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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 7 December, 2019
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Hoping to 'get lucky' over the last big Christmas party weekend? Maybe read this first

STI clinics have seen a spike in ‘panicked’ office workers seeking appointments.

WITH THE Christmas party season well under way, STI clinics are already experiencing a spike in people seeking tests after a festive fling.

Dr Derek Freedman — who runs a private practice in Ranelagh and is also attached to the GUIDE clinic at St James’s Hospital — says office workers have been turning up “in a panic” to seek testing.

It’s a trend observed every year, he says. In December, people make an appointment in the wake of a unplanned sexual encounter. They may have no symptoms, but they realise that they are at risk, and need to be tested.

In January, it’s a different story.

That’s when  people come in with symptoms: discharge,warts, sores, or their partner has a problem. That’s when they are in a real fix.

Source: Shutterstock/Chamille White

“Christmas is a time of merriment, a time of partying. It’s also a time for acquisition opportunities.

It’s frequently a time where a fantasy can turn into a reality, and then turn into a nightmare.

For the last few weeks, people have been showing up seeking a full range of tests, after an unplanned encounter.

“They may have a home to go to. They might have a partner to go home to and they’re extremely anxious and distressed about the situation.

“They are stressed about the impact it will have on their relationship, or future relationships.”

However, Freedman notes:

“It’s not the people who come for testing we need to worry about. It’s the multitudes of people who do take risks and who don’t get checked out.

If people have sexual risk they should get fully screened and tested.

“We know that early detection and treatment makes these infections minor — if delayed or neglected, that’s when complications occur.

“It is essential that they have a a full range of tests, including a full examination, if they want to be sure that they are free from infection. The microscope is a very sensitive and useful tool for this.”

The drink factor

Alcohol is a factor in around 70 per cent of the encounters Freedman hears about, he says.

“There is also a problem in some key populations.

“In Dublin today, there are outbreaks of Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, and something called Lymphoma Granuloma Venereum or LGV — almost epidemic.

These are concentrated in people who go in for casual encounters, often with internet contacts, or at ‘sauna” venues in the centre of town.

And as we head into the last big weekend of parties, the specialist has some timely festive advice for anyone hoping to get luckly.

“Get the name. Get the mobile phone number. Use a condom… And give breakfast — at least see where you’ve been.

“It is very important that you can contact the person you have been with. Many of the infections are totally silent, with no signs or symptoms, and the only way they can know if they have in infection is if you tell them.

We’re not trying to be killjoys here. Sex is great — we want people to enjoy it. These are just things to be aware of as you’re heading out.

Dr Freedman has a booklet on what to expect when you go for an STI test. You can view it here. Here’s a full list of STI clinics around the country, from the HSE.

First posted at 7.30am.

Read: ‘Not everyone partied but the bubble meant their lives were better’

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