Sexually Transmitted Diseases
As in most western countries, AIDS (AIDS or SIDA) is on the increase: by 2002 the total number of AIDS cases in Italy (population 60 million) was 49,333, compared with 18,334 cases in the UK (population 58 million) and 20,898 in Germany (80 million). Condoms (preservativi) can be purchased in packets from chemists'; department stores and supermarkets generally don't stock them and you're unlikely to find many vending machines. Family planning centres and family doctors don't generally issue them free either. Free and anonymous testing for HIV (pronounced akka-ee-vee), which is conducted at least one month after patients have been at risk, is available at departments of infectious diseases (malattie infettive) in public hospitals and other public health centres. A doctor's referral isn't usually required, although if you're a visitor to Italy and aren't in possession of a national health card, you may need to obtain a straniero temporaneamente presente (STP) card from your local health authority declaring that you're temporarily resident. Confidential advice can also be obtained from the free AIDS helpline ( 167-861 061).
For the testing and treatment of other sexually transmitted diseases (malattie a trasmissione sessuale), e.g. hepatitis B and C, syphilis and gonorrhoea, you must be referred by your family doctor and pay the ticket price. AIED centres offer information and testing for all STDs, as well as advice on a range of other health issues.
This excerpt has been republished with permission from Survival Books. Some of the information may apply to EU citizens only. If you would like to get the inside track on moving to Italy, pick up your copy of this great book by clicking here.