What Do STD Clinics Do & How to Prepare for a Visit? Ghana - Beauty Ghana What Do STD Clinics Do & How to Prepare for a Visit? Ghana
. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites transmitted during a sexual contact. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one million
sexually transmitted infections are acquired across the globe every single day.
Each year, more than 375 million new chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis infections
occur. These are the four most common types of STDs, followed by herpes simplex viral infections and HIV.
Because of these numbers, the work of STD clinics is tremendously important. Such facilities are readily available in Ghana and they engage in a number of specific activities aimed at prophylactic practices, prevention, the early diagnosis and the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.
What Are STD Clinics in Ghana and What Do They Do
STD clinics play a crucial role in the identification and control of sexually transmitted infections. A few of their primary goals include:
- Provide guidance and counselling to increase awareness about STIs and the common transmission methods
- Ensure effective testing and treatment for common sexually transmitted diseases (including anonymous STD testing)
- Provide guidance and effortless access to contraception methods like condoms
- Do pregnancy testing
- Do post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) that can prevent HIV infections in the aftermath of exposure
- Provide vaccinations against some common pathogens like the hepatitis B virus
- Provide assistance and guidance in the aftermath of sexual assault
- Give referrals for medical treatment if help for a niche physician is required
- Provide emergency contraception after unprotected intercourse
- Do cervical screening
Depending on your location or the size of the STD clinic, only a few of these services may be available. Some types of assistance in STD clinics in Ghana could be available free of charge. There are many facilities, for example, that do free of charge HIV testing and counselling.
If you’re in need of such services, you should definitely check with the clinic in advance to make sure they’re available. Calling the clinic can also help you get answers to some of the most common questions about STD testing
and maintaining your reproductive health through safe practices.
Who Should Consider Visiting an STI Clinic
Anybody can benefit from the range of services available at STD clinics. This clinic in Singapore
, for example, offers PEP, HIV testing with 20 minute results and comprehensive STD testing. The people that can benefit from such services include:
- People who are sexually active and who want to ensure their optimal reproductive health
- Those interested in getting a better idea about family planning
- People who engage in risky sexual behaviours
- Sex workers
- Those who want to plan a pregnancy or are considering a pregnancy termination
- Victims of sexual assault or abuse
- Individuals who experience sexual problems and may be in need of counseling
- People who are experiencing some of the most common symptoms of STDs
- Those who have been diagnosed with an STD and are looking for the best treatment option
- Those who want to ensure they’re using the best and most reliable contraception method
Many STD clinics have websites or an official social media profile. There, you can get a better idea about the available services and whether the respective facility can address your needs.
Keep in mind that some general practices in Ghana offer a few of the services available at specialized STD clinics. You may want to talk to your GP if you have a specific concern. Your doctor will tell you if their office can provide assistance or whether you should turn to a specialized facility in the city.
Visiting a STD Clinic: What to Expect
There’s nothing to worry about when it comes to an STD clinic visit.
Many people are concerned about the fact that sexual health is still somewhat of a taboo topic in Ghana. Hence, they’re not aware of the specialised assistance opportunities or they feel shy about visiting a clinic.
Reproductive health is incredibly important and making sure your body is healthy doesn’t take that much. STD screening on an annual basis and considering reliable contraception options will help you enjoy your intimate life while being responsible towards yourself and your partner(s).
Start by finding out if you have to book an appoint or you can just drop in the clinic. Many STD facilities in Ghana are open all day long for STD testing and you don’t need to call in advance.
You can go to a clinic regardless of your gender, age or current level of sexual activity. It’s a good idea to visit such a facility and talk to a professional even if you just have a couple of questions.
When you go to the clinic, you’ll be asked to provide contact details and some additional information that will be used in the clinic’s register and that will also be beneficial for receiving your results (unless these are made available immediately).
There are a few questions that will also need to be answered to determine if you’re at a risk of contracting an STI. The clinic staff may carry out a short interview or ask you to fill out a short questionnaire. Some of the common questions you should be prepared to answer include:
- What’s your sexual history
- When did you last have intercourse
- Have you used a reliable contraception method like a condom
- Do you have any symptoms that are troubling you and suggesting you may have contracted a sexually transmitted infection
- Why are you visiting the clinic and is there a specific concern you have
- If you’re a woman and you may think that you’re pregnant, when your last period started
Depending on the circumstances and the reason for your visit, you may decide to refuse answering some of these questions. You also have the right to choose whether you’d like to speak to a male or female practitioner. The goal here is to make you feel comfortable and to provide you with important information that will enhance your sexual health in the long run.
Once the preliminary part of the visit is over, you will go ahead to have your STD test
or consultation session.
Common Types of STD Tests and What Each One Entails
STD clinics in Ghana can screen for a wide range of common infections
. We already have reliable screening options for the following conditions:
- HIV and AIDS
- Genital herpes, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic
- HPV (both genital warts and cervical cancer)
Depending on the pathogen that’s being screened for, the clinician will administer a specific type of test.
Most tests involve either a blood or a urine sample. Blood sample screening is most reliable.
Women who want to get cervical cancer screening will have a PAP smear
carried out at the clinic. A physical exam may also be administered during the procedure to ensure the absence of STI symptoms. Usually, PAP smear results become available in several days. To get those, you will either need to log into an online portal or you’ll have to visit the clinic a second time. The second option is much better because it will typically entail a consultation with a doctor who will explain the results and their meaning.
All of these services are completely confidential. This means you’re the only person that can access the results and the information isn’t going to be revealed to anyone else.
If you want to, however, you can bring a friend to the clinic. A loved one can be present during the test or during counselling, if you wish to have them by your side at all times.
Specialized STD Clinic Services
While STD testing is the most common service, clinics in Ghana offer a range of additional consultation and treatment options.
Here’s what each one of them entails:
- PEP: this is a month-long course of medications aimed at preventing an HIV infection from occurring after unprotected contact. PEP is most effective when started in the first 24 hours after the exposure. However, it can give good results when the first dose is administered within 72 hours or as soon as possible. PEP is different from pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. PrEP is a drug taken daily for a specific period of time to prevent HIV infection in the event of unprotected contact (thus, it is administered in advance).
- Contraception counselling and provision: if you’re making your first steps in the world of contraception or you’re looking for the most reliable option, a professional at an STD clinic will provide some guidance. These clinics usually provide free of charge condoms and they could also provide emergency contraception that is used in the immediate aftermath of unprotected sex.
- Pregnancy testing: STD clinics can offer urine or blood pregnancy tests. A blood pregnancy test is the most reliable one because it detects levels of a pregnancy hormone in the blood within days of implantation taking place. Depending on the result, you will get a referral to an obstetrician or you will receive pregnancy termination advice.
- Hepatitis B vaccination: just like PEP, the vaccine aims to eliminate the risk of a sexually transmitted infection. While hepatitis B vaccines are currently routinely made available to babies, older individuals in Ghana may not be vaccinated.
- Cervical cancer screening: this is the most commonly occurring cancer in women. The most important thing to understand is that cervical cancer will typically progress slowly, which ensures ample treatment options. Cervical cancer results from HPV infections but most women who contract HPV will not get cervical cancer. Annual pap smears are essential to examine the condition of the cervix and to check for pathological developments. Apart from pap smears for the diagnosis of cervical cancer, some STD clinics also offer breast cancer screening.
- Consultations and therapy options for sexual abuse victims: if you’ve been subjected to sexual assault or abuse, you can visit an STD clinic. The professionals there are trained to handle such cases in the best possible way.
STD clinics address sexually transmitted infections, as well as other reproductive issues, in a timely and affordable manner.
Other facilities in Ghana could offer the same kind of assistance. Many pharmacies have free contraception options. Anonymous STD testing could also be available in hospitals, clinics and private treatment centers. Occasionally, national campaigns are launched to provide free of charge screening. You may want to check local media for such announcements and for the addresses of the facilities that participate in these campaigns.
For a one-stop reproductive health solution, you’re better off visiting an STD clinic. This is a specialised medical facility that has the sole purpose of dealing with STDs and addressing sexual issues in a quick, effective and comfortable manner. Your anonymity is guaranteed. You’ll be meeting trained professionals who provide a high quality service, even if the clinic works on a pro-bono basis.
Visiting a STD clinic is very simple. Most often, you will not have to prepare or call in advance. You’ll simply need to answer a couple of key questions that will help practitioners determine your risk level or the type of assistance that you’ll benefit from the most.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions, even if these appear to be somewhat embarrassing. There’s nothing wrong in terms of reproductive health curiosity. In fact, being curious could help you become a much more responsible and healthy person.
Bear in mind that getting tested just once does not make you immune to an eventual infection in the future. Hence, STD testing and the selection of the right contraceptives should become a regular routine for anyone who’s sexually active.