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Sexual Health

Sexually Transmitted and Blood-borne Infections

Sexually Transmitted and Blood-borne Infections (STBBI)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are infections that are transmitted during sex. They are very common and are usually passed on during unprotected sex.

Blood-borne Infections (BBIs) are infections that are transmitted from one person to another in the blood stream by exposure to the blood and body fluids of another (ie: a needle stick injury, getting someone’s blood in a mucous membrane or open skin) .

Some infections can be transmitted during sex and/or directly from blood to blood.

Common STBBIs

What is it?

  • BV is an overgrowth of bacteria normally found in the vagina, it is the most common cause of vaginal discharge.

How do I get it?

  • The cause is often unknown.  Anything that upsets the normal balance in the vagina seems to cause symptoms. 

How is it tested?

  • Your health care provider may examine the vagina and take a swab of the discharge (that is sent to the lab for testing)

Can I treat /cure it?

  • Medication will easily treat and cure BV but is only needed if you have symptoms, are going for a genealogical procedure or surgery or if you are pregnant and have a history of preterm delivery

How do I protect myself?

  • Avoid activities that upset the balance of normal flora; avoid use of feminine sprays/douches, bubble baths, oil and deodorant tampons.  Avoid wearing tight fitting clothing, limit the number of sexual partners or abstain from sex, always wipe front to back after using the toilet

For more information go to CDC

What is it?

  • A bacterial infection that can affect the urethra, vagina, cervix, rectum or throat.  It can also cause another form of STI called lymphogranuloma venerum (LGV).

How do I get it?

  • Chlamydia can be spread by unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex.

How is it tested?

  • It is a simple as peeing in a cup or having a swab of the site that was exposed (your throat, vagina, urethra or anus). 

Can I treat /cure it?

  • Chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics

How do I protect myself?

  • Abstain from having sex or limit the number of sexual partners you have. Always use a condom or dam when you have sex, talk to your partners ask them to be tested before you have sex, you can be tested too.

What is it?

  • A bacterial infection that can affect the urethra, vagina, cervix, rectum or throat

How do I get it?

  • Gonorrhea can be spread by unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex.

How is it tested?

  • It is a simple as peeing in a cup or having a swab of the site that was exposed (your throat, vagina, urethra or anus). 

Can I treat /cure it?

  • Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics.

How do I protect myself?

  • Abstain from having sex or limit the number of sexual partners you have. Always use a condom or dam when you have sex, talk to your partners ask them to be tested before you have sex, you can be tested too. 

What is it?

  • Hepatitis B (also called Hep B) is a virus that affects the liver.

How do I get it?

  • Hep B can be spread by having oral, anal or vaginal sex with an infected partner.  You can also get Hep B through exposure to infected blood or blood products particularly through shared needles or drug equipment and occasionally from contact with shared personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes or razors.

How is it tested?

  • A simple blood test can detect Hep B.

Can I treat /cure it?

  • There is no cure for Hep B.  Most people will recover from Hep B within 6 months.  Some will develop a chronic infection that will need to be followed up by a specialist.

How do I protect myself?

  • Get immunized for Hep B. Abstain from having sex or limit the number of sexual partners you have. Always use a condom or dam when you have sex, talk to your partners ask them to be tested before you have sex, you can be tested too.
  • If you use injection drugs, use a new clean needle every time do not share needles or other drug equipment.

What is it?

  • Hepatitis C (often called Hep C) is a virus that affects the liver

How do I get it?

  • Hep C can be spread by sharing contaminated needles or other drug equipment, having sex when blood is there, getting a tattoo or piercing with unsterilized equipment or having a blood transfusion prior to 1992.

How is it tested?

  • A simple blood test can detect Hep C

Can I treat /cure it?

  • There are treatments for Hep C but they are complex.  Once diagnosed with Hep C it is important to follow up with a doctor who specializes in Hep C treatment.

How do I protect myself?

  • Don’t share needles or other drug equipment, get tattoos and piercings at well-known places with clear safety profiles. Use a condom or other barrier when you have sex.  Reduce the number of sexual partners.

What is it?

  • Herpes is a virus that causes blister-like sores in the genial or oral areas

How do I get it?

  • Herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected with the virus.  Up to 70% of infections are spread when there are no symptoms of the infection

How is it tested?

  • It can be tested by taking a swab of a lesion or by doing a blood test.

Can I treat /cure it?

  • There is no cure for herpes. There are medications that can help to make symptoms during outbreaks shorter and less severe.

How do I protect myself?

  • Use a condom or other barrier during sexual activity, avoid skin-to-skin contact if your partner is having any symptoms including early (prodrome) symptoms.

What is it?

  • HIV is a virus that weakens your immune system (your body’s built-in defense against disease and illness

How do I get it?

  • The 2 main ways that HIV is spread are through sex and by sharing needles or other injection drug equipment.  It can also be passed from one person to another by sharing needles or ink for tattooing, sharing acupuncture needles or from mom to baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.
  • Only 5 body fluids contain enough HIV to infect someone; blood, semen, rectal fluid, vaginal fluid and breast milk

How is it tested?

  •  A simple blood test can detect HIV.

Can I treat /cure it?

  • There is no cure for HIV.  There are medications that can treat HIV to keep you healthy.

How do I protect myself?

  • Abstain from having sex or limit the number of sexual partners you have. Always use a condom or dam when you have sex, talk to your partners ask them to be tested before you have sex, you can be tested too.
  • If you do drugs, use clean new needles & syringes each time, use your own drug equipment (bills, pipes, cookers, straws, water etc…).

What is it?

  • HPV is a the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world.  It is a virus that can cause genital warts and some cancers.

How do I get it?

  • HPV can be passed through oral, anal or vaginal sex with an infected partner.  It can also be passed with skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it.

How is it tested?

  • Most genial warts are diagnosed by visual inspection by your health care provider.  Pap tests can also detect HPV.

Can I treat /cure it?

  • There are no known cures. Genital warts can be treated using a cream or liquid nitrogen.  The treatment will remove the warts but not cure the virus itself.  The immune system will often clear the virus within 2 years.

How do I protect myself?

  • Get immunized for HPV. Use a condom or other barrier for all sexual activity.  Limit the number of sexual partners. Avoid contact with partners who have visible lesions.

What is it?

  • Molluscum contagiosum is a skin-to-skin infection caused by a virus.

How do I get it?

  • You can get it by having skin-to-skin contact (both sexual and non-sexual) with somone who has a molluscum bump or through contact with contaminated items ( towels, clothes or toys) that have been in contact with the bumps.

How is it tested?

  • There is no lab test for molluscum, a health care provider can tell if you have it by looking at your skin for bumps.

Can I treat /cure it?

  • It can be treated with a cream, frozen with liquid nitrogen or removed surgically.  Bumps can last between 2 weeks or 4 years without treatment.

How do I protect myself?

  • Do no share towels, personal items or sex toys.  Cover the bumps if someone might be in contact with them. Avoid any skin-to-skin contact with someone who has bumps, wash your hands after touching the bumps.  Use condoms or other barriers for all sexual activity. 

What is it?

  • Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a bacteria.

How do I get it?

  • You can get by having unprotected sex with someone who is already infected.

How is it tested?

  • It can be tested with a blood test or a swab of a chancre sore (if there is one)

Can I treat /cure it?

  • Syphilis can be cured easily if found early.  The best treatment is by injection antibiotics.

How do I protect myself?

  • Abstain from having sex or limit the number of sexual partners you have. Always use a condom or dam when you have sex, talk to your partners ask them to be tested before you have sex, you can be tested too.

What is it?

  • Trichomonas (sometimes called “trich”) is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite.

How do I get it?

  • It is spread from person to person during sexual contact.  It is also possible to spread from contact with wet towels or clothing that have been in contact with the parasite.

How is it tested?

  • It is usually tested by a health care provider taking a swab of the fluid from the vagina.

Can I treat /cure it?

  • Medication will cure trichomonas.  Treating sexual partners at the same time will ensure that the infection is not passed  back and forth.

How do I protect myself?

  • Abstain from having sex or limit the number of sexual partners you have. Always use a condom or dam when you have sex, talk to your partners ask them to be tested before you have sex, you can be tested too. 

What is it?

  • A vaginal yeast infection is caused by a common fungus that is normal in small amounts.  If it grows too much it can cause itching, burning and/or discharge.

How do I get it?

  • Yeast can become overgrown for a variety of reasons.  For example: eating a diet high in sugar, if you’ve been on antibiotics or have been wearing wet bathing suits can cause vaginal yeast infection.

How is it tested?

  • Your health care provider might examine you and possibly take a swab of any vaginal discharge.

Can I treat /cure it?

  • There are a couple of options for treating a yeast infection; creams, vaginal suppositories or oral medications that can be purchased over the counter at most pharmacies.

How do I protect myself?

  • Wear cotton underwear, avoid tight fitting clothing, avoid bubble baths, douches and deodorant tampons/pads.  Always wipe from front to back after using the toilet and eat a balanced diet low in sugar.  

To book an appointment for testing contact the Sexual Health Clinic.

For more information on STBBIs take a look at: https://www.sexandu.ca/stis/

Blood-borne Exposures (BBE)

If you experienced an exposure to another person’s blood or body fluids, it is important that you be assessed by a health care provider to determine your risk to infection and to get appropriate and timely treatment to prevent transmission of disease.

Nurses are trained to assess and provide information to people who have experienced an exposure to someone else’s blood or body fluids. Call the health unit at 705-721-7520 or 877-721-7520 Monday to Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm and ask to speak with a nurse in the sexual health program. For after-hours help about an exposure, call 1-888-225-7851.

Mandatory Blood Testing Act (MBTA)

This legislation allows certain persons who have been exposed to the blood or body fluids of another person under certain conditions, to apply to have the other person’s blood tested for HIV and hepatitis B and C.

Information about how to make an application, who can apply and about the processes involved is available at the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services website: Mandatory Blood Testing Information.

If you are a health care provider see our Health Care professionals portal for more information related to your role in assisting a patient with the MBTA process  

  Questions and Answers

  Information for Physicians & Nurse Practitioners.

External Links

Adventures in Sex City is an interactive game produced by the London Middlesex Health Unit that teaches about the transmission and prevention of STIs
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