Monday, 27th September 2021
Written by Dr Dina North, CEO of Trade Sexual Health.
This year Leicester Pride was different. Some were apprehensive due to the easing of restrictions and COVID concerns, even me! However, I found the event well organised. The purchase of bar drinks were supported by the wonderful James Cockerill from Indigo Bars & Clubs and helped organise, regulate and support a much-needed celebration for us all!
It was long awaited and the first time I found a safe place to go and get tested. I am private about my personal data and have some concerns of privacy coming from a small village environment, which also prevented me from testing elsewhere, therefore having an alternative place to test yet still feel like I had the control was particularly important for me and a good reason to get tested.
My testing experience:
Privacy was assured from the go moment and I entered the queue at the Trade marquee to line up for testing. I was assessed for COVID symptoms and greeted by a wonderful volunteer who help explain the protocol needed. After this I was given hand sanitizer and offered a mask before entering the marquee.
I was then greeted by a panel of support workers from Leicester Sexual Health NHS Service whom explained the form they needed me to fill for results notifications. I am particular about privacy and I was fully informed of how and why the wanted and needed the data.
So I completed the form and then awaited my turn whilst sitting in the appointed waiting area and shortly afterwards was called into a private area where a very kind lady spoke to me softly and clearly about the tests and different options. There were both men and women available and if I felt more comfortable to ask my questions to a specific group then this would have been accommodated.
I wanted a full testing which included blood sampling and she asked if I was comfortable to proceed.
She then asked me if I was comfortable to proceed with the next steps and took the oral swabs needed.
Next was more intimate testing so I was given instructions for how to do this and directed to the disabled Porta-loos to do my swabbing!
Afterwards I was instructed which swabs went where and thanks were shared.
I then entered the Trade part of the marquee and was thoroughly impressed with the information of events and services available. I was greeted by a Trade employee called Christian and made a donation.
When I left the marquee I was approached by two volunteers whom asked if I would help provide some data for an exit survey – none of this was personal. This was so the services could understand who was utilising the services by demographics and local data to help strengthen and reach more people next year.
They said it would be about two weeks for results, yet I got them early.
A big thank you from me for offering this service! Without it I would probably not think about testing as we do not discuss it enough - This was the biggest reflection point for me as sexual health is vitally important, whether your married, a virgin, abstain or between relationships, I cannot stress enough the importance of sexual health and education. And I hope to break down the barriers and stigma around testing. It seems crazy that I currently take routine testing for COVID-19 yet it had taken me years to do a sexual health test! I was advised to take them at least every year or more frequently if needed.
During the process I was a little anxious – especially since I took so long to get tested since being with my partner for years and worried about the outcome, yet we are lucky to have such a specialised team that are on hand and able to assist with information and guidance that I felt relieved for doing the testing.
A big thank you for everyone!