Sexual health means more than being free from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or avoiding an unplanned pregnancy.
It means having the confidence and skills to ask for the sex that makes you feel good. It also means respecting your partners and taking responsibility for their sexual health as well as your own.
Some people have STIs that cannot be cured (such as HIV) or that they live with long term (such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C).
People can still have healthy, happy sex lives and good sexual health if these infections have been diagnosed and are being treated and the sex they have is protected.
Where to go for sexual health advice
Good sexual health depends on regular check-ups and practicing protected sex.
Check-ups will make sure any STIs are quickly diagnosed and treated. Most people get checked at Skin and Venereal Diseases Hospital in Thessaloniki and A. Syngros Hospital in Athens. It’s a free of charge and confidential service of NHS (National Health system) Greece and staff should be friendly and non-judgemental.
For further advice on sexual health and STI prevention as well as Harm Reduction, you can visit Checkpoint in Athens and Thessaloniki. Apart from providing free, fast, and confidential testing for HIV and Hepatitis, you can also talk to our counsellors about a wide range of things to do with sex and relationships.
How often should you get tested?
How often you should be checked depends on how many people you have sex with.
If you don’t have a regular partner and you have casual sex you should go at least once every six months.
If you have lots of sexual partners have a check-up at least every three months.
If you get any symptoms that may be an STI (eg, sores, inflammation or discharge), go to a clinic straight away and don’t have sex until given the all-clear.
Before having sex at the start of a new relationship, have a check-up, especially if you’re thinking about not using condoms (then HIV tests are strongly recommended). A sexual health screen should also include an HIV test.
If you have HIV it’s important to find out whether your viral load is undetectable (and be taking effective treatment) before considering stopping using condoms. Remember that having sex without a condom can lead to other STIs being passed on.
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a course of tablets taken before and after sex that protects against HIV. Consider it if you think it might be for you.