020 7791 2855 talktome@positiveeast.org.uk 159 Mile End Road, London E1 4AQ

HC Community

City & Hackney Sexual Health Resource Hub

 Positive East’s Community programme for City & Hackney residents aims to empower ethnic minority communities aged 16+ to take control of their sexual health and wellbeing.

Below you’ll find information about the different ways you can prevent HIV & STIs, preventing unwanted pregnancy and how to access free sexual health services in the borough, including condoms, contraception, and PrEP.

For more information about the Community programme please contact Euriza at euriza.mata@positiveeast.org.uk

Different ways you can prevent HIV

Testing for HIV and STIs

It only takes a finger-prick to know your HIV status and it’s free regardless of your immigration status or how long you’ve lived in the UK. If you test in-person with Positive East you’ll get your HIV result in the session.

Your HIV status won’t be shared with other healthcare agencies unless you ask for them to do so or you share your status yourself.

Testing for STIs requires a small blood sample for syphilis and hepatitis B and C, and swabs (anal, oral and/or vaginal) or a urine sample for gonorrhoea and chlamydia. You’ll usually get your results for these within a week.

At Positive East our friendly and professional Testing and Prevention Team deliver in-person HIV & STI testing at community venues across East London including our building in Stepney Green, libraries, bars, pharmacies and sex-on-premises venues. We also offer assisted testing through Zoom and Microsoft Teams by posting out test kits and guiding you on how to accurately take a sample and read the results. Visit www.positiveeast.org.uk/hivtest to book your test with Positive East.

Other ways to test for HIV & STIs

  • if you live in Hackney and you’re over 16, and have no or mild STI symptoms, you can order a free kit to easily test yourself for STIs in the privacy of your own home through Sexual Health London. There is no referral process
  • if you are aged between 16-24 years old and live in Hackney you can order a free home chlamydia test through Checkurself. If you have chlamydia symptoms, or have received a positive result, then you need treatment. Find out how to access treatment
  • Hackney residents who may be at-risk of having contracted Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or HIV, can take a free, confidential test at a local GP surgery, or at Homerton Hospital

Condoms and Lube

Condoms are the best form of protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Condoms come in a range of sizes, textures, materials and flavours. It is important that you’re able to find the right fit and feel for you and your partner(s). Exploring what feels right for you and your partner(s) should be fun and enjoyable.

Before using a condom make sure it has a CE mark and that it has not passed its expiry date. If you are using sex toys do not forget to cover them with a condom and wash the toys after each use. If the condom comes off, open a new condom and put it on before continuing sex. Change condoms between partners and regularly replace them during longer sex sessions.

Lube makes sex smoother, more pleasurable and reduces the chance of a condom breaking. When using lube, stick to a silicone or water-based lube. Silicone-based lube will not damage condoms but may damage silicone sex toys. Avoid oil-based lubes like Vaseline, baby oil and lotions. They damage latex condoms.

A list of outlets providing free condoms to under-25s can be accessed on the Young Hackney website. Free condoms for 25+ in higher-risk groups can be accessed from the pharmacies listed on this page.

PrEP

PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) is medication taken by HIV-negative people before and after sex to reduce the risk of getting HIV. PrEP only protects you from HIV and does not protect you from any other STIs.

PrEP was recently made available on the NHS through local sexual health (GUM) clinics. You can find a list of clinics offering PrEP in England here. Positive East can also support you with accessing PrEP, by contacting clinics on your behalf.

Before starting PrEP you will need to:

  • Test for HIV to ensure you are HIV negative
  • Have a kidney function blood test – note that the PrEP available on the NHS is not suitable for those with kidney function issues

These tests may be repeated after you have been taking PrEP for 6 weeks.

There are different ways to take PrEP depending on the sex you are having and how regularly you are having unprotected sex:

  • Some people take one pill PrEP daily.
    • If you’re having receptive vaginal sex, you’ll need to take one pill every day, 7 days before, and 7 days after sex.
  • For anal sex you might try the T’s and S’s method which is is when someone takes PrEP on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday
  • For anal sex you can also take ‘event-based’ PrEP – take 2 pills between 2 to 24 hours before sex, 1 pill 24 hours after the first double dose then a final pill 48 hours after that first double dose.

U=U

HIV treatment and medication has improved vastly since the 80s when HIV was first discovered. There is still no cure for HIV, but we know all the tools and resources to ensure that people living with HIV in the UK have healthy and fulfilling lives in the same way that HIV negative people can. HIV medication reduces the number of copies of HIV in the someone’s system and for the majority people they can get this to levels known as ‘undetectable’. This does not mean they are no longer living with HIV but the amount of HIV in their blood is so low, it can not be picked in particular tests.

Studies have also shown that if someone has an undetectable HIV status, they are unable to pass on HIV to someone else when not using condoms. People who are undetectable can have children who are HIV negative and have unprotected sex without transmitting HIV. This is known as U=U or undetectable = untransmittable.

The U=U message is a very important message for anyone affected by HIV to address the fears and stigma of becoming HIV positive or knowing someone who is living with HIV.

PEP

PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is a course of medication taken by HIV negative people after sex to reduce the risk of getting HIV. PEP needs to be taken within 72 hours of the potential risk. PEP is most effective when taken within 24 hours of the risk. It is medication that needs to be taken for 28 days.

PEP is available at sexual health (GUM) clinics or A&E. Find your sexual health clinic here.

PEP is free on the NHS but is not given routinely to everyone who asks for it. Only people who meet the guidelines will be offered PEP. You can find out more about the guidelines here.

Avoiding unwanted pregnancy

Long-Acting Reversible Contraception

The purpose of contraception is to prevent pregnancy. There are two main types of contraception: Hormonal and Non-hormonal 

Hormonal contraception includes the contraceptive pill, the combined vaginal ring, the contraceptive patch, the progestogen only pill, the progestogen-only injection, the progestogen only implant and progestogen only intrauterine system (IUS).

These methods are called hormonal because they work by releasing hormones into the body which then prevent pregnancy. The hormones work by stopping ovulation, making cervical mucous thicker to stop sperm meeting an egg and by thinning the womb lining so eggs can not implant.

Some hormonal contraception may have side effects including breast tenderness, headaches and nausea. These often subside as your body gets used to the contraceptive.

Non-hormonal contraception is contraceptives that do not have any hormones in them. An IUD is a small copper and plastic device that is inserted into the womb. It works by creating an environment where sperm can not survive which then means the sperm can not reach the egg and fertilize it.

Diaphragms fit inside the vagina and cover the service and stop sperm entering the womb. The diaphragms need to be used with spermicide which contains chemicals to stop sperm meeting the egg.

 

If you live in Hackney and are aged over 16, and you’d like to start using contraception, or carry on with your current method and would usually get it from a sexual health clinic, you can now order it from Sexual Health London.

Condoms & Lube

Condoms are the best form of protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). External condoms are a made of very thin plastic or rubber and creates a barrier between sperm and the vagina. Internal condoms are similar to external but the internal condom goes inside the vagina and works by stopping sperm entering the vagina. They also give protection from STIs.

Condoms come in a range of sizes, textures, materials and flavours. It is important that you’re able to find the right fit and feel for you and your partner(s). Exploring what feels right for you and your partner(s) should be fun and enjoyable.

Before using a condom make sure it has a CE mark and that it has not passed its expiry date.

If you are using sex toys do not forget to cover them with a condom and wash the toys after each use. If the condom comes off, open a new condom and put it on before continuing sex. Change condoms between partners and regularly replace them during longer sex sessions.

Lube makes sex smoother, more pleasurable and reduces the chance of a condom breaking. When using lube, stick to a silicone or water-based lube. Silicone-based lube will not damage condoms but may damage silicone sex toys. Avoid oil-based lubes like Vaseline, baby oil and lotions. They damage latex condoms.

A list of outlets providing free condoms to under-25s can be accessed on the Young Hackney website. Free condoms for 25+ in higher-risk groups can be accessed from the pharmacies listed on this page.

Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception is for people who have had unprotected sex recently and are worried about the risk of pregnancy. The pill also known as the morning after pill can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. The sooner it is taken the better.

It can be prescribed at GPs, sexual health clinics or A&E. It can also be prescribed at some pharmacies. Find a list of places that offer emergency contraception here.

A copper IUD can also be used as emergency contraception. This is the most effective option and can be used up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

If you live in Hackney and are aged over 16, and you’d like to start using contraception, or carry on with your current method and would usually get it from a sexual health clinic, you can now order it from Sexual Health London.

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Sexual health services in City & Hackney

 You can access a wide range of local sexual health services on Homerton sexual health services. This includes information about contraception, local sexual health clinics (Clifden Centre, Ivy Centre, and 80 Leadenhall in the City of London), how to access services if you are aged under 17, as well as their offering around free PrEP treatment.

In addition, you can also access a range of support for your sexual and reproductive health, such as Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC), STI testing and treatment, and more, at your GP practice, or a local community pharmacy.

Free, quick and easy testing for STIs

  • if you live in Hackney and you’re over 16, and have no or mild STI symptoms, you can order a free kit to easily test yourself for STIs in the privacy of your own home through Sexual Health London. There is no referral process
  • if you are aged between 16-24 years old and live in Hackney you can order a free home chlamydia test through Checkurself. If you have chlamydia symptoms, or have received a positive result, then you need treatment. Find out how to access treatment
  • Hackney residents who may be at-risk of having contracted Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or HIV, can take a free, confidential test at a local GP surgery, or at Homerton Hospital

 Order free contraception

If you live in Hackney and are aged over 16, and you’d like to start using contraception, or carry on with your current method and would usually get it from a sexual health clinic, you can now order it from Sexual Health London.

A wide choice of contraceptives are available, including emergency / morning after pills, combined pills, mini pills, patch, and ring. You can arrange for them to be delivered to your home or to collect from a location. You’ll receive a full online consultation, and your request will be reviewed by a GP before your contraception is prescribed.

Access free condoms

When used correctly and consistently, condoms are an extremely effective method of preventing STIs, such as HIV, and avoiding unwanted pregnancies.

You can access free condoms and lubricant from a range of local venues, if you are either under 25 years old, or 25+ and in the following group(s) at higher risk of STIs and HIV:

  • gay / bisexual men
  • Black African and Black Caribbean
  • client of a substance misuse service
  • involved in sex working

A list of outlets providing free condoms to under-25s can be accessed on the Young Hackney website. Free condoms for 25+ in higher-risk groups can be accessed from the pharmacies listed on this page.