Here’s some basic info about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs aka STDs or Sexually Transmitted Diseases)
What’s a STI?
STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection. A STI is an infection that can be passed from one person to another during sexual activities such as oral, vaginal or anal sex. Some can even be passed through skin to skin genital contact or through sharing needles. It is important to treat STIs as soon as possible and to talk openly and honestly with your partners about past sexual experiences – yours and theirs!
All STIs can be treated and several STIs can easily be cured with medications but if a STI is left untreated, it may cause other complications in the body. Some types of STIs can cause infertility or major organ issues. Anyone who has sex can get an STI but not everyone who has sex gets them. You can only get a STI from contact with someone who is infected but that person may not even know they are infected as they may not have noticeable symptoms. That’s why regular testing is such an important step in reducing the risk of STIs.
What kind of sexual contact can pass STIs?
- Vaginal, anal, and oral sex
- Sharing sex toys
- Skin-to-skin contact (only applies to a few STIs like HPV, herpes and possibly syphilis ).
There are 3 categories of Sexually Transmitted Infections
- Bacterial STIs: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis which can all be cured using medications
- Viral STIs: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Herpes (HSV), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and Hepatitis which cannot be cured, but their symptoms can be treated and managed.
- Parasite STIs: Scabies and Pubic Lice (crabs) which can be cured using special skin medications
All about Testing
Testing for STIs is the only way to know if you are infected. Testing is covered by your medical services plan coverage (care card) and is done in privacy. Different tests use different testing methods. Youth do not need parental permission to be vaccinated, tested or treated for STIs.
When to get STI tests
We recommend that everyone get tested for sexually transmitted infections:
- whenever you have a new partner (we encourage all partners in the relationship to come in for testing)
- with your annual check up
- if ever you have symptoms such as sores, abnormal discharge, mid-cycle bleeding or discomfort. Remember that many infections do not produce symptoms.
What happens when I get tested?
All our testing services are confidential. We offer non-nominal (no name required) tests for HIV.
STI testing may include:
- Vaginal swabs for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis
- Urine sample (commonly used for males for Chlamydia and gonorrhea but can also be used for females)
- Oral swab (chlamydia and gonorrhea)
- Rectal swab (chlamydia and gonorrhea)
- Swabs of any active sores or discharge
- Blood sample for hepatitis, syphilis, and HIV
- Visual examination of genitals