Sexually transmitted infections are common and many are easily passed from person to person. Some people may be symptom-free and unaware that they are infected. Using condoms can significantly reduce the chance of getting an STI. It’s also a good idea to talk to any new partners about sexual history. Some couples choose to have STI tests done before having sex, or before deciding to have sex without condoms. If you have unprotected sex, more than one partner, a broken condom or unusual symptoms it may be appropriate to have STI testing done.
The clinic provides individual counselling, testing and free treatment of most sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We also provide counselling and anonymous testing for HIV.
For more detailed information, check out Sex & U which offers a risk assessment tool as well as a list of STI FAQs. The site was developed by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a bacteria that is passed from an infected person to their partner during unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sex. Many people with chlamydia have no signs or symptoms; however some women may notice a change in the discharge from the vagina, bleeding after sex, burning during urination, or lower abdominal pain. Men may notice burning during urination, a discharge from the penis or an irritation at the opening of the penis. Oral chlamydia may cause a sore throat and anal chlamydia may cause rectal pain, bleeding or discharge.
Untreated Chlamydia may lead to fertility problems.
Chlamydia is tested with a urine sample, or from urethral, vaginal, rectal or throat swabs. The treatment is one dose of antibiotics, taken all at once. At the clinic, testing and treatment of chlamydia is free and confidential, by appointment.
There is a form of chlamydia called LGV (lymphogranuloma venereum) which is rare in Canada but on the increase. Depending on sexual history, testing for LGV may be available.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a bacteria that is passed from an infected person to their partner during unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sex. Many people with gonorrhea have no signs or symptoms; however some women may notice a change in the discharge from the vagina, bleeding after sex, burning during urination, or lower abdominal pain. Men may notice burning during urination, a discharge from the penis or an irritation at the opening of the penis. Oral gonorrhea may cause a sore throat and anal chlamydia may cause rectal pain, bleeding or discharge.
Untreated gonorrhea may lead to fertility problems.
Gonorrhea is tested with a urine sample, or from urethral, vaginal, rectal or throat swabs. The treatment is one dose of antibiotics, by injection. At the clinic, testing and treatment of gonorrhea is free and confidential, by appointment.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a bacteria that is passed from an infected person to their partner during unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sex. Early signs of syphilis may include an open, painless sore, a rash, swollen glands and flu-like symptoms.
Syphilis is a potentially serious infection which can lead to long-term health problems if left untreated.
Syphilis is tested through the blood. Treatment is antibiotics by injection, in one dose or once a week for three weeks, depending on the stage of infection.
Free and confidential testing and treatment for syphilis are available at the clinic, by appointment.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is a virus passed from an infected person to their partner during skin to skin contact. There are many strains of the virus. Some can cause visible warts on the inside or outside of the vagina or anus, on the penis, testicles or in the groin area. Other strains cause cell changes which could lead to cervical, anal or throat cancer.
HPV is very widespread and many people who are infected don’t know it. Visible warts are diagnosed through examination by a health care practitioner. They can be treated through laser, freezing or application of an acid. Cervical HPV may show up on a Pap smear, which is a screening test for changes to the cells of the cervix.
There is a vaccine available which can protect against nine common strains of HPV.
Diagnosis and treatment of genital warts is free and confidential at the clinic, by appointment. We also provide Pap smears.
Molluscum is a superficial skin infection caused by a virus which infects the skin. Symptoms are firm flesh coloured, doughnut shaped bumps, about 2-5mm in diameter. Their sunken centre contains white curdy material.
Molluscum is passed from one person to another by skin to skin contact. It can also be transmitted indirectly from shared towels, swimming pools, etc. They can be found anywhere on the body, but when sexually transmitted they are found on the external genitals, buttocks and thighs.
Symptoms can appear anywhere between 1 week to 6 months after contact.
Although the Molluscum Contagiosum lesions may resolve by themselves, treatment can shorten the length of the infection. A liquid drug, TCA, is painted over the lumps once a week until they disappear. It can also be removed through the use of a dermal curette.
Diagnosis and treatment of Molluscum is free and confidential at the clinic, by appointment.
HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus) is a virus passed from an infected person to their partner during vaginal, oral and anal sex. There are two types of the virus; HSV 1 and HSV 2. HSV 1 is usually linked to cold sores around the mouth; however they may be passed to the genital area through oral sex. HSV 2 is usually linked to genital herpes but may be passed to the mouth during oral sex.
Signs of herpes include painful or itchy open sores, a tingling sensation in the skin at the site of the sores, swollen glands or flu-like symptoms. First outbreaks are usually more severe and last longer. Symptoms may recur, especially when the immune system is stressed. The virus is passed during outbreaks though in some cases may be transmitted even when sores are not present.
HSV is diagnosed thorough examination and by a viral swab. There is a blood antibody test for HSV however it is not considered diagnostic as it will detect any past exposure to HSV, even if this did not lead to infection.
Anti-viral medication can reduce the severity and length of a herpes outbreak, and may reduce the chance of getting subsequent outbreaks.
Free and confidential HSV testing is available at the clinic.
Hepatitis B is a virus that can be passed from an infected person to their partner through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. It can also be transmitted through sharing personal items that may have blood on them, such as razors or nail clippers.
Hepatitis B attacks the liver. In most infected people the infection will resolve without the need for treatment, over a 6 month period, after which time the person is no longer infectious. However some people may become carriers of the virus, which means they can always transmit it. These people may also be at risk for liver disease, including cancer.
Hepatitis B is tested through blood. Free and confidential testing is available at the clinic, by appointment. There is also a vaccine which protects against the virus. The vaccine is also available at the clinic.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus which an infected person can pass to a partner through unprotected vaginal or anal sex. Transmission through oral sex is possible but uncommon. The virus can also be passed through the sharing of needles, during pregnancy and through breast-feeding.
HIV attacks the immune system, so an infected person is at higher risk of developing other infections. When people with HIV become symptomatic of these other infections, they are diagnosed with having AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Disease). However people with HIV may not develop AIDS for many years, and a variety of treatment options are available.
Free, anonymous HIV testing is available at this clinic by appointment. We provide both the Rapid Point of Care test, with results in a few minutes, as well as the standard blood test, with results in a week. It is recommended to wait 12 weeks after possible exposure to HIV in order to have accurate results.
Trichomonas is an infection caused by a parasite that is passed from an infected person to their partner during unprotected vaginal sex. Many people who are infected will have no symptoms; however women may notice an increase in vaginal discharge, with a change in colour or odour.
Testing for trichomonas is done by vaginal swab. Testing is not generally done for men. The treatment is antibiotics, taken by mouth, in one dose. Free and confidential testing and treatment are available at the clinic, by appointment.
Pubic Lice and Scabies are tiny insects which are passed through skin to skin contact with an infected person.
Pubic Lice live in the pubic hair and feed on human blood. Symptoms may include itching, a rash and visual detection of tiny light brown insects or their oval white eggs.
Scabies are tiny mites that burrow beneath the surface of the skin and lay eggs. Symptoms include a rash and itching.
Pubic Lice and Scabies are treatment with special soaps, creams and shampoos, available from the pharmacy.
Yeast and bacterial vaginosis are over-growths of organisms found normally in the vagina. They are not sexually transmitted and do not pose serious health risks, however they can be irritating.
Yeast is caused by a fungus. Symptoms may include a thick white clumpy discharge, itching inside or outside the vagina, and a feeling of dryness or irritation. It is tested by vaginal swabs. Treatments include over-the-counter medications from the pharmacy, such as Canesten or Monistat, or probiotic capsules from health food stores. Yeast can be avoided by using plain, unscented soaps, wearing cotton underwear and not wearing underwear to bed at night.
Bacterial Vaginosis is caused by a bacteria. Symptoms include discharge, irritation and a fishy odour. It is tested with a vaginal swab. Treatment includes antibiotics or over-the-counter suppositories (Prevegyne and Purfem).
For more detailed information, check out Sex and U which offers a risk assessment tool as well as a list of STI FAQs. The site was developed by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.