STIs and The Importance of Getting Tested — “Frisky Wales” Test & Post Service

Over 1 million STIs are contracted every day across the world.

Getting tested is something that isn’t discussed openly enough — it’s such an important thing for everyone who is sexually active and there’s no shame in talking about it or asking questions.

Being on some form of contraception alone isn’t protection against sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs). Condoms or barrier vaginal dams are the only thing that protect against contracting STIs.

Frisky Wales is a service setup by Public Health Wales to provide people with STI testing kits delivered to your home. This was especially beneficial during the height of the pandemic when walk-in services weren’t as easily accessible to the public.

If you are a survivor of sexual violence, you may not feel comfortable going to clinic or GP to get tested. However, testing is an important part of after-care and recovery that ideally is done within 2 weeks of a traumatic event. Frisky Wales service allows you to do this in the privacy and comfort of your own home.

If the test results come back negative — you receive a text message, if it’s positive then you’ll get a phone call to arrange treatment.

Prior to the pandemic, between 25 and 35 people per session were accessing the walk-in sexual health clinics at Dewi Sant Hospital as well as their community outreach clinics — with most sexual health clinics offering up to three sessions per day.

This type of service has been available in England for a few years but has been trialled in Wales during the pandemic.

Zoë Couzens, who leads the Sexual Health Programme for Public Health Wales said, “We need to be able to treat sexual health as part of normal health overall so it needs to be discussed early. If young people are taught about relationships from a young age then as they develop so can the discussion. Parents/carers need to be a significant part of this as well as educational settings”

Zoë explained that the way to improve sexual health awareness is to normalise it. She said, “It needs to be ok to talk about all aspects of sexual health in order for people to be aware of how much it impacts everyone and how important it really is. Use all forms of media so information is as accessible as possible.”

She went on to discuss how important it is to explain sexual health awareness in terms that are understood and through a variety of different mediums so that all people are able to understand

Other services in Cardiff for young people and students include SHAG (Sexual Health Awareness Group) which is led by a group of Cardiff University students. The group provides sexual health advice via social media and talks along with signposting to help students find the service they require. As well as this, they also provide condoms for free in the Cardiff Students Union to promote safe sex.

The C-Card Scheme is also aimed at young people, being available to the 25 and unders. The scheme aims to provide confidential sexual health advice and free condoms across Wales. More information about the C-Card Scheme can be found on their website.

Testing isn’t just the only way to know for sure if you do/don’t have an STI but it’s also a way to give you piece of mind.

Remember: if you’re sexually active — GET TESTED.