What is a STI?

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection that spread from one infected person to another through sexual intercourse (vaginal, oral, or anal sex). STI’s can affect anyone who is sexually active regardless of race, nationality, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation and economic status.

What are the symptoms of an STI?

Many STI’s have no symptoms or only mild symptoms.

When symptoms are present, you can expect the following

  • Pain on passing urine
  • Discharge from the penis in men or abnormal discharge from the vagina in women
  • Swelling or pain of the testicles. (Gonorrhea and Chlamydia)
  • Sores / ulcers in the genital area or around the anus
  • Swellings in the groin (Herpes and Syphilis)
  • Warts in the genital area, anus or mouth (HPV)

What should you do if you have signs or symptoms?

  • Consult your Healthcare Provider and get tested / screened for STI’s
  • Your healthcare provider will prescribe treatment to you based on your laboratory results
  • Communicate your results with your sexual partner. Your healthcare provider may advise that your partner/s need to be tested and treated
  • Follow-up laboratory tests may need to be done, depending on the type of STI that you have been diagnosed with

People with these symptoms should seek medical help immediately!

STI’s can be prevented

Use condoms, talk with your partner, practice abstinence, get vaccinated, get tested, limit sexual partners


  • Having unprotected sex (without a condom) vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has an STI
  • During touching / kissing a person who has sores in the mouth or genital area
  • Having unprotected sex (without a condom) vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has an STI
  • If you are sexually active and <25 years of age
  • If you are older than 25 years of age and have multiple sexual partners or have a new sexual partner
  • You are a man having sex with another man
  • You are HIV+ or at risk for HIV (e.g., having sex without a condom)
  • You engaged in sexual activity against your will
  • You shared needles while doing drugs

Your healthcare provider will either draw blood, take a swab or if you are a woman do a PAP smear, or both a swab and blood will be drawn and sent to the laboratory. For certain tests, a urine sample may also be requested. A self-swab with instructions may also be offered by your healthcare provider, which allows you to test in the comfort of your own environment.

Once a year

  • Gonorrhoea
  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • HIV (if you are not already known to be positive)
  • Hepatitis B ( if not previously vaccinated)
  • Syphilis

Less often in women

  • HPV


Possible later complications

Vaccine available

Gonorrhea Infertility No
Chlamydia trachomatis Infertility No
Herpes simplex virus Repeated episodes of painful blisters on the genitals No
Hepatitis B Scarring of the liver / liver cancer Yes
Syphilis Damage to the bones, liver, nerves, brain and eyes No
HPV Cervical cancer Yes