A new sexual health drop-in clinic for gay and bisexual men has been launched in Aberdeen as syphilis cases are on the rise.

The opening coincides with World AIDS Day offering sexual health information, testing, and free condoms.

Unprotected sex among men who have sex with men is the main route through which new infections are acquired in Scotland.

Cases of infectious syphilis recorded in the north-east region has doubled over the past year, from 159 diagnoses in 2014, to 316 in 2015.

Dr Ambreen Butt, NHS Grampian sexual health consultant, said around one in seven people with HIV are unaware they have it.

She added: “We are seeing more infections, definitely in gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men.

“There are a lot of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) out there.

“Many people wait until symptoms of infection appear before considering going for a test.

“This can sometimes be weeks, months or even years after the episode of risk.

“If you have been at risk, it’s important to consider early testing to avoid long-term complications as effective treatment is readily available.”

Simon Pringle, Service Manager, from Alcohol & Drugs Action said: “We know that those within LGBT communities can be at a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections and indeed problematic alcohol and/or drug use, so this joint new clinic is an excellent opportunity to engage with these groups.”

Initially, the Exchange Street clinic will be open from 17:30 to 19:30 every Thursday.

Anyone requiring free and confidential advice, tests or treatment can contact any sexual health clinic in Grampian by contacting their GP or by calling 0345 337 9900 or visit www.nhsgrampian.org/sexualhealth

 

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