Health and Wellbeing

Safer Sex

Find information about STIs, safer sex and sexual health check-ups

Sex can be part of many people's university experience - it's important to make sure that if you do have sex it is consensual, and you take steps to protect yourself and your partners from both unwanted pregnancy and STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

STIs are infections that can be passed on through intimate sexual contact, including Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Herpes and HIV. Symptoms can include pain on urination, a skin condition, discharge or lower abdominal pain, but many infections don't produce any symptoms at all.

You can find out more about STIs here:
NHS Choices website


Safer Sex

Safer Sex can include the following things:
• using barrier methods of contraception
• using plenty of water-based lubricant
• having regular sexual health check-ups
• talking to your sexual partner/s about sexual health

Condoms (male and female) are the only form of contraception that protects against both pregnancy and STIs. Male condoms can also be used for safer oral sex because they act as a barrier to prevent STIs spreading between sexual partners - this is why condoms are called "barrier methods" of contraception.

You can get free condoms, Femidoms/vaginal condoms and lubricant on campus by registering for an X-Card.

Other forms of contraception protect against pregnancy but not against STIs, so it is important to use barrier methods (condoms) until you know that both you and the person/people you are having sex with have no STIs (by going for a full sexual health check-up).

Using plenty of water-based lubricant can reduce the chances of a condom breaking.

For tips on how to start conversations with your partner/s about sex and sexual health take a look at the NHS Choices webpages.

More information about sexual consent

More information about sex and healthy relationships


Sexual Health Check-ups

Everyone should go for a full sexual health check-up as part of their normal healthcare routine. Every 6 - 12 months is recommended.

You should go for a check-up even if you have no symptoms and you've used condoms every time you've had sex. This is because some STIs are passed on by skin-to skin contact so can be passed on even when a condom is used, and because many STIs have no symptoms, so you wouldn't necessarily know if you had one.

You can access sexual health check-ups and testing in the following ways:

Full check-up

Visit one of Brighton's SHAC services - they have walk-in and booked appointments

Chlamydia/Gonorrhoea test

Come to an X-Card drop-in or the Student Life Centre reception, to pick up a free self-test kit for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea (the two most common STIs in young people in the UK). The test will only check for these two infections.

Home Testing Kits

You can request for a free STI home testing kit to be sent to you, so you can carry out the tests at home. The easily self-taken tests are free and confidential, and will arrive in discreet packaging. You can receive your results via text message. Request a free home testing kit.

Rapid HIV testing

Terrence Higgins Trust offer free, confidential rapid HIV testing for anyone from the LGBTQ+, Black community, and sex workers.


HIV and HIV Testing

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, and weakens your ability to fight infections and disease. It's most commonly caught by having sex without a condom, but it can also be passed on by sharing infected needles and other injecting equipment, and from an HIV-positive mother to her child during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. The virus attacks the immune system and weakens your ability to fight infections and disease. You can find more information on HIV by visiting the THT website and the NHS website.

PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis)

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a treatment that can prevent HIV infection after the virus has entered a person's body. PEP is an emergency measure to be used as a last resort, eg if a condom breaks or you have a ‘slip up’ from your usual safer sex routine. It is free of charge but can only be prescribed by doctors and if certain criteria are met.

You can find more information on PEP on the THT website and the NHS website.

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a course of HIV drugs taken before sex to reduce the risk of getting HIV. It is not currently available on the NHS, but could one day be widely available to those who are at high risk of coming into contact with the virus.

You can find out more about PrEP on the THT website.

HIV Testing

HIV testing is usually a blood test, and it can be done as part of a full sexual health check-up or as a specific test for HIV. The test looks for antibodies in the blood, and these can sometimes take up to 3 months to appear - this is called the "window period", however you should not wait this long to seek advice if you are worried. Find out more about HIV testing.

Where can I get tested?

Anyone can be tested for HIV as part of a full sexual health check-up at Brighton's SHAC services
Gay/Bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) can access testing at Terrence Higgins Trust in Brighton
All African men and women can access testing at Terrence Higgins Trust in Brighton

Find up to date information on where you can access an HIV test

Useful Links

Information on HIV
Information on testing for HIV
Information on living with HIV



Chemsex means using drugs as part of your sex life, and it's most common among some parts of the LGBTQ+ community. People say using drugs make them feel less inhibited and increases pleasure.

Is chemsex safe?

Drug use is risky

There is risk associated with any illegal drug use. Find out more.

If you're under the influence of drugs, you might not use a condom which can put you at risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Keeping yourself safe

Find tips on how to reduce the risks associated with chemsex.

THT run a free online group for gay and bisexual men in the UK and who take part in chemsex and would like to make a positive change to their use of chems. Find out more.


Terrence Higgins Trust can offer sexual health information and advice related to chemsex
Change Grow Live can offer support around substance use