NHS to hold STI testing in gay sauna

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HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust and a London NHS Trust are to offer testing for sexually transmitted infections at a London sauna.

Chariots in Shoreditch is working with the Barts and the London NHS Trust and THT to offer the service on Wednesday evenings.

The testing is being funded by City and Hackney Primary Care Trust, and it is hoped that the informal setting of a gay sauna will encourage men to take part.

Marc Thompson, deputy head of Health Promotion at THT, said:

“A third of people living with HIV don’t know they have it and many other STIs go undiagnosed because they have no symptoms.

“Many gay men consider going for STI testing but never get round to it so in this case, we’re taking the tests to them.

“It’ll take just 5 or 10 minutes out of their evening but might pick up an undiagnosed infection.”

Tests will be on offer for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B and C.

Men will be asked to give a sample – a urine sample and a blood test. The samples would then be labelled and sent off to a lab for testing.

Results would be available after approximately a week. Vaccinations will also be available against Hepatitis B.

Last week THT hit the headlines after it assisted a man cruising on Bristol Downs to make a formal complaint about the behaviour of firefighters who shone a torch onto a bush where he was engaging in sex acts with three other men.

After a three month investigation, during which the unidentified firefighters were on paid suspension, two were fined £1000, one was demoted and one received a written warning.

Simon Nelson, of Terrence Higgins Trust, defended the charity to the Daily Mail:

“We don’t support or condone sex in public places.

“The member of the public simply wanted to know why the fire service was on the Downs at that time of day.

“We work very closely with the police, but in this case the complainant asked us not to report this incident to the police.”

The cruisers have not faced any legal action.