary. This is because it is important that anyone who is at risk of infection with chlamydia is both identified and treated. There may be certain occasions when you may not want to contact partners from previous relationships. In these cases staff at the clinic can contact previous partners for you without disclosing your details.

Can I just pretend this never happened? What if I just ignore it?

If left untreated, chlamydia infection may result in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is an infection of the womb (uterus) and Fallopian tubes. Around 10-40% of women with chlamydia develop PID. This can occur in two ways: a sudden development coupled with a high temperature (fever) and pain; or a silent development where development occur slowly over months or years without causing symptoms. Overtime, this may lead to scarring or damage to the Fallopian tubes and further cause chronic pelvic pain, infertility as well as an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy (a condition where the pregnancy develops in a Fallopian tube and can cause serious life-threatening problems). Chlamydia has been known to also reduce fertility in men.

Pregnant women with untreated chlamydia have an increased risk of developing some complications of pregnancy, such as miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth. If chlamydias infection remains untreated till childbirth, the new born baby may develop a chlamydias infection of their eye or lung during the birth.

Sometimes, the immune system ‘over-reacts’ to chlamydias infection. When this happens, you get painful swollen joints – reactive arthritis is a rare complication which can occur both in men and in women.  Combined with inflammation of the eye and the urethra, it results in Reiter’s syndrome.

The good news is that the risk of complications is significantly reduced if chlamydias infection is detected and treated early, so go and get yourself tested – at least for some peace of mind.

Should I just like you know stop having sex altogether? But that’s not possible!

Yeah, ok, ideally, you don’t have any kind of sex to avoid chlamydia. Abstinence is the best protection!

But if you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your risks of contracting chlamydia. First, have protected sex. Use condoms the right way every single time you have sex. Second, find a sexual partner who is free from STI and be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with that person. Remember your partner needs to have been tested and have negative STD test results.

If you suspect that you have HIV or any other STI / STD, you must immediately contact us on ARYS Health by calling 02-81882299 or sms 0413 163 360 or book online. Our sexual health clinic practitioners have over 30 years experience and operate on a confidential basis.

 What is gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a germ (bacterium) gonococcus, which is also known as Neisseria gonorrhoea bacterium.

How do I contract gonorrhoea?

As gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection, most people with gonorrhoea get the infection by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person. That is, you can get infected with gonorrhoea if you come into contact with the semen and/or vaginal fluids of a person with gonorrhoea. This includes sex between men and women as well as sex between men and men. Ejaculation does not have to occur for gonorrhoea to be transmitted or acquired.

Gonorrhoea affects both men and women with infection commonly happen in the urethra (the pipe through which urine is passed) but also in the mouth, throat, eyes and anus through infected secretion.

The good news? You cannot catch gonorrhoea from hugging, kissing or from sharing cups or cutlery.

How do I know I contracted it? What symptoms should I look for? 

If you have contracted gonorrhoea infection and you are a man, chance is that you will know within a week. You will experience urethritis (that is, infection of your urethra), which results in urethral discharge. This means you will experience discharge or liquid of any colour (besides urine or semen), which comes out of the opening of the penis around one to two weeks after you had sexual contact with the infected person.

If you are a woman on the other hand, it’s a bit tricker. In 50% of cases, women experience vaginal discharge and some of these cases are accompanied with pain in the lower part of the stomach. It can also be in the form of pain while urinating, similar to the symptoms of urine infection.

In both men and women, contraction of gonorrhoea can result in infections of the throat and/or rectum. You’ll experience anal itching and/or throat irritation, including soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements

If left untreated symptoms may clear without treatment and infected person keep on shedding and transmitting the infection.

That’s scary. Am I at risk?
Generally sexually active people are at risk of contracting any kind of STI, including gonorrhoea. You are at a higher risk of contracting gonorrhoea if you have multiple sexual partners and/or engage in unprotected sex. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are also at risk since gonorrhoea can spread through oral and anal sex.

Shit. I think I may have gonorrhoea. What do I do now? Can I do anything treat it?

The first thing you do is to go to your doctor and have an honest and open talk with them. Tell them your concerns and ask whether you should be tested for gonorrhoea or other STDs. This may include telling them your sexual activities history so that they can form an accurate assessment. Don’t be embarrassed; they are there to help you. Besides, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Basically, everyone should get a test of gonorrhoea: whether you are straight, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, pregnant or not pregnant. If you are a sexually active person younger than 25 years or someone with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or have a sexual partner with an STD, you should get tested for gonorrhoea every year.

If you do have gonorrhoea, it is vitally important you start treatment for gonorrhoea immediately as prompt treatment reduces the risk of complications in the future. If you strongly suspect that you have contracted gonorrhoea, ask your doctor to begin treatment before test results are available.

The treatment for gonorrhoea is usually a short course of an antibiotic medicine. Due to the nature of treatment, you should tell your doctor if you are (or may be) pregnant or are breast-feeding as this may affect the choice of antibiotic. The treatment includes a single injection of antibiotic and a large dose of oral antibiotics. If these are not suitable for you, your doctor will advise other options for you.

Remember that you must finish the treatment for gonorrhoea before you entertain the idea of having sex. If your treatment was in the form of a single-dose antibiotic, you must wait for seven days before you even think about having sex. So no treatment gives you an instantaneous result.

What happens if you have sex during treatment? You risk passing gonorrhoea to your sexual partner, who will then pass it back to you.

Speaking of partner, does my partner need to be treated?

Yes, absolutely. Your sexual partner should be tested and treated even if they do not have symptoms. If they are not treated, they risk passing the infection back to you and to others.

Even if you do not have symptoms, your other sexual partners within the last three months should also be tested for infection. Yes, this includes you identifying who they are and contacting them. It’s not fun, but necessary. This is because it is important that anyone who is at risk of infection with gonorrhoea is both identified and treated. There may be certain occasions when you may not want to contact partners from previous relationships. In these cases staff at the clinic can contact previous partners for you without disclosing your details. Or you can use facilities like “Let me Know” (http://www.letthemknow.org.au/)

Can I just pretend this never happened? What if I just ignore it?

Ignoring gonorrhoea is dangerous. Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men with detrimental implications.

In women, gonorrhoea can spread into the uterus and/or fallopian tubes which overtime advances to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID may lead to internal abscesses and chronic pelvic pain, damage the fallopian tubes leading to infertility and increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

In men, gonorrhoea may be coupled with epididymitis (inflammation of the membranes that connect your testicles to your body), which may lead to infertility.

Untreated gonorrhoea can spread to the blood and cause disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI), usually characterised by arthritis, tenosynovitis and/or dermatitis. This infection is really bad. It is basically capable of killing your joints, and there are cases where patients had to undergo hip replacement surgeries. This can develop into sepsis (when the infection spreads to your blood), and yes, in case you haven’t worked it out, it can be life threatening.

Pregnant women with untreated gonorrhoea risk passing on the infection to their newborn babies through the birth canal during delivery. This can cause blindness, joint infection and/or life threatening blood infection in the newborn babies. If you think you’ve contracted gonorrhoea, you need to start treatment as soon as possible to reduce the risk of these complications, as well as premature labour and atopic pregnancy.

The good news for everybody is that the risk of complications can be eliminated if gonorrhoea infection is detected and treated early. So it is vitally important that you go and get yourself tested – at least for some peace of mind. Consult your health care provider for appropriate examination, testing, and treatment, as necessary.

Should I just like you know stop having sex altogether? But that’s not possible!

Yeah, ok, ideally, you don’t have any kind of sex to avoid gonorrhea or any kind of STI. We always say that abstinence is the best protection!

But if you must have sex, then you need to protect yourself. Don’t just use a condom, but learn to use it the right way and use it every single time you have sex. Second, find a sexual partner who is free from STI and be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with that person. Remember your partner needs to have been tested and have negative STD test results for you to know for sure that they are free from STI.

If you suspect that you have gonorrhoea or any other STI / STD, you must immediately contact us on ARYS Health by calling 02-81882299 or sms (0413163360) or book online. Our sexual health clinic practitioners have over 30 years experience and operate on a confidential basis.

What is HIV?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus; it multiplies within a type of white blood cell (a lymphocyte) in the body called CD4 T cells. These cells are important in protecting the body against various bacteria, viruses and other germs. HIV infection can result in a weakened immune system. HIV cannot be destroyed by white blood cells as it keeps on changing its outer coat (and so constantly protecting itself). Just like most STIs, people with HIV can pass the virus on to others whether or not they have any symptoms.

What is AIDS?

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; it usually refers to a range of infections and illnesses arising from a weakened immune system caused by HIV. The development of antiretroviral therapy (ART) has altered the way we think about the condition.  These days, the term late-stage HIV is being increasingly used instead of AIDS.

Are HIV and AIDS the same thing?

 No. HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. People with HIV infection do not automatically develop AIDS. There is usually a time lag of several years between the two. This is because it takes several years for the number of CD4 T cells to reduce to a level that results in a weakened immune system. If those with HIV infection have been treated in the early stages, it is unlikely for AIDS to develop.

How do I contract HIV?

As HIV is a viral infection, to become infected with HIV, some infected blood, semen or vaginal secretions would have to get into your body. This can happen through blood transfusion, sharing needles or equipment that may be exposed to blood, from mothers to unborn babies and through sexual transmission. Most people with HIV get the infection by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person.

The good news? You cannot catch HIV from ordinary contact with someone with HIV such as touching, shaking hands, hugging, kissing or from sharing food, cups or cutlery.

How do I know I contracted it? What symptoms should I look for?

If you have contracted HIV infection, often you’ll experience the classic triad (three most common symptoms): sore throat, fever and a blotchy red rash. They may be accompanied by feeling sick, diarrhoea, swollen glands, headache, tiredness and general aches and pains. They can last up to three weeks and are often just thought of as a mild viral illness or the flu. This stage is known as the primary infection with HIV.

The symptoms of any primary infection may settle without any treatment and you can remain without any symptoms for several years – up to 10 years. Many people do not realise that they are infected as the virus continues to multiply resulting in a gradual fall of the number of CD4 T cells. During this time, suffers may develop persistent night sweats (swollen lymph glands).

As the HIV infection advances with time, other problems start popping up: repeated infections such as mouth ulcers, herpes and/or shingles, seborrhoeic dermatitis (a skin condition caused by a yeast infection), old tuberculosis (TB) infection, diarrhoea, skin rashes, tiredness and loss of weight. If left untreated, these symptoms may clear without treatment and infected persons keep on shedding and transmitting the infection.

That’s seriously scary. Am I at risk?

Generally sexually active people are at risk of contracting any kind of STI, including HIV. You are at a higher risk of contracting HIV if you have multiple sexual partners and/or engage in unprotected sex. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are also at risk since HIV can spread through oral and anal sex. You are at a higher risk of contracting HIV if you inject drugs, have HIV infection or are on immunosuppressive therapy.

Shit. I think I may have HIV. What do I do now? Can I do anything treat it?

The first thing you do is see your doctor and have an honest and open talk with them. Tell them your concerns and ask whether you should be tested for HIV or other STDs. This may include telling them your sexual activities history so that they can form an accurate assessment. Don’t be embarrassed; they are there to help you. Besides, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

These days, most sexual health clinics offer a rapid blood test for HIV and can give results within thirty minutes. Even if this is not available, the results are usually available within a week. The advancement of modern medicine means these days the tests will pick up the infection a month after first being infected (as opposed to three months with the older tests).

If you are tested positive for HIV, you will need to do a further test to determine the viral load (the amount of virus in your blood and the number of CD4 T cells in your blood. These tests are often done periodically to assess the progress of the infection and the response to treatment.

There is currently still no cure for HIV.

Wait wait wait. What? There is no cure?

Yes, the cure for HIV is yet to be discovered. The aim of HIV treatment is to allow people infected with HIV to live their lives as normally as they possibly can and to avoid, or at least delay, the onset of AIDS. This is often done through the administration of antiretroviral medicines, which reduce the rate of replication of the virus in the body. The most effective treatment usually comprises taking three or more antiretroviral medicines at the same time to attack HIV at different points in its cycle of replication, as it is more effective than one or two medicines alone. This also minimises, or at least reduces, the risk that the virus will become resistant to any individual medicine. The three different medicines were combined into a single pill and the first one pill a day treatment was launched in 2008. This treatment remains the popular choice as it is convenient to take and has few side effects (common ones include nausea, vomiting and headaches. You are likely to have regular blood tests to monitor the viral load and for side effects whilst taking treatment. Your doctor should advise the most appropriate treatment and the timing of treatment for you.

It is vitally important to take the medication regularly and exactly as prescribed to maintain success and to help prevent the virus from becoming resistant to the medicines. It is common for people with HIV to feel down and depressed after the diagnosis is made, if this is you, you need to speak to your doctor about this.

If you have a current HIV infection you should avoid having sex with anyone. You should not donate blood, semen or carry a donor card, not share razor or injecting equipment or any other equipment that may be contaminated by blood. If you have a cut or wound, you must cover them with a dressing. If your blood spills onto the floor or other surfaces, it must be cleaned away with bleach.

I am depressed just reading this. This is too hard. Can I just pretend it never happened?

Left untreated for many years, suffers of HIV infection will progress into AIDS. This usually happens within 5-10 years, but it can be shorter. One you’ve contracted AIDS, your immune system is weakened so severely that you are prone to a lot of diseases that are otherwise treatable on people without AIDS. The number one life threatening infection affecting people living with HIV is tuberculosis.

Do I have to tell my partner?

Yes, absolutely. Your sexual partner should be tested even if they do not have symptoms. If they are not treated, they risk passing the infection back to you and possibly spreading it to others.

Should I just like, you know, stop having sex altogether? But that’s not possible! Can my partner at least be protected?

If you are infected with HIV, you need to abstain from sexual activities. This is the most effective way to limit your HIV transmission. We always say that abstinence is the best protection!

There is currently no vaccine to prevent HIV infection. This is because the development of one is proving to be very difficult as the HIV virus is constantly mutating and changing.

But if you must have sex, then you must always use protection. Or you can do non-penetrative sex. Male circumcision reduces the risk of female-to-male sexual transmission of HIV by around 60%.

If you are a male and your partner, a female, has HIV, a one-time intervention, medical male circumcision may provide life-long partial protection against HIV as well as other sexually transmitted infections. This is a part of a comprehensive HIV prevention package and is not a replacement of other known methods of prevention, such as female and male condoms.

If you suspect that you have HIV or any other STI / STD, you must immediately contact us on ARYS Health by calling 02-81882299 or sms (0413 163 360) or book online. Our sexual health clinic practitioners have over 30 years experience and operate on a confidential basis.

What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), an infectious disease caused by a germ (bacterium) called Treponema pallidum. Syphilis is less common than chlamydia and gonorrhoea in Australia, but much more common in developing parts of the world.

How do I catch Syphilis?

As syphilis is a bacterial infection, most people with syphilis get the infection by coming into contact with a syphilis sore/ulcer – depending on where these ulcers are, you can contract syphilis by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person.

The good news? You need to have very intimate and direct contact with an infected person. You are unlikely to catch syphilis through sharing clothing, cutlery, touching door knobs, toilet seats etc.

How do I know I contracted Syphilis? Tell me, what symptoms should I look for?

Syphilis usually starts with a painless ulcer on your genitals. Left untreated, syphilis infection can spread to other parts of your body, including your heart and brain, causing detrimental consequences. Syphilis can also be passed from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby.

If left untreated, syphilis infection typically follows the pattern of four stages:

  • Primary syphilis – typically, one small ulcer develops where the syphilis bacteria enter your body. The ulcer is usually painless, about the size of a small coin, with clear fluid oozing from it. The ulcer usually appears about 2-3 weeks after having sex with an infected person, but may appear anytime up to 3 months later. The ulcer lasts up to 6 weeks, then heals – but it does not mean the infection has gone. The ulcer can be in your genitals, rectum, mouth or cervix in women. When you have a syphilis ulcer, the nearby glands (lymph nodes) in your groin may swell and feels like you have small lumps at the top of your legs in the groin crease.
  • Secondary syphilis – this stage occurs when the primary ulcer is untreated (or unnoticed) resulting in the spread of the bacteria to many parts of the body. Symptoms of secondary syphilis vary from person to person and may include: rash (dark, penny-sized patches that appear on the skin, usually on the palm of the bands or the soles of the feet), wart-like growths that may develop around the penis in men, or vagina in women (Condylomata lata), a general feeling of unwellness (malaise) and tiredness (lethargy), mild fever, headaches, sore throats, joint pains and swollen lymph nodes. Left untreated, the symptoms usually last for several weeks, but may persist for up to 2 years.
  • Latent syphilis – this is the period after which the symptoms of secondary syphilis have cleared. You are still infectious within the first year of latent syphilis as the infection have not been cleared, even when there is no further development and you are not experiencing any symptoms. Without treatment, over time, the syphilis bacteria will slowly but surely damage various parts of your body and symptoms of the final (tertiary) stage may eventually appear.
  • Final-stage (tertiary) syphilis – this is the final manifestation of the infection and can occur up to 50 years later. At this stage of the infection, syphilis is not considered infectious, but can be life threatening and can make you extremely unwell. Tertiary syphilis can cause complications on the brain (neurosyphilis), cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels), gummatous disease (tumours caused by inflammation)

That’s scary.

Wait, there’s more.

In addition to the above four stages, there’s a form of syphilis infection called neurosyphilis that can occur at any stage of syphilis infection. Neurosyphilis occurs when the syphilis infection affects the central nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and their coverings. Neurosyphilis generally manifests in a slow and gradual loss of mental and physical function, with alterations in mood and personality. On average it occurs between one and ten years after the initial infection. About 30% of people with syphilis infection develop neurosyphilis, and this percentage increases for those with HIV infection.

If you are pregnant and you have a syphilis infection, you risk passing the infection to your unborn baby via the placenta. This can result in the death of your unborn baby (miscarriage, stillbirth etc) or the transmission of the syphilis infection to the baby (or the child). If a baby (or child) is infected with syphilis, they usually show early symptoms of untreated congential syphilis before the age of 2, including rashes (a peeling rash of the palms, soles of the feet, around the mouth and anus), an enlarged liver and/or spleen, abnormal bone X-rays, anaemia, enlarged glands (lymph nodes) and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. In rare cases, the baby (or the child) displays late congenital syphilis, with symptoms similar to neurosyphilis in an adult, with problems affecting the eyes and joints, as well as deafness, gummas and dental abnormalities.

*gulp. Am I at risk? How it is diagnosed?

Syphilis is often difficult to diagnose because it mimics many other illnesses. There are specific tests for syphilis, so as long as you suspect that there’s a possibility that you contract syphilis, it can be easily diagnosed with a test or two:

  • Swabbing a small sample from the suspected sore to examine the typical germs (bacteria) that are present; or
  • If the sore/ulcer has gone, an antibody blood test can detect if you have syphilis. The aim of this test is to look for antibodies that fight the syphilis infection. The result of the antibody test can be positive or negative. A positive result means you have syphilis or have had syphilis in the past. A negative result does not always mean you are free from syphilis. It might mean the test has been carried out too early as it usually takes a while for the antibodies to be present in the blood. To be safe, you need to come back for a repeat test in 3 months’ time.

If you are pregnant, worry not – all pregnant women are screened for syphilis as part of the routine antenatal blood tests that are usually done between 8 and 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Is there a treatment for this? Is there anything I can do?

The first thing you do is see your doctor and tell them your concerns. As syphilis is caused by a bacteria, it is generally easily treated in its early stages, with a course (or single dose) of an antibiotic medicine, usually in the form of injections. A single dose can be given for primary and secondary syphilis. Later stages may need a course of three injections, at weekly intervals. Neurosyphilis usually requires more frequent, daily doses for a couple of weeks.

Treatment during the early stages (primary and/or secondary) will usually prevent any permanent long-term damage. Unfortunately, some of the problems associated with the final stage (tertiary syphilis) cannot be completely cured with antibiotics. However, it is still advisable to continue with antibiotic treatment as it may prevent further worsening of some your conditions. Despite treatment, cardiovascular complications may still worsen. It is therefore imperative that you get tested and treated early.

You must avoid having sex until the syphilis sores are completely healed and a test confirms that the syphilis infection has gone. You must remember that syphilis is caught by close skin-to-skin contact with the oozing fluid from the ulcer, so it is not just penetration and ejaculation that lead to the spread of syphilis.

Gulp. This is scary. Should I just like, you know, stop having sex altogether? But that’s not possible! How I can prevent it? What about my partner? Can my partner at least be protected?

If you are infected with syphilis, you need to abstain from sexual activities. This is the most effective way to limit your syphilis transmission. We always say that abstinence is the best protection!

It is important to tell your current sexual partner(s) so that they can also be tested for syphilis and other STIs and receive treatment where necessary.

Practising safe sex by using a condom reduces your risk of catching syphilis (and other STIs). However, bear in mind that using condoms does not provide complete protection, as syphilis ulcers can sometimes be on areas not covered by a condom.

If you have had syphilis and had it treated, you can still be re-infected if you have sex with an infected person as the antibodies in your blood are not sufficient to protect you from another infection if you come into contact with syphilis again.

If you have caught syphilis, there is a good chance that you may also have another STI.  At Arys Health centre clinic, we will take small samples (swabs) and blood tests to exclude other STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and HIV. We can also put you in touch with services that can organise contact tracing. This means informing your previous sexual partners (confidentially and anonymously) that they need testing for STIs, including syphilis. This is especially important if you are unable or unwilling to do this yourself.

If you suspect you have syphilis, you are advised to immediately book a consultation by contacting us on Arys Health by ringing 02-81882299 or sms 0413163360 or book online. It is important that your treatment starts as early as possible and that your infection is investigated, treated and followed up by our team of sexual health professionals who operate on a confidential basis.

What is hepatitis B?

The term ‘hepatitis’ means inflammation of the liver and is generally caused by several different viruses. As the name implied, hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus. Once the hepatitis B virus enters your blood stream, it travels to your liver, the main site of hepatitis B virus multiplication. The multiplication of this virus triggers a response from the body’s immune system.

There are two stages of hepatitis B infection: the first stage occurs within the first 6 months and is considered to be ’acute‘. The second occurs if hepatitis B virus tests are positive more than 6 months after infection, where a person is considered to have ’chronic‘ hepatitis B, which can last a lifetime. Once suffers reach this chronic stage, they must be diagnosed and receive appropriate monitoring and treatment, otherwise they are in danger of dying from cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure or liver cancer.

How do I contract hepatitis B?

Hepatitis in general can be caused by excessive consumption of alcohol, drugs and chemical. As hepatitis B is a viral infection, most people with hepatitis B get the infection by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person – blood and other bodily fluids, such as semen and vaginal secretions, contain the virus in infected people. Hepatitis B infection is considered acute in the first six months after contraction, and most infected people often do not realise that they are infected and can pass on the virus during sexual encounters. This is because the symptoms are often generalised, i.e. not specific to hepatitis B infection. About 30% of people living with chronic hepatitis B in Australia have not been diagnosed.

As the hepatitis B virus is spread through infected blood, any contact through a cut or wound in your body would allow the virus to enter your blood stream. This can happen through getting a bite from an infected person, or when their blood spills onto your eyes, mouth or open skin. Hepatitis B virus is also spread through transfusion of infected blood, sharing infected needles and/or any injecting equipment, including those used for dental work, tattooing, medical procedures, body piercing or even needle stick accidents. It is also possible to contract the hepatitis B virus through sharing toothbrushes, razors and other such items that may be contaminated with blood. The virus can actually live outside the body for more than one week.

The good news? The virus is not passed on through ordinary social contact including hugging, kissing or from sharing cups or cutlery as long as these activities do not involve contact with blood.

How do I know I contracted it? What symptoms should I look for?

The first time you contracted the hepatitis B virus, you may develop symptoms of acute hepatitis B, which include fever, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pains and feeling generally unwell.  You may become jaundiced (look yellow) due to a build-up of the chemical bilirubin that is made in the liver and spills into the blood in some liver conditions. Accompanying jaundice due to hepatitis is dark urine (darker than usual) and pale stools/faeces (paler than usual). These symptoms usually clear after a few weeks as your immune system either fights the virus or brings it under control. But in about half of cases, acute hepatitis B infection results in no symptoms, or only mild flu-like symptom. This is why a lot of people are not aware that they have been infected with hepatitis B. This is usually the case with new born babies who are infected with hepatitis B from their mothers during childbirth usually have no initial symptoms.

Once the virus is cleared by the body’s immune system within 3-6 months, you cease being infectious and are immune to further infection. This happens in 90% of cases. In the remaining 10% of the case, the virus advances into a chronic phase as the virus remains in the body for longer than 6 months. This may occur regardless of whether you experience symptoms during the acute phase. This commonly occurs with infected newborn babies (who contracted the infection from their mothers) where the virus remains in their system usually for life. The chance of full recovery only exists for adults who became infected with hepatitis B, not babies.

Once your infection has advanced to the chronic state, it is possible for you to remain well. This happens in 67% of cases. Your body still hosts the virus but suffers no damage to your liver and/or other organs. In other words, you are just a carrier (chronic inactive hepatitis B). Most carriers don’t know that they are carriers and can still pass on the virus to others. About 20% of carriers eventually clear the virus from their body naturally, but this often takes several years. The rest of the 80% of carriers are carriers for life.

Some suffers of chronic hepatitis B are not so lucky. They develop persistent liver inflammation.  They may experience symptoms of varying severity including muscle aches, tiredness, feeling sick, lack of appetite, intolerance of alcohol, pains over the liver, jaundice and depression – or they may not experience any symptoms at all. But either way, they suffer from chronic active hepatitis B.

Left untreated for many years, suffers of chronic active hepatitis B develop cirrhosis – a scarring of the liver, which may further develop into liver failure as it increases in severity.           After a further period of a time, a small number of people with cirrhosis then develop liver cancer.

That’s damn scary. Am I at risk?

Generally sexually active people are at risk of contracting any kind of STI, including hepatitis B. You are at a higher risk of contracting hepatitis B if you inject drugs, have HIV infection or are on immunosuppressive therapy. You are also at risk if you are un-vaccinated and have parents from regions of the world with high rates of chronic hepatitis B.

Shit. I think I have a high risk of contracting hepatitis B. What do I do now? Can I do anything?

OK, don’t panic. If you are not immunised and think you’ve been exposed to the virus, go to your doctor immediately. Learning if you are infected is the key to early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. The best way to determine whether you have hepatitis B is to test for it. A simple blood test can detect a protein on the surface of the virus called hepatitis B surface antigen, aka HbsAg. In addition, your doctor may give you an injection of antibodies called immunoglobulin as well as starting a course of immunisation, which may prevent infection from developing. Yes, hepatitis B can be prevented through vaccination. For adults, the hepatitis B vaccine is given as a series of 3 shots over a period of 6 months. The entire series is needed for long-term protection, and booster doses are not currently recommended.

If you test positive for HBsAg, you are deemed to be infected with hepatitis B. You will need to have other tests to check on the severity of infection, liver inflammation and damage to the liver. This includes: a blood test to assess how active the virus is as if it is multiplying rapidly it is more likely to cause liver damage, a blood test to assess the level of inflammation of the liver and how well it is working, an ultrasound scan of the liver and a biopsy to show the extent of any inflammation and scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and other specialised blood tests being developed which assess the development and severity of cirrhosis.

My test result is positive. Oh shit.

Relax; it is not a death sentence. If you got hepatitis B, then treatment for acute phase is usually not to clear the virus from your body, but to ease the symptoms until the infection clears completely. Remember 90% of cases usually recover from acute hepatitis B naturally.

There is unfortunately no treatment that can prevent acute hepatitis B from advancing to chronic hepatitis B. Once your infection has advanced to the chronic stage, treatment works to delay and/or prevent further complications from developing by limiting the activities of the virus.

Treatment with medicines is usually continued for many years. There are currently two types of treatment:  the interferon treatment, which is a medicine similar to the substance produced naturally in your body, which is also called interferon. It is basically an immune system booster and subsequently allows your body to fight infections. It works to fight infections by boosting your immune system. This treatment is usually given as an injection every week. The other type of treatment involves antiviral medicines, sometimes used in combination. As the name suggests, these work by stopping multiplication of the hepatitis B virus in the body. Your doctor will recommend which treatment is most suitable for you and monitor your progress through regular blood tests.

These medicines often have side effects, which may necessitate a change in medicines for some people by taking a lower dosage/strength. It is also possible for some people to develop resistance to their treatment medicine, which also necessitate a change in treatment.  For those with cirrhosis (advanced ‘scarring’ of the liver), liver transplantation may be an option as the outlook following a liver transplant can be very good.  However, it is still possible for the new liver to eventually become damaged by the persisting (chronic) hepatitis B infection.

The treatment of hepatitis B is a developing area of medicine. New medicines continue to be developed and the information above is very general. Your doctor should be able to provide more accurate information about the outlook for your particular situation.

If you have a current hepatitis B infection you should avoid having sex with anyone until they have been fully immunised and tested to see that the immunisation has worked. You should not donate blood, semen or carry a donor card, not share razor or injecting equipment or any other equipment that may be contaminated by blood. If you have a cut or wound, you must cover them with a dressing, and if your blood spills onto the floor or other surfaces, it must be cleaned away with bleach. You are also advised to eat a normal, healthy and balanced diet. Ideally, anybody with inflammation of the liver should not drink alcohol as it increases the risk and speed of cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) development.

Do I have to tell my partner?

Yes, absolutely. Your sexual partner should be tested and treated even if they do not have symptoms. If they are not treated, they risk passing the infection back to you and to others. If uninfected, they can be vaccinated to protect them from contracting hepatitis B.

Should I just like you know stop having sex altogether? But that’s not possible!

If you are infected with hepatitis B and your partner is undergoing the immunisation program for hepatitis B, you need to abstain from all kinds of sexual activities. But if you must have sex, then you must always use protection during sexual encounters.

Ideally, you don’t have any kind of sex to avoid hepatitis B or any kind of STI. We always say that abstinence is the best protection!

If you suspect that you have Hepatitis B or any other STI / STD, you must immediately contact us on ARYS Health by calling 02-81882299 or sms 0413163360 or book online. Our sexual health clinic practitioners have over 30 years experience and operate on a confidential basis.

What is hepatitis C?

The term ‘hepatitis’ means inflammation of the liver and is generally caused by several different viruses. While hepatitis B is caused the hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C is caused by he hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C virus was first discovered in 1980s and is considered a relatively new disease, which really means some aspects of it are yet to be completely understood.

Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus; it travels through your bloodstream to the liver where it affects and damages your liver. HCV can also affect the digestive system, immune system and the brain. There are 6 known types of HCV (genotypes) numbered 1 to 6. Each of these types responds differently to treatment so they need to be identified before starting treatment. And it is possible to be infected with multiple types of HCV simultaneously.

How do I contract hepatitis C?

Hepatitis in general can be caused by excessive consumption of alcohol, drugs and chemical. Just like hepatitis B infection, hepatitis C is a viral infection. Most people with hepatitis C are exposed to the virus through infected blood, any contact through a cut or wound in your body would allow the virus to enter your blood stream. This can happen through getting a bite from an infected person, or when their blood spills onto your eyes, mouth or open skin. Hepatitis C virus is also spread through transfusion of infected blood, sharing infected needles and/or any injecting equipment, including those used for dental work, tattooing, medical procedures, body piercing or even needle stick accidents. It is also possible to contract the hepatitis C virus through sharing toothbrushes, razors and other such items that may be contaminated with blood. The virus can actually live outside the body for more than one week. There is also a chance of contracting HCV by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person – blood and other bodily fluids, such as semen and vaginal secretions, contain the virus in infected people.

The good news is that HCV is not passed on through ordinary social contact including hugging, kissing or from sharing cups or cutlery as long as these activities do not involve contact with blood. 

How do I know I contracted it? What symptoms should I look for?

Majority of people with HCV do not know they have it as they feel entirely well with very few symptoms, if any. There are two stages of hepatitis C infection: the first stage occurs within the first 6 months and is considered to be ’acute‘. The second occurs if hepatitis C virus tests are positive more than 6 months after infection, where a person is considered to have ’chronic‘ hepatitis C, which can last a lifetime. Once suffers reach this chronic stage, they must be diagnosed and receive appropriate monitoring and treatment, otherwise they are in danger of dying from cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure or liver cancer.

The first time you contracted the hepatitis C virus, you may develop symptoms of acute hepatitis C, which include fever, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pains and feeling generally unwell.  You may become jaundiced (look yellow) due to a build-up of the chemical bilirubin that is made in the liver and spills into the blood in some liver conditions. Accompanying jaundice due to hepatitis is dark urine (darker than usual) and pale stools/faeces (paler than usual). These symptoms usually clear after a few weeks as your immune system either fights the virus or brings it under control. But in about half of cases, acute hepatitis C infection results in no symptoms, or only mild flu-like symptom. This is why a lot of people are not aware that they have been infected with hepatitis C.

Once the virus is cleared by the body’s immune system within 3-6 months, you cease being infectious and are immune to further infection. If HCV stays in your system for longer, the virus advances into a chronic phase; this may occur regardless of whether you experience symptoms during the acute phase. The existence of symptoms is not indicative of the presence of the virus in your body.

That’s damn scary. Am I at risk?

Generally sexually active people are at risk of contracting any kind of STI, including hepatitis C. You are at a higher risk of contracting hepatitis C if you inject drugs, have HIV infection or are on immunosuppressive therapy.

Shit. I think I have a high risk of contracting hepatitis C. What do I do now? Can I do anything?

OK, don’t panic. If you think you’ve been exposed to the virus, you must see your doctor immediately. Learning if you are infected is the key to early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. The best way to determine whether you have hepatitis C is to test for it. A simple blood test can detect antibodies to HCV. A negative test result does not necessarily rule out a recently acquired infection as it can take up to 6 months for the antibody test to become positive after you’ve been exposed to HCV. If you are tested positive, it means you have been infected with HCV at some stage; that is, you may not currently have the virus as the antibodies remain even after the virus has gone. As such, you need to be tested further to see if the virus is still present (PCR test) and to determine which types of HCV you’ve been exposed to.

If you have a current hepatitis C infection you should avoid having sex with anyone. You should not donate blood, semen or carry a donor card, not share razor or injecting equipment or any other equipment that may be contaminated by blood. If you have a cut or wound, you must cover them with a dressing, and if your blood spills onto the floor or other surfaces, it must be cleaned away with bleach. You are also advised to eat a normal, healthy and balanced diet. Ideally, anybody with inflammation of the liver should not drink alcohol as it increases the risk and speed of cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) development.

My test result is positive. Oh shit.

Don’t panic. The damage caused by HCV is usually very gradual.  Your doctor should advise on when to start treatment. The main aim of treatment is to get rid of the HCV in your body to prevent severe liver damage that leads to cirrhosis. The treatment usually offered is a combination of pegylated interferon (which helps your body get rid of HCV) and ribavirin (which fights viruses). Pegylated interferon is usually given as one injection each week, while ribavirin is taken each day as a tablet or as a liquid. A course of treatment lasts 6-12 months, depending upon your type of hepatitis C.

This treatment will not work instantly; it takes about 12 weeks to tell if this treatment is working. You will usually have a blood test about 12 weeks after you start the medicines, to see if the amount of virus in your body has reduced. If so, then with the full course of treatment you have a good chance of completely clearing the virus from your body. This treatment can clear the virus (‘cure’) n almost half of those infected with genotype 1 but clears the virus in about 4 in 5 people infected with genotype 2 or 3. That is the outlook varies depending on the type of the virus.

The treatment has side effects including but not limited to tiredness, nausea, headaches, and depression. Your doctor will monitor your blood test results throughout the treatment for these side effects and recommend a change in treatment if you have troublesome side effects.

The treatment of hepatitis C has advanced in recent years, which is great news for people with hepatitis C. Other medicines for treatment of HCV include boceprevir and telaprevir (which prevent HCV from reproducing in the body), as well as sofosbuvir, simeprevir and daclatasvir. 

This is too hard. Can I just pretend it never happened?

Left untreated for many years, suffers of chronic hepatitis C develop cirrhosis – a scarring of the liver, which may further develop into liver failure as it increases in severity.          After a further period of a time, a small number of people with cirrhosis then develop liver cancer.

Do I have to tell my partner?

Yes, absolutely. Your sexual partner should be tested even if they do not have symptoms. If they are not treated, they risk passing the infection back to you and possibly spreading it to others.

Should I just like you know stop having sex altogether? But that’s not possible!

If you are infected with hepatitis C, you need to abstain from sexual activities. But if you must have sex, then you must always use protection.

Ideally, you don’t have any kind of sex to avoid hepatitis C or any kind of STI. We always say that abstinence is the best protection!

If you suspect that you have Hepatitis C or any other STI / STD, you must immediately contact us on ARYS Health by calling 02-81882299 or sms 0413163360 or book online. Our sexual health clinic practitioners have over 30 years experience and operate on a confidential basis.

  1. What causes Anogenital warts?

Anogenital warts are benign growth which look like lumps which develop in the genital or anal area.

  1. Cause of Anogenital warts

Anogenital are viral infection caused by a virus called Human Papillomavirus (HPV). There are different types most common are type 6 and 11. However, there are over 100 types which can cause genital warts.

  1. Do they appear anywhere else?

People can get them on their feet and hands, cause of which is the same virus but of different types.

  1. Are they contagious?

Anogenital warts are passed to others by skin contact. It is no necessary to have penetrative sex to the pass the infection. Sharing things like sex toys etc on some occasions warts may be passed on from hand warts. In rare situation it can be passed to baby while giving birth.

  1. How long it takes to develop a genital warts after contact?

It can take up to weeks and months after being infected with warts. People who infect with HPV may not develop wart. They can just be the carrier and shed the virus to others who can develop warts. It is also possible to pass the wart to your partner after warts being treated or gone.

  1. Can I do contact tracing?

Because it can take some time to develop warts after exposure to the virus, if you noticed a lump which looks like a Anogenital wart, it does not necessarily mean that either partner has been recently unfaithful. Either of the partner may have had HPV (virus) for a long time without developing them.

  1. Anal warts also spread through anal sex only?

You may get anal wart even if you have not had anal sex.

  1. Where do they develop?
  2. Outer skin of the penis
  3. Vulva – Just outside the vagina
  4. Anal Region (around back passage) both men and women
  5. Inside the vagina and also near the cervix (neck of the womb)
  6. Scrotal area in males
  7. Sometimes it develop around the urethra
  8. How can I identify a wart?
  9. Warts can join together to form on large warty area
  10. They may look small skin colour lumps
  11. They can be firm lesion appearing red, pink, grey or white in colour.
  • Are there any symptoms?

Mostly warts do not have symptoms. Sometimes they care cause irritation. Anal warts can be painful and can bleed.

  • How do you confirm it, are there any test available?
  1. Genital warts have typical clinical appearance when you are examined by one of our doctors at ARYS Health. Sometimes it is necessary to do vaginal and anal examination to rule out any warts in the vaginal or anal region.

Patient who have warts are also advised to do sexual health check to rule out STI’s as required.

  1. If you suspect that you have Anogenital warts or STI your best option is to visit ARYS Health Medical Centre located at 280 Pitt Street in Sydney CBD near Town Hall station.

We will diagnose a wart by clinical examination. If the diagnosis is unclear we may need to take histopathological examination by biopsy or simply removing with RF/Laser and send it for the testing under the microscope.

  1. What are my treatment options?

There are different treatment options. Some treatments cure is faster and other it can take up to weeks or up to six months

Treatment can be a bit unfordable. It is advised to stop smoking if you are a smoke to speed up the healing process.

  1. Chemical Treatment
  2. Podophyllotoxin: It comes in cream of lotion. It is a prescription medication and applied for three days in a week. Treatment can be repeated. Your for need four to five treatments before it work
  3. Imiquimod Cream: It is applied three time a week at bed time and then wash it off after 6-10 hours. It can take up to 16 weeks to work.
  4. Other Treatments:
  5. Cryotherapy meaning freezing the wart with the liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen is cold and can be uncomfortable. It may need several weeks of treatment. Each treatment is one week apart.
  6. Surgical removal, sometimes it is recommended to remove wart by surgical excision by using local anaesthetic.
  7. RF/Laser removal, Laser removal is the treatment where waves hit the water component of the wart cell and destroy them immediately leaving the skin behind.
  • Which treatment is the best?

Surgical or RF/Laser treatment is the best as the results re immediate. However warts can come back again.

Why should you visit us?
Because we can take care of you.

How?

1. We offer STI/HIV testing as part of our regular consultation
2. We conduct a risk assessment (that is, we document your sexual history)
3. We conduct contact tracing (that is, we trace those who've been in contact with you)
4. We conduct routine STI/HIV Testing
5. We have access to all sorts of available resources to offer additional support for you

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