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Blanche Heriot Unit - in gay surrey

This page is supported and sponsored by

Dr Pritchard, The Blanche Heriot Unit
 

HIV is now a global problem and increasingly wide spread such that all sorts of people may become infected. Although the concept of risk groups is obviously very important so far as encouraging people to test goes all clinics now invite all new attendees to do so. Since treatment has now dramatically changed the outcome for those who become infected there are many advantages for discovering early if a person is positive. Then treatment, when it is needed, can be introduced in an easier way and long before symptoms occur. There are also advantages in preventing the infection being transferred to any partner. Knowledge brings responsibilities but they are very important.

 

So what happens if a gay man decides he will attend a GUM clinic and ask about HIV? Firstly it is important to know that he will be offered tests but it is for him to decide if he wishes to proceed there and then or maybe think about it and return at a later date. Staff in GUM clinics are very aware we are working with you and are not there to make your decisions or force you into a situation for which you are not prepared. There are a number of people in the clinic and you may be seen by any or all of them: receptionists, doctors, nurses, health advisers, voluntary agency such as THT. Everyone is there to help you. Each clinic has its own way of working but they are broadly similar. All have leaflets with lots of information about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and you will be welcome to as much information as you like. In some clinics the leaflets are very visible as are posters, in other clinics they may be more hidden and given to you as required.

 
Some clinics have only appointments sessions which means that you must telephone in advance. Others have appointments but also free access sessions although you may still be advised to telephone to check availability. Sometimes these clinics are curtailed, for example if there is a staff shortage, and it might save you a wasted visit. If you only want to discuss a blood test for HIV then you may be able to book to see a health adviser - it is worth enquiring.
 

When you attend you will be asked to give a sexual history which means you will be asked about when you last had sex, what you did and some information about the partner, for example the gender, country of origin. You will be offered tests depending on the assessed risks and these may include swabs and a blood test. Different clinics have different arrangements and timescale's for obtaining results and this will be explained to you. For example you may be invited to telephone in a day or two for the HIV result or you may choose to have a text message which will deliver a very bland message such as 'you do not need to contact us' or 'please telephone for more information'. If an infection is found many are completely curable and something can be done about them all.

 

Part of the consultation may involve advice about reducing risk. We are all very anxious to pr event people becoming infected with anything so we are anxious that you understand how to keep yourself safe. This becomes increasingly important the more people are infected because it increases the chances of finding an infected person to be your sexual partner. You will receive advice about safer sex and the use of condoms.

 

You may think it all sounds a bit unpleasant but we are keen to make the service as user friendly as possible in all the clinics. After all we want to promote the idea of a regular check up for anyone who may be at risk and that means anyone who has sex with a partner of unknown health (infection) status. It only takes one risk to lead to infection and it is better to deal with risk responsibly.

Play safe but if you take any risk get checked.

 

Contact Details

Dr. Pritchard
Blanche Heriot Unit
St Peter's Hospital
Chertsey
Surrey

Appointments: 01932 722669
Advice line: 01932 722390

Monday 10am - 2.30pm
Thursday 2.30pm - 6pm
Friday 10am - 12.30pm

 
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