A total of 385 patients were seen in the first few weeks of a new sex clinic opening at Lisburn Health Centre in October last year, such was the demand.
Open on Monday and Thursday mornings, the clinic provides testing and treatment for genital infections and other sexually transmitted diseases including hepatitis, syphilis, gonorrhoea, genital warts of other infections without a referral from your GP.
It also provides counselling, testing, advise and support to anyone concerned about STIs and sexual health as well as help with nonsexually transmitted infections such as thrush, bacterial vaginosis, and other genital skin conditions. It also offers emergency contraception, pregnancy testing as well as free condoms to clinic patients.
For men the test is normally just a simple urine test and for women it is a self taken swab.
In 2012 in Northern Ireland there were 50 new cases of syphilis, 3,377 of genital warts, 512 of genital herpes, 451 of gonorrhoea (the number had doubled from the previous year) and 1,676 of chlamydia.
“There has been such a huge demand for our services,” explains Dr Fiona Carey consultant in sexual health. “Lisburn has some of the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland and where there is depravation there is a demand for services such as we provide. We have sex clinics opened in Bangor and Downpatrick. The Royal has a sex clinic which is okay for your middle class who can hop into their car but we wanted a service accessible to everyone. We deal with many cases. There was a woman 34 weeks pregnant who discovered she had genital syphilis. It is not only your 16 or 17 year old but our oldest patient was in her 80s.”