'I have a sexual health check every six months'

Josh Rafter

Josh Rafter found fame in Big Brother, but his real passion is supporting people whose lives are affected by HIV. He fundraises for charities including the National AIDS Trust, and explains to NHS Choices why sexual health check-ups are important.

"Sexual health is hugely important, and it's a subject that every gay man should be aware of and fully informed about, and one they should take very seriously."

Is it important to insist on using a condom at the beginning of a relationship?

"Yes. Safer sex is imperative in any new relationship. It's impossible to know the sexual history of any partner and you should never presume your partner is negative."

Does there come a point in a long-term relationship when using protection no longer becomes an issue? 

"It should always be an issue. However, after being in a relationship for a long time, you should discuss the options, and if you both feel fully committed to a monogamous relationship and have full sexual health screening and testing, you can then decide about protection. My partner and I both go for a sexual health MOT every six months."

What advice would you give someone about raising the subject of HIV or condom use?

"Be upfront and honest from the start. Communication with your partner is vital. What kind of safer sex measures would they rather take? What do you prefer?

"If you have different ideas, try to reach a compromise that makes you both feel comfortable."

How easy do you think it is to find a sexual health clinic?

"It's extremely easy in London, as they're dotted all over the place. But if you're having difficulty finding one, give the Terrence Higgins Trust a call, as there is always fantastic help and advice at the other end of the line."

You can also search on NHS Choices for sexual health services near you.

Would you advise people to have hepatitis jabs?

"Any gay man who is having sex should immediately consider having hepatitis jabs. Hepatitis A, B and C are caused by different viruses that make the liver inflamed, and their effects vary in severity. Gay men can pick them up and pass them on in different ways. For example, some sexual and drug-taking activities, such as injecting and sharing rolled-up notes when snorting cocaine, can put you at greater risk.

"Hepatitis A and hepatitis B can be easily prevented through vaccinations, which are available for free from sexual health centres. There is currently no vaccination against hepatitis C, but you can take precautions to prevent it from being passed on."

Can you remember the first time you visited a sexual health clinic? 

"No, not really. It was a long time ago. I do remember being very nervous and anxious about what I might be asked, but also in case someone I knew saw me.

"Once I had lost my 'clinic virginity' and had seen how helpful the doctors and nurses were, I felt empowered by knowing I could take charge of my own sexual health. I also got some useful leaflets on sexual health and all the possible sexual infections people can pick up. When it comes to sexual health, knowledge plays a very important role."

Whether you're straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you need to have a regular sexual health check if you have sex with multiple partners, or if you or your partner have sex with someone else.

You can get details of your nearest sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic by searching for services near you, or from a GP surgery, health centre, pharmacy or hospital.

Page last reviewed: 17/12/2014

Next review due: 17/12/2016


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