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300% rise in positive gonorrhoea and chlamydia infections diagnosed in Highland last year

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Kimberley MacInnes (inset) points out NHS Highland’s Highland Sexual Health service offers an online chat service.
Kimberley MacInnes (inset) points out NHS Highland’s Highland Sexual Health service offers an online chat service.

It is fair to say that technology has changed our lives in so many different ways.

We can order our weekly shopping at the click of a button and can book holidays to exotic destinations from the comfort of our own home.

It has made our lives more convenient and provides us with a wealth of information at our fingertips. We can access advice on what restaurant to book, or even what hotel we should stay at.

We all know how handy it can be to speak with companies directly to check on an order, or even report a fault. Online chat services provide instant access to vital feedback and can help us get the information we need quicker than ever before.

And it has never been easier to get help, support and advice about sexual health thanks to NHS Highland’s Highland Sexual Health online chat service. Young people aged 25 and under can speak directly with specialist nurses with our sexual health service.

This is an ideal platform to talk about issues which some young people may feel embarrassed about when speaking face-to-face with health professionals.

We are able to direct you to online resources to help you learn more about your sexual health and how to keep you and your partner safe from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The live chat operates between 4pm-6pm Monday to Friday. A direct link is available on our website (www.highlandsexualhealth.co.uk).

It is really important for everyone, no matter what age you are, to be aware of their sexual health. We are here to help; lots of people have concerns about sex and sexual health, relationships and pregnancy.

We have clinics across Highland including Thurso, Wick, Invergordon, Fort William, Skye and Aviemore, as well as our base at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

Our website aims to cover most of your questions and provide you with the information you’re looking for on issues such as contraception, the menopause and also has helpful links to a wide range of support services.

You can also book online for STI testing or request a self-testing kit if you would rather do the test yourself at home. You can also phone 01463 888300 to book a test or order a self-testing kit.

There has been a 300 per cent increase in positive gonorrhoea and chlamydia infections diagnosed in Highland last year when compared with the figures in 2019. This is in line with a significant increase throughout the country.

There are many reasons for this increase, including an increased demand for sexual health services, increased provision of STI testing and an increased infectivity rate among those being tested.

It is vitally important for people to be tested for STIs as many people will not have symptoms and be unaware they are passing STIs to their sexual partners. If left undiagnosed, STIs can have serious consequences for your health and wellbeing.

For example, if chlamydia is left undiagnosed for a long time, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women, fertility problems in both women and men, and can spread infection to the testicles in men.

By getting tested you can help ensure that we break the chain of infection to help keep you and your sexual partners safe.

Kimberley MacInnes is service manager and lead nurse for NHS Highland’s Highland sexual health service.

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