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Sexually transmitted infections (STI/STD)

Lymphogranulum Venereum (LGV)

What is Lymphogranulum Venereum (LGV)?

Lymphogranulum venereum (LGV) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by Chlamydia trachomatis.

What are the symptoms?

Primary stage

Secondary stage

Tertiary stage
(more common in women)

  • appears 3-30 days after exposure
  • small, painless bump on the site of infection (penis, rectum, oral cavity, vagina, or cervix)
  • may go unnoticed in up to 50% of people and will eventually disappear
  • 2-6 weeks after the appearance of the first bump
Can include:
  • painful and swollen glands in the groin and thigh region OR
  • bleeding from the rectum
  • flu-like symptoms
  • symptoms usually disappear by themselves
  • chronic LGV
  • complications develop if left untreated

How is LGV diagnosed?

Your doctor or nurse practitioner may take samples from your urine, throat, rectum, or cervix depending on the type of sex you have recently been having.  You may also have a blood test. Your doctor or nurse practitioner will also base his or her diagnosis on your symptoms and sexual health history.

How is it treated?

LGV is treated with antibiotics. It is important to abstain from any sexual activity for 3 weeks from the beginning of treatment. Make sure that your partner(s) are also treated before resuming any sexual activity.

Can I give this to other people?

LGV can be transmitted during vaginal, anal or oral sex.

Are there complications?

  • extreme swelling of genitals
  • genital and rectal scarring
  • surgery may be necessary to repair the damage

Who can I call for more information?

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from: Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Remember:

Any infection in the genital area may increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV. Practicing safer sex, by using latex or polyurethane condoms and/or dental dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STIs.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre
179 Clarence Street
Ottawa K1N 5P7
Near the ByWard Market on the corner of
Clarence and Cumberland.
613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656
ottawa.ca/sexuality

Syphilis

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What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum. A syphilis infection has three stages and it takes between 10 days and three months for the first symptoms to occur. It is common that an infected person will not notice any symptoms.

How is it transmitted?

  • Through direct sexual contact (oral, genital, anal) with a contagious lesion or rash
  • From an infected mother to her infant during pregnancy and delivery
  • Rarely transmitted through drug injection with contaminated equipment

What are the symptoms?

Syphilis can cause serious health problems that progress over time and can be fatal.

Primary Stage (three to 90 days):

  • Appearance of a painless ulcer that disappears in or around the mouth, genitals and/or anus
  • Swollen and/or enlarged glands may last one to six weeks before going away on their own

Secondary Stage (two to 12 weeks):

  • Begins about three months after infectious contact
  • A red skin rash that does not itch on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or the entire body
  • Flu-like symptoms (headache, muscle and joint pain, loss of appetite, fever)
  • Patchy hair loss

Latent Stage:

Early latent (under one year):
  • There may be no symptoms or there may be recurrence of contagious lesions during this stage.
  • The infection can still be transmitted to other.
Late latent (over one year):
  • Latency period can last 20 to 30 years
  • No longer infectious
  • May progress to the tertiary stage if not treated

Tertiary Stage:

Tertiary syphilis may cause neurological problems, heart disease, hematological disease or skin, bone and joint damage.

How do I get tested?

Syphilis is diagnosed with a blood test. The best time to be tested is four to six weeks after your last unprotected sexual contact, or if symptoms occur.

How is it treated?

  • Syphilis can be treated and cured with antibiotics.
  • Do not have sexual contact during treatment, for two weeks after treatment and until all symptoms have been resolved.
  • Your partner(s) should be tested and treated before any sexual activity.
  • Once you have been treated for syphilis, you will need to go for blood tests to make sure the medication worked and that you are cured of the infection.
  • Even though a person is treated, some of the blood tests for syphilis may remain positive for life.
  • When seeing a new health care provider, it is important to provide them with a record of your syphilis treatment.

What are the possible complications?

Syphilis can cause severe damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, liver, bones, joints and brain. It may also be passed to an unborn child, sometimes causing birth defects and even death.

Who can I call for more information?

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from:
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Remember:

Any infection in the genital area may increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV.

Practicing safer sex, by using latex or polyurethane condoms and/or dental dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STIs.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre

179 Clarence Street
Ottawa K1N 5P7
Near the ByWard Market on the corner of
Clarence and Cumberland.
613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656
ottawa.ca/sexuality

Trichomonas Vaginitis

What is trichomonas?

Trichomonasis vaginalis (also known as trich) is a parasite that can live in the female vagina and male urethra (opening on the penis). It can survive for a short period of time outside the body.

How is it transmitted?

Trichomonasis is transmitted through unprotected vaginal and anal intercourse with an infected partner.

What are the symptoms?

Many women experience symptoms.
Symptoms can be:

  • Fishy odour
  • Frothy yellowish vaginal discharge
  • Itching and redness of the vulva and/or vagina
  • Burning with urination

Men typically do not experience any symptoms, but some may have mild urethritis (slight discharge from the penis and discomfort while urinating).

How is it treated?

  • Trichomonasis can be treated and cured with oral antibiotics.
  • It is important not to have sexual contact during treatment and for seven days after treatment.
  • Make sure that your partner(s) is treated before resuming any sexual activity.
  • You can be re-infected after treatment. When testing for trichomonasis, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) must be considered, and additional testing for other STIs should be done.

Who can I call for more information?

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from:
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Remember:

Any infection in the genital area may increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV.
Practicing safer sex, by using latex or polyurethane condoms and/or dental dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STIs.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre
179 Clarence Street
Ottawa K1N 5P7
Near the ByWard Market on the corner of
Clarence and Cumberland.
613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656
ottawa.ca/sexuality

Pubic Lice and Scabies

What are pubic lice?

Pubic lice, also known as “crabs,” are tiny insects (lice) that live on the hair around the genitals.

They can be transmitted between people during sexual activity. Sometimes lice spread to the hair, chest, underarms and, occasionally, beard, mustache and eyelashes. They are greyish brown in colour and are the size of a pencil dot. They are often difficult to see with the naked eye. The lice will lay their eggs (“nits”) where the hair joins the skin. These eggs look like tiny whitish dots. Lice live by feeding on human blood. Symptoms may appear two to six weeks after infestation.

The following symptoms can be present:

  • Itching in the genital or anal area
  • Skin irritation, redness, and inflammation
  • Small blue spots can appear where the lice have bitten
  • Visible eggs (nits) or lice

What are scabies?

Scabies are tiny mites that push (burrow) under the skin to lay their eggs. They are invisible to the naked eye. They can be transmitted between people during sexual activity, as well as with other close contact. It may take two to six weeks for symptoms to appear after infestation.

The following symptoms can be present:

  • Intense itching, especially at night
  • Skin irritation, redness and inflammation
  • Rashes in streaks on the skin that are greyish or red
  • Lesions usually appear on wrists, between fingers and toes, in the arm-pits and on the groin, on the penis or breasts and other skin folds
  • Irritated, red or inflamed skin on the penis

Pubic lice and scabies may be very itchy and severe scratching can lead to other skin infections.

How are infestations diagnosed?

Infestations are diagnosed by a doctor or nurse practitioner after examining the skin and hearing about the symptoms you are experiencing.

How is it treated?

  • You can treat pubic lice and scabies at home with medicated lotions, creams or shampoos that are available at the drug store without a prescription.
  • Ask the pharmacist for assistance and follow all the instructions carefully.
  • Check with your health care professional if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Some treatments should not be given to children.
  • Infestations may be stubborn and the usual recommendation is to retreat in seven to ten days.
  • Too many applications of the treatment can be dangerous. Itching will often continue for several weeks after treatment, especially with scabies.
  • Seek medical attention if symptoms persist after two treatments.
  • All sexual partners, family and other people who have come into close body contact with you will need to be examined and treated.
  • Any clothes, bed linen or towels used in the two to three weeks prior to having symptoms must be washed in hot soapy water or dry cleaned. If dry cleaning is not possible, place them in a closed plastic bag and store them away for two weeks.
  • Carpets, mattresses and furniture should be vacuumed thoroughly.

Can I give pubic lice or scabies to other people?

Infestations are easily spread through skin-to-skin contact or by sharing of clothing, towels and bedding.

When can I have sex again?

Sexual activity can be resumed when there are no signs of the infestation (itching, eggs, crabs, burrows) and sex partner(s) have been treated.

Who can I call for more information?

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from:
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Remember:

Any infection in the genital area may increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV.
Practicing safer sex, by using latex or polyurethane condoms and/or dental dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STIs.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre
179 Clarence Street
Ottawa K1N 5P7
Near the ByWard Market on the corner of
Clarence and Cumberland.
613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656
ottawa.ca/sexuality

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?

Pelvic Inflammatory disease (PID) is an inflammation of the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and/or surrounding tissues.

How is it transmitted?

It may be caused by a variety of bacteria and/or viruses, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

What are the symptoms?

Many women do not experience symptoms of PID. If symptoms occur, they can be:

  • Lower abdominal pain or cramping
  • Increased or abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Bleeding between periods or after intercourse, or heavier periods
  • Chills and/or fever

How is PID treated?

  • PID is treated with antibiotics. It is important to finish all the medication and tell the clinic if you vomit within one hour of taking it.
  • To ensure that the medication is working and your symptoms are improving, you must return to clinic within three to seven days.
  • Do not have any sexual activity during treatment.
  • Encourage your partner(s) to be tested before resuming any sexual activity.

Can I give PID to other people?

Bacteria and/or viruses that cause PID can be transmitted during sexual activities. You can pass the infection to your partner even when there are no symptoms.

Are there complications?

If untreated, PID can lead to:

  • Chronic pelvic pain (ongoing lower abdominal pain)
  • Infertility (inability to get pregnant)
  • Ectopic (tubal pregnancy).

Who can I call for more information?

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from:
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Remember:

Any infection in the genital areas may increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV.
Practicing safer sex, by using latex or polyurethane condoms and/or dental dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STIs.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre
179 Clarence Street
Ottawa K1N 5P7
Near the ByWard Market on the corner of
Clarence and Cumberland.
613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656
ottawa.ca/sexuality

Molluscum

What is Molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection caused by a poxvirus. It is a virus that lives in the skin. A molluscum skin infection usually appears one to three months after you are exposed to the virus. The virus can last on your body from six months to two years.

How is it transmitted?

  • Skin-to-skin contact
  • Wet towels, gym equipment and tanning beds
  • Sexual contact
  • It can be spread to other parts of the body when you scratch the bumps and then touch another body part

What are the symptoms?

  • Molluscum causes small, smooth, pearly white or flesh-coloured hard bumps with a pitted or dimpled centre.
  • You can have one or a group of bumps anywhere on the body.
  • In sexually active people, these bumps may be found on the genitals, inner thighs, or abdomen.
  • Molluscum usually appears one to three months after you are exposed to the virus. The bumps can last from six months to two years. Once the bumps are gone so is the virus.
  • If scratched, the bumps can become infected with bacteria and may be tender or red.

How is it treated?

  • The bumps will usually go away on their own in six to 12 months. Very rarely, bumps will stay up to two years.
  • Molluscum can be treated by freezing with liquid nitrogen or applying a prescription cream.

How do I get tested?

Molluscum is diagnosed by a doctor or nurse practitioner after examining the skin.

Who can I call for more information?

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from:
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Remember:

Any infection in the genital area may increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV. Practicing safer sex, by using latex or polyurethane condoms and/or dental dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STIs.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre
179 Clarence Street
Ottawa K1N 5P7
Near the ByWard Market on the corner of
Clarence and Cumberland.
613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656
ottawa.ca/sexuality
 

Hepatitis C

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver.

How is it transmitted?

You can get hepatitis C by coming in contact with infected blood. Infection can occur when:

  • Sharing any equipment (needle, syringe, water, straws, cooker, crack pipes, etc.) for using drugs
  • Having received blood and/or blood products, or immunoglobulin prior to 1992
  • Sexual contact with a partner infected with hepatitis C
  • Tattoos, body piercing, acupuncture where non-sterile equipment is used
  • Sharing personal hygiene articles such as razors, toothbrushes or nail clippers
  • Having a blood contact and/or needle stick injury (i.e. healthcare and emergency response workers)
  • Babies born to infected mothers

What are the symptoms?

Most people have no signs or symptoms of hepatitis C. People infected with hepatitis C may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Dark urine, pale stools
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite
  • Some people will “clear” the virus with no ill effects, but the majority will remain chronically infected for life.

Hepatitis C may affect you in the following ways:

  • You may live your life without developing liver damage.
  • You may develop mild to moderate liver damage.
  • You have about a one in five chance of developing severe liver damage (cirrhosis) over a period of 20 years or more.
  • If your liver is damaged by cirrhosis, you can develop liver cancer or experience liver failure, which requires a transplant.

How is hepatitis C diagnosed?

Hepatitis C is diagnosed with a blood test. It may take up to three months after exposure for the virus to be detected in the blood.

How is hepatitis C treated?

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Antiviral treatments are available.

Can I infect other people?

Hepatitis C is a strong virus that can survive for extended periods of time outside the body, even in very small amounts of blood. Any contact with any amount of blood is a potential risk. Even though an infected person may look or feel healthy, they can still transmit the virus to others.

You can decrease the risk of transmission by practicing the following:

  • Never share needles or other equipment (syringe, water, cookers, cotton, etc.) for injecting drugs or steroids.
  • Never share straws, rolled bills, crack pipes, etc. for doing drugs.
  • Practice good basic hygiene – do not share toothbrushes, razors or nail clippers.
  • Practice safer sex - always use a condom during sexual intercourse.
  • In a long-term, monogamous relationship, the risk of sexual transmission is low. The risk is increased if there is sex causing bleeding, anal sex or sex during a woman’s menstrual period. Discuss this with your partner. Your partner may want to be tested.
  • Do not donate blood, organs, tissues or sperm.
  • Do not let others touch or handle your blood without wearing gloves.

What can I do?

You can learn more about hepatitis C and take charge of your health. Talk to your doctor, public health agency, or the Canadian Liver Foundation. Remember, you are not alone.

  • Ensure a doctor is regularly monitoring you and providing you with health care and access to specialists.
  • Discuss treatment with your doctor. Disease progression varies for each person, you may or may not require treatment.
  • Restrict/avoid alcohol, as it can worsen or accelerate liver damage.
  • Discuss with your doctor before taking over the counter medications, as some medications may be hard on the liver.
  • Discuss the need for the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine. Another hepatitis infection on top of hepatitis C can produce serious or fatal consequences.
  • Ottawa Public Health offers free hepatitis A and B vaccine to anyone with hepatitis C. Education and counselling is available.
Useful websites:

Canadian AIDS Treatment Information
Exchange - www.hepcinfo.ca

Canadian Liver Foundation - www.liver.ca
or call 1-800-563-5483

Health Canada www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
Ontario Ministry of Health - Hep C

Who can I call for more information?

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from:
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Hepatitis B

What is hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a virus that affects the liver.

How is it transmitted?

You can get hepatitis B by coming in contact with infected blood, semen, vaginal secretions and saliva.

Infections can occur by:

  • Sexual contact with an infected person
  • Sharing any equipment (needle, syringe, water, cooker, cotton, etc.) for injecting drugs or steroids
  • Sharing straws, rolled-up bills, crack pipes, etc. for drug use
  • Babies born to infected mothers (childbirth)
  • Sharing personal hygiene articles such as razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers etc.
  • Tattoos, body piercing, or acupuncture where non sterile equipment is used
  • Health care and emergency response workers who have had contact with contaminated body fluids and/or needle stick injuries
  • People who were born in parts of the world where hepatitis B is very common (Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands, Eastern Europe, former Soviet Union, South America and northern Canada)

What are the symptoms?

Some people with hepatitis B will have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue, fever and malaise
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Dark urine, pale stools
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite

Some people (90 per cent) will “clear” the virus with no ill effects. Their immune system develops antibodies to fight the infection. Some people (9 per cent) will carry the virus forever (chronic carriers).

Hepatitis B may affect you in the following ways:

  • You may live your life without developing liver damage.
  • You may develop mild to moderate liver damage.
  • You may have a one in four chance of developing severe liver damage (cirrhosis), which may lead to liver cancer.

How is hepatitis B diagnosed?

Hepatitis B is diagnosed with a blood test. It may take up to two months after exposure for the virus to be detected in the blood.

How is hepatitis B treated?

  • Antiviral treatments are available.
  • Ensure that a doctor is regularly monitoring you and providing you with health care and access to specialists.
  • Restrict/avoid alcohol, as it can worsen or accelerate liver damage.
  • Discuss the need for hepatitis A vaccine. Another hepatitis infection on top of hepatitis B can produce serious or fatal consequences.
  • Ottawa Public Health offers free hepatitis A vaccine to anyone with hepatitis B. Education and counseling is also available.

How can I protect myself and other people?

Hepatitis B is a strong virus that can survive for long periods of time outside of the body. Habits and practices that involve any contact with any amount of contaminated body fluids listed above are potential risks for transmission. Even though a person may look and feel healthy, they can still transmit the virus to others.

  • Get the hepatitis B vaccine. A free vaccine is available. See further information on Hepatitis B on our website at ottawa.ca/sexuality.
  • Practice safer sex - always use a condom during sexual intercourse.
  • Never share needles or other equipment (syringe, water, cookers, cotton, etc.) for injecting drugs or steroids.
  • Never share straws, rolled up bills, crack pipes, etc. for drug use.
  • Do not donate blood, organs, tissues or sperm if you have contracted the hepatitis B virus.
  • Do not touch potentially infected blood or body fluids without wearing gloves.
  • Ensure that tattoo and body piercing establishments use sterile methods.
  • Practice good basic hygiene - do not share toothbrushes, razors or nail clippers.
Useful websites:

Canadian Liver Foundation -
www.liver.ca or call 1-800-563-5483
Health Canada website -
www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

Who can I call for more information?

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from:
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Remember:

Any infection in the genital area may increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV. Practicing safer sex, by using latex or polyurethane condoms and/or dental dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STIs.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre
179 Clarence Street
Ottawa K1N 5P7
Near the ByWard Market on the corner of
Clarence and Cumberland.
613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656
ottawa.ca/sexuality

Gonorrhea

What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhea. It is the second most common bacterial STI.

How is it transmitted?

Gonorrhea is transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal and/or oral sex with an infected partner. You can pass it on without even knowing that you are infected.

What are the symptoms?

Many people do not experience symptoms of gonorrhea. If symptoms do occur, they usually appear two to seven days after exposure.

For women: For men:
  • Thick yellowish vaginal and/or rectal discharge
  • Burning with urination
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pain and/or bleeding during intercourse
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Rectal pain and/or discharge
  • Sore throat
  • Thick yellow/green discharge from the penis and/or rectum
  • Burning with urination
  • Burning and/or itching around tip or inside of the penis or around the anus
  • Pain and/or swelling in the testes
  • Rectal pain and/or discharge
  • Sore throat

How do I get tested?

  • A swab may be taken from the cervix, urethra, throat and/or rectum. A urine test may also be done.
  • Testing is the only way you will know if you have gonorrhea.

How is it treated?

  • Gonorrhea can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics. In some parts of Canada and the rest of the world, gonorrhea may be resistant to some antibiotics. Please let your health care provider know if you and/or your partner(s) have been travelling.
  • Do not have sexual contact during treatment and for seven days after treatment.
  • Make sure that your partner(s) are treated before resuming any sexual activity.
  • You can be re-infected after treatment.

Possible complications:

For women:
 
For men:
 
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is an infection in the fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries
  • Infertility (inability to get pregnant)
  • Ectopic pregnancy (tubal pregnancy)
  • Babies born to women who are infected with gonorrhea could have severe eye infections or infant pneumonia
  • Infection of the testes
  • Rarely causes infertility

Who can I call for more information?

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from:
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Remember:

Any infection in the genital area may increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV.
Practicing safer sex, by using latex or polyurethane condoms and/or dental dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STIs.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre
179 Clarence Street
Ottawa K1N 5P7
Near the ByWard Market on the corner of
Clarence and Cumberland.
613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656
ottawa.ca/sexuality

Genital herpes (HSV)

What is genital herpes?

  • Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
  • There are two main types of Herpes Simplex Viruses, HSV 1 and HSV 2.
  • Either type may cause mouth or genital blisters or sores.
  • There is no cure for genital herpes and often people will have recurring outbreaks. During these outbreaks the infected person will have sores and symptoms for a while, then the virus will go into a dormant stage and the person will have no symptoms again until the next outbreak.
  • It is still possible to transmit the virus during the dormant stages when a person has no symptoms.

How could I get this?

  • Genital herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact, usually during oral, vaginal or anal sex.
  • Even people who don’t have any visible sores or blisters may still unknowingly pass the virus to their sexual partner(s).

What are the symptoms?

  • If symptoms of a primary outbreak occur they will usually develop between six and 21 days after skin-to-skin contact with an infected partner.
  • Many people do not notice a primary outbreak, making it unclear as to when they were infected.
Primary outbreak Recurrent outbreaks
  • Small blisters in the vagina or on the vulva or cervix; on or around the penis or testicles; on or around the anus; or on the thighs or buttocks.
  • Pain during urination.
  • Fever and aches in the joints and muscles.
  • General feeling of ill health.
  • The number of outbreaks and the amount of time between outbreaks varies from person to person.
  • Some people may have them frequently and others may have them only rarely.
  • Usually occurs in same area as the primary outbreak.
  • Itching or tingling at site of infection may occur.
  • Less severe and shorter in duration.

How do I get tested?

  • A swab of a sore or blister may be taken.
  • In certain circumstances, and when available, a blood test may be done to test for genital herpes.

How is it treated?

  • There is no cure for herpes, but effective treatments for outbreaks do exist. To be effective these treatments must be started immediately after symptoms appear.
  • Antiviral medications are available and can be taken to speed the healing of blisters or sores and shorten the duration of pain and discomfort.
  • Suppressive therapy (daily antiviral medication) is an option for those who have frequently recurring outbreaks.
Emotional effects of genital herpes

For many people, a herpes diagnosis can cause a strong emotional response. People may feel anger, embarrassment, worry or guilt. Often, people will feel depression, fear, rejection or isolation.
These are very common reactions and will not last forever. It is important to talk about these feelings with someone you trust, such as a health professional, a supportive person in your life or your partner. Many other people have felt the same way.

Are there complications?

Rarely, people with genital herpes may spread the virus to other parts of their own body with their hands. Transmission to the eye can be very serious. It is important to wash and dry your hands thoroughly after touching sores or blisters in order to prevent spreading the infection.

If you become pregnant it is important that you tell your health care provider if you or your partner have genital herpes.

Who can I call for more information?

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from:
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Remember:

Any infection in the genital area may increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV. Practicing safer sex, by using latex or polyurethane condoms and/or dental dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STIs.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre
179 Clarence Street
Ottawa K1N 5P7
Near the ByWard Market on the corner of
Clarence and Cumberland.
613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656
ottawa.ca/sexuality

Chlamydia

What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. It is the most common bacterial STI.

How is it transmitted?

Chlamydia is transmitted during unprotected vaginal, anal and/or oral sex with an infected partner. You can transmit chlamydia without even knowing you are infected.

What are the symptoms?

Most people do not experience any symptoms of chlamydia. If symptoms do occur, they usually appear two to six weeks after exposure.

For women For men
  • A change or increase in discharge from the vagina
  • Burning with urination
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pain and/or bleeding during intercourse
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Rectal pain and/or discharge
  • Watery and/or milky discharge from the penis
  • Burning with urination
  • Burning and/or itching around the tip and/or inside of the penis
  • Pain and/or swelling in the testes
  • Rectal pain and/or discharge

How do I get tested?

  • A swab may be taken from the cervix, urethra, throat and/or rectum.
  • A urine test may also be done.
  • Testing is the only way you will know if you have chlamydia.

How is it treated?

  • Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics.
  • Do not have sexual contact during treatment and for seven days after treatment.
  • Make sure that your partner(s) is also treated before having any sexual activity.
  • You can be re-infected after treatment.

Possible complications:

For women For men
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – an infection in the fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries
  • Infertility (unable to get pregnant)
  • Ectopic pregnancy (tubal pregnancy)
  • Babies born to women who are infected with chlamydia could have severe eye infections or infant pneumonia
  • Infection of the testes

Who can I call for more information?

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from:
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Remember:

Any infection in the genital area may increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV.

Practicing safer sex, by using latex or polyurethane condoms and/or dental dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STIs.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre
179 Clarence Street
Ottawa K1N 5P7
Near the ByWard Market on the corner of
Clarence and Cumberland.
613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656
ottawa.ca/sexuality

AIDS and HIV

What is human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). HIV is a virus that wears down the body’s immune system over time. When the body’s immune system is compromised, a person is less able to fight off infections.

How is it transmitted?

HIV can be transmitted through sexual contact as well as contact with blood. HIV is found in blood, semen (including pre-cum), vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, and breast milk of people living with HIV.

The two main ways that HIV can get passed between you and someone else are:

  • Through unprotected sex (anal or vaginal sex without a condom)
  • By sharing needles or other equipment to use drugs (including steroids)

HIV can also be transmitted by:

  • Having oral sex without a condom or dental dam (not as risky as vaginal and anal sex)
  • Sharing sex toys
  • Sharing needles or ink to get a tattoo
  • Sharing needles or jewellery to get a body piercing
  • Sharing acupuncture needles
  • Transmission to a fetus or baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding

HIV cannot be transmitted through:

  • Shaking hands
  • Hugs or kisses
  • Coughs or sneezes
  • Swimming pools
  • Toilet seats or water fountains
  • Sharing utensils, cups or food
  • Insects or animals

What are the symptoms of HIV infection?

There may be no obvious symptoms when you are first infected. People who are infected may remain healthy for years. Over time, most people will develop illnesses that become increasingly severe as the immune system weakens. Some people with HIV infection develop general symptoms that can be similar to:

  • chronic vaginal yeast infections
  • persistent fatigue
  • unexplained weight loss
  • diarrhea
  • enlarged lymph glands in the neck, armpits or groin
  • night sweats or fevers
  • thrush-thick, persistent, whitish coating on the tongue or mouth

Such symptoms are often caused by common illnesses and may not be signs of an HIV infection. A blood test will determine if you are HIV positive.

What are the symptoms of AIDS?

The most severe stage of HIV infection is AIDS. People with AIDS have such a damaged immune system that they can develop many life-threatening diseases, each with its own symptoms. Some of these diseases are:

  • Pneumocystis carini pneumonia (PCP)-a lung infection that causes severe shortness of breath and a heavy cough
  • Invasive cervical cancer
  • Brain infection-direct damage to the brain cells resulting in confusion, disorientation and loss of concentration
  • Kaposi's Sarcoma, a form of skin cancer.

How do I practice safer sex?

  • Use a latex or polyurethane condom correctly every time you have vaginal and/or anal sex.
  • Use only water-based or silicone-based lubricants.
  • Avoid sharing sex toys; if you do share, cover the toy with a condom for each person.
  • Use a condom or dental dam every time you have oral sex.
  • Get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) regularly.

How do I practice safer drug use?

  • Use a clean new needle and syringe every time you use drugs.
  • Use your own drug equipment and never share equipment with anyone, including your sex partner(s).

How do I get tested for HIV?

The only way to get tested for HIV is a blood test. Once you are infected with HIV virus, your body creates antibodies to fight the virus. These antibodies can take 12 weeks to show in your blood. The best time to get tested for HIV is 12 weeks after the suspected contact with the infection.

What happens if I have a positive test result?

  • Receiving an HIV diagnosis can be unsettling. However, people with HIV are usually able to live long and well thanks to huge improvements in treatment. You will receive counselling and accurate HIV facts and information to help you manage this chronic infection. You will be offered referrals to appropriate health care provider(s) and HIV resources.
  • According to public health laws, if you test positive, you will be asked to give information about your sexual partners and/ or drug equipment sharing contacts. These partners will be told that they have been exposed to HIV so they can be tested and take steps to protect their own health. Confidentiality is important; your personal information will not be shared with these partners.
  • Contact tracing may include your children if you are a woman.
  • If you have HIV, you have a legal duty to tell your partner(s) about your HIV status before engaging in any form of sexual contact that poses a “significant risk” for HIV transmission. People have been convicted of a crime for not telling their partner(s) that they have HIV. Information on HIV and the law can be obtained from the CATIE website (www.catie.ca) or call 1-800- 263-1638.

Who can I call for more information?

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from:
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Remember:

Any infection in the genital area may increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV. Practicing safer sex, by using latex or polyurethane condoms and/or dental dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STIs.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre
179 Clarence Street
Ottawa K1N 5P7
Near the ByWard Market on the corner of
Clarence and Cumberland.
613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656
ottawa.ca/sexuality

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and HPV Vaccine

What is Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 different strains or types. Some types of HPV are sexually transmitted, and HPV is the most common form of sexually transmitted infection in Canada. Up to 75 per cent of people will get the virus during their life and most people who get HPV will show no signs of it.

The types of HPV virus are grouped according to their link with cancer. Infection with the “low risk” HPV viruses causes genital warts. “High-risk” types are associated with 70 per cent of cervical cancers. Most women who have been exposed to HPV do not develop cancer of the cervix, even if the HPV is a cancer-causing type. However, in some women the infection can remain and slowly lead to cancer if it is not found and treated. Cervical cancer affects about 1,400 Canadian women and causes 400 deaths each year. In Ontario about 500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, leading to 130 deaths annually.

How does someone get HPV?

HPV can be passed from one person to another through direct skin-to-skin contact that occurs during sexual activity of any kind. People with HPV infection may not know that they have this infection because they may have no symptoms. However, they can pass the infection to their sexual partners. Depending on the type of HPV, their partners then have a chance of developing warts, cervical abnormalities, cervical cancer, or other genital cancers. Many people are exposed to the HPV virus over their lifetime. Condoms offer some protection, but the virus may be present on skin that is not covered by the condom.

What are the symptoms?

Many people can have HPV and not know it. If symptoms develop, it may take 2-3 months or even years for them to appear. Not everyone infected with HPV will develop warts. A person with HPV may carry the virus for the rest of their life.

Genital warts look like common skin warts. They usually appear as soft or hard, moist swellings, usually in the genital area. They often have a cauliflower-like appearance and may range in colour from pink, flesh-colour, white, brown or grey. They can be raised or flat, single or multiple, small or large. In women, they can appear on the vulva, in or around the vagina or anus, and on the cervix. Men may develop warts around the entrance to the urethra, on and under the foreskin, on the shaft of the penis, and around the anus.

How is HPV diagnosed?

HPV is diagnosed during a visual exam. In women, having a regular PAP test will detect the virus on the cervix.

How is it treated?

Treatments are available to remove warts for cosmetic reasons and may reduce the risk of transmission to sexual partners. Several treatments may be required before all the warts are gone.

Treatments used may vary depending on the number and location of the warts. Some common treatments available include:

  • Cryotherapy, a procedure which ‘freezes’ the warts with liquid nitrogen
  • Topical medications (e.g. podophyllin, trichloroacetic acid) applied directly to the warts
  • Laser treatment or minor surgery are often used to treat the cervix or other internal warts

Over-the-counter wart treatments should never be used in the genital area.

Can I give this to other people?

Yes. HPV is spread through close skin-to-skin genital area contact with someone who has the virus. Even people who don’t have any visible warts may still unknowingly pass the virus to their sexual partner(s).

How can HPV and HPV-related problems be prevented?

  • Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Condoms will significantly decrease the risk of getting most STIs and will help lower the chances of getting HPV infection.
  • To prevent cervical cancer, make sure to have a regular Pap test.
  • An HPV vaccine is available, Gardasil TM,that protects against four types of HPV infections “low risk” types 6 and 11, and “high risk” types 16 and 18
  • The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care is now funding the vaccine for Grade 8 girls.
  • Ottawa Public Health offers the HPV vaccine to all Grade 8 girls through a school-based clinic program.[ top ]

What does the vaccine do?

Being vaccinated will significantly lower the chances of getting both genital warts and cervical cancer. The vaccine is expected to provide long-term protection. If you have an infection with one of the HPV types in the vaccine, the vaccine will not prevent disease from that type, but will protect you against the other three types of HPV covered by the vaccine.

Sexually-active vaccinated women must continue to have regular Pap tests because the vaccine does not protect against all HPV types that cause cervical cancer.

How is the HPV vaccine given?

Gardasil™ is given in three doses. They should be given initially, two months later and again six months after the first dose. Each dose is given as a needle in the upper arm.

Who should get the HPV vaccine?

  • The vaccine is licensed in Canada for girls and women, aged nine to 26 years.
  • The vaccine provides the best protection if given before becoming sexually active, although sexually-active women will still get good protection from being immunized.

Who should NOT get the HPV vaccine?

  • Girls less than nine years of age or women over 26 years of age.
  • Women who are or may be pregnant should not receive the HPV vaccine. They may be vaccinated once they deliver.
  • Anyone who is sick with a fever or has a moderate to severe illness should wait until they feel better to receive the vaccine.
  • Anyone who has an allergic reaction to a previous dose of HPV vaccine (Gardasil™) or is allergic to aluminium or yeast.

What are the side effects of Gardasil™?

  • The most common reaction to Gardasil™ is redness, tenderness and swelling where the shot was given.
  • Fever, nausea, dizziness and headache can also occur.
  • Difficulty breathing has been reported very rarely.
  • Allergic reactions such as hives, wheezing, or swelling of the face and mouth are very rare. If these symptoms occur, seek medical attention right away.

For more information

Call Ottawa Public Health Information at 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656), toll free at 1-866-426-8885 or visit these additional web site resources:

Health Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada

Ministry of Health and Long Term Care

Who can I call for more information?

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from:
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Genital Warts and HPV

What are genital warts?

Genital warts are lesions that are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

What is Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an extremely common virus with over 100 strains or types. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in Canada. Up to 75 per cent of people will get the virus during their life and most people who get HPV will show no signs of it. 

The types of Human Papillomavirus virus are grouped according to their link with cancer. Infection with the "low risk" HPV viruses causes genital warts. " High-risk" types are associated with cervical, penile, anal,  mouth and throat cancers.

How is it transmitted?

HPV is transmitted by skin-to skin contact, often through sexual contact. Even people who don't have any visible warts may still unknowingly pass the virus to their sexual partner(s).

What are the symptoms?

  • There are usually no symptoms and people do not know they have HPV.
  • If symptoms develop, it may take 2-3 months or even years for them to appear. It may take two to three months, or even years, for them to appear. Not everyone infected with HPV will develop warts. A person with HPV may carry the virus for the rest of their life.
  • HPV can cause warts in the genital area. They can look like common skin warts, and usually appear as soft or hard skin bumps. The warts often have a cauliflower-like appearance and may range in colour from pink, flesh-colour, white, brown or grey. They can be raised or flat, single or multiple. They can appear on the vulva, in or around the vagina or anus, on the cervix, on the shaft of the penis or and under the foreskin. 

How do I get tested?

  • There is currently no routine diagnostic test for HPV in Canada.
  • In women, having a regular PAP test will detect the virus on the cervix.
  • A health care practitioner can examine your skin for genital warts.

How is it treated?

  • Treatments are available to remove warts and may reduce the risk of transmission to sexual partners. Several treatments may be required before all the warts are gone. Treatments used may vary depending on the number and location of the warts.
  • Some common treatments available include:
    • Cryotherapy, a procedure which freezes the warts with liquid nitrogen.
    • Topical medications (e.g. Podophyllin) applied directly to the warts. Home treatments are available by prescription (e.g. Vyloma, Condyline).
    • Laser treatment or minor surgery which is often used to treat the cervix or other internal warts.

Over-the-counter wart treatments should never be used in the genital area.

How is it prevented?

  • Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
     
  • Condom will significantly decrease the risk of getting most STIs and will help lower the chances of getting HPV infection.
     
  • To prevent cervical cancer, make sure to have a regular Pap test.
     
  • HPV vaccines are available , Gardasil®4 will protect against four types of HPV infections , "low risk" types 6 and 11, and "high risk" types 16 and 18.  Gardasil® 9 offers protection against 9 types of HPV infections, 6, 11, 16, 18, 31,33,45, 52 and 58.

Public Health Agency of Canada recommends HPV vaccination in:

  • females 9 through 26 years of age
  • males between 9 and 26 years of age, including males who have sex with males
     
  • Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, Ontario will offer the cancer-fighting HPV vaccine to all boys and girls in grade 7 as part of its routine school-based HPV immunization program. Students under the age of 14 years old will receive two doses of HPV throughout the school year - one needle will be given in the fall and one in the spring.
     
  • New for September 2016: All gay, bisexual and transgender men 26 years of age and younger will be eligible for free HPV vaccination. This vaccine is given in a three dose series over a six month period. You can make an appointment at a Sexual Health Centre or visit the Gayzone walk-in clinic.
     
  • More information is available on the immunization section of the website or by contacting Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 or at healthsante@ottawa.ca.

Who should NOT get the HPV vaccine?

  • Girls or boys less than nine years of age.
  • Women who are or may be pregnant should not receive the HPV vaccine. They may be vaccinated once they deliver.
  • Anyone who is sick with a fever or has a moderate to severe illness should wait until they feel better to receive the vaccine.
  • Anyone who has an allergic reaction to a previous dose of HPV vaccine (Gardasil®) or is allergic to aluminium or yeast.

Possible side effects of Gardasil :

  • Redness ,tenderness and swelling at the site of injection.
  • Mild fever, nausea, dizziness and headache can also occur.
  • Allergic reactions such as hives, wheezing or swelling of the face and mouth are very rare. If these symptoms occur, seek medical attention right away.

Who can I call for more information?

Call Ottawa Public Health Information at 613 580-6744 (TTY:613 580-9656), toll free at 1-866-426-8885 or visit these additional web site resources:

Health Canada/ Cancer Care Ontario

Public Health Agency of Canada

Phone the AIDS Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437. The Infoline staff provide sexual health information and referral services in several languages to callers from across the province. The line operates from:
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10:30 pm; Week-ends: 11 am to 3 pm

Remember:

Any infection in the genital area may increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV.
Practicing safer sex, by using latex or polyurethane condoms and/or dental dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STIs.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre
179 Clarence Street
Ottawa K1N 5P7
Near the ByWard Market on the corner of
Clarence and Cumberland.
613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656
ottawa.ca/sexuality