Health Rhondda Cynon Taf

Sexual health home tests prove valuable tool during lockdown

People in Cwm Taf Morgannwg are now able to order sexual health testing kits online and carry out the tests in the privacy of their own home.

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The health board’s sexual health team has joined forces with Frisky Wales, a service run by Public Health Wales, to ensure people can get tested for sexually transmitted infections including chlamydia, gonorrhoea and hepatitis if they feel they are at risk.

The service was trialled across Wales before the coronavirus pandemic and has been seen as an invaluable tool during lockdown, with usual walk-in clinics closed. Two types of test are available – one for chlamydia and gonorrhoea and another for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B and C – to anyone who would like a ‘peace of mind’ test. People showing symptoms should still ring the sexual health clinic’s triage line.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB Clinical Nurse Specialist Louise Quealey said:

“The scheme was piloted pre-Covid. We were always due to come on board and Covid has given it a nudge forward. The website asks a number of questions and has safeguarding measures in place to make sure the right people can access the service. We also give out free condoms.

“This is a good service that our team has been very keen to see arrive. I think Public Health Wales has done a fabulous thing, as routine tests were high in demand before Covid. By reducing this demand, we can allow more time to focus on patients with more complex sexual health needs”.

Before Covid, up to 25 to 35 people per session were accessing the walk-in sexual health clinics at Dewi Sant Hospital, Pontypirdd and their community outreach clinics – with Dewi Sant Hospital providing up to three sessions per day. Since the pandemic, staff have been available over the phone for people who need contraception and there’s also a triage number for members of the public with concerns.

“If someone is anxious, we refer them for a test,” said Louise. “They get a text if the result is negative and, if it’s positive, we ring the person and arrange for them to come in. Initially, for the first two weeks of lockdown, people were panicky about not being able to access the service, but they understood and there was a lull. Now it’s starting to pick up again as people are meeting up.

To request a test or get advice on infections, contraception or unplanned pregnancy, visit


Living with Crohn’s – Brad’s Story

It’s estimated the disease affects at least 115,000 people in the UK according to Crohn’s & Colitis UK.

It’s now three years since I was diagnosed with the condition and since then I’ve had to educate myself to get a greater understanding of what the illness is. Crohn’s is different depending on who you are and how bad the inflammation is. Thankfully, my inflammation has been controlled by the medication that I take everyday called Azathioprine, but others are not so fortunate.
How has it affected me?

Three years on and Crohn’s has changed my life for the better.

Before I was diagnosed with the condition I weighed less than seven stone, three years on and thanks to the medication that I’m currently taking, I weigh nearly ten stone. The illness is known to slow down growth patterns and this was certainly the case with me when I was going through an important stage in my life, completing my GCSE’s and starting my A Levels. Although the medication has controlled my symptoms significantly since I was diagnosed aged 17, the illness can still impact me emotionally whilst also affecting my day-to-day life through occasional flare-ups.

My friends along with strangers ask me when it springs up in conversation, normally after a drink, what’s Crohn’s Disease? In response I explain how it’s more complicated than just inflammation in the bowel. The illness can be helped by the diet you have and your lifestyle although there is no “special diet for adult’s living with Crohn’s disease although children may sometimes need a special liquid diet to control their symptoms.” – NHS – Crohn’s Disease Website.

But what is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s and Colitis UK describe it on their website as,

“A condition that causes inflammation of the digestive system or gut. Crohn’s can affect any part of the gut, though the most common area affected is the end of the ileum (the last part of the small intestine), or the colon.

“The areas of inflammation are often patchy with sections of normal gut in between. A patch of inflammation may be small, only a few centimetres, or extend quite a distance along part of the gut. As well as affecting the lining of the bowel, Crohn’s may also go deeper into the bowel wall.

“It’s one of the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The other is Ulcerative Colitis.

“Crohn’s is a chronic condition. This means that it is ongoing and life-long, although you may have periods of good health (remission), as well as times when symptoms are more active (relapses or flare-ups).” – Crohn’s & Colitis UK Website.

The cause of the illness is still unknown despite lots of research. However, according to Crohn’s & Colitis UK,

“Over the past few years major advances have been made, particularly in genetics.

“We now believe that Crohn’s is caused by a combination of factors;
the genes you are born with, plus an abnormal reaction of your immune system to certain bacteria in your intestines, along with an unknown trigger that could include viruses, bacteria, diet, smoking, stress or something else in the environment.

“There isn’t a cure at the moment, but drug treatment and sometimes surgery can do a lot to give long periods of relief from symptoms.” – Crohn’s & Colitis UK Website.

For full information regarding Crohn’s Disease, please visit the Crohn’s & Colitis Website: &

Plus, the NHS web page dedicated to Crohn’s Disease can be found here: