What is STIQ Day?
STIQ Day is a day centered around sexual health and getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Sex is often considered a taboo subject for a host of different reasons, however, it is hugely important to get tested if you’re sexually active due to the fact that doing so can mean we break the transmission chain.
Sex isn’t something to feel shameful about, and STIQ day helps to promote the message that getting tested isn’t either. It is on the 14th January as some STIs take 2 weeks to be detectable, and this date is beneficial as it means you can get tested after any sexual activity over the festive period, and can find out if you’re in the clear in time for Valentine’s Day.
How can I get information on being tested in Reading?
Getting tested is free! The closest sexual health centre to the university is the Florey Clinic. Due to COVID, they cannot do drop-in appointments currently, however they are available on the phone Monday-Friday, 9-5pm, and you can book appointments with them.
Phone: 0118 322 7202 (Florey unit)
Beyond this, many people don’t realise that it’s possible to get tested by your GP, which can feel more comfortable as no one will know why you’re there, and it may be more comfortable if you already know your GP.
You can also go to your local pharmacy and ask to speak to a pharmacist in a private room if you’re unsure of how to proceed with getting tested, or would like to discuss any concerns about symptoms that you may worry are not severe enough to warrant the attention of a doctor. You can even search for sexual health information and support services near you on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/Sexual-health-information-and-support/LocationSearch/734
Beyond this, the NHS offers a range of links to services that could support you:
- British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) – provides advice and support about contraception, abortion and sexual health; call the helpline on 03457 30 40 30, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Brook – the young people’s sexual health charity for under-25s provides advice, support and information about your nearest sexual health clinic
- FPA – provides information about individual methods of contraception, STIs, pregnancy choices, abortion and planning a pregnancy
- Switchboard: the LGBT+ helpline – provides an information, support and referral service for lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans (transgender, transsexual, transvestite) people; call the helpline on 0300 330 0630, open 10am to 11pm daily
- Terrence Higgins Trust – provides information, support and advice about HIV and sexual health; call the helpline on 0808 802 1221, open 10am to 8pm Monday to Friday
How can I get tested?
Despite the fact that the Florey Clinic isn’t currently available for drop in services, you can order a test from them online at this link: https://www.eformsplus.berkshire.nhs.uk/rbh_orderstikit
These are also available https://sh24.org.uk/orders/new from Sexual Health 24/7, which is regulated by organisations such as the NHS
Many people can find getting tested invasive, and it may feel better to do so yourself so you’re in control. The NHS offers this article on the safe use of self-tests: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-use-self-test-kits-safely/
Beyond this, for many people, this topic and the process of getting tested can evoke emotional responses or can trigger previous trauma. This is a valid and normal response to these things, and you should never feel alone in experiencing these thoughts and emotions. There are countless services that can offer you a safe place to discuss how you’re feeling, and a number of these are listed below:
Counselling and wellbeing service at the university: https://www.reading.ac.uk/essentials/Support-And-Wellbeing/Counselling-and-wellbeing
Samaritans or call on 116 123
Support after sexual trauma: Support for Victims of Crime in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire · Victims First – supporting victims across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire (victims-first.org.uk)
To see what therapy is available from the NHS in the area: NHS Berkshire Talking Therapies