Sexually Transmitted Blood Borne Infections (STBBI)

What is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)?

A Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is an infection that can be passed through vaginal, oral or anal sex. Most STIs are transmitted through the exchange of sexual fluids, but some can be passed through skin to skin genital contact or through contact with blood and other bodily fluids.

AIDS and HIV

Download HIV Factsheet (PDF)

What is HIV?

HIV is an infection that can weaken a person’s immune system and their ability to fight infections. Over time, this can lead to people becoming sick or seriously ill. Symptoms of HIV can include sore muscles, feeling tired, night sweats, sore throat, fever, weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, but generally, people have no symptoms at all.  

When HIV is in the body for a long time without any treatment, it can lead to the most serious stage called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). During this stage, the immune system is so weak that rare infections and cancers may develop.

How does someone get HIV?

HIV is found in blood, semen (including pre-ejaculate), vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, and breast milk of people living with HIV.

The main ways to pass HIV between people are by:

  • Having anal or vaginal sex without a condom
  • Sharing needles/syringes used to inject drugs (including steroids)

Other ways to pass HIV between people include:

  • Having oral sex without a condom or dental dam
  • Sharing sex toys
  • Sharing drug equipment, like cookers, filters, pipes, etc.
  • Sharing needles, ink or jewellery for tattoos, body piercings or body modifications
  • Sharing acupuncture needles
  • Pregnancy, childbirth or breast/chestfeeding

* Having a bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI), like chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis, can increase the risk of getting HIV. Regular testing for all STIs is an important part of safer sex.

HIV in not passed through:

  • Shaking hands
  • Hugs or kisses
  • Coughs or sneezes
  • Toothbrushes, utensils, etc.
  • Toilet seats or water fountains
  • Insects or animals
How do I practice safer sex?
  • Use an internal or external condom, every time you have vaginal and/or anal sex
  • Use an external condom or dental dam every time you have oral sex
  • Use water-based or silicone-based lubricants
  • If you share sex toys, cover the toy with a condom and clean after each use
  • Get tested for STIs regularly 
How do I practice safer drug use?
  • Use new equipment every time you inject, including needles, syringes and all other supplies (like cookers, filters and water)
  • Never share equipment with anyone, including your sex partner(s)
  • Access safe injection sites for new equipment and care
What is HIV PrEP?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is the use of HIV medications by HIV-negative persons to prevent getting HIV infection. PrEP involves taking medication every day and seeing a provider every three months for follow-up and testing. Speak to your healthcare provider about access to PrEP. You can also obtain additional information on PrEP from Ottawa Public Health or by visiting GayZone. For more information, go to www.thesexyouwant.ca/prep

What is HIV PEP?

Post-exposure prophylaxis. (PEP) is the use of HIV medications by HIV-negative persons after a known or potential exposure to HIV. This medication must be started within 72-hours and is taken every day for 28-days total. PEP can be accessed at any Emergency Department or at the Ottawa Public Health Sexual Health Clinic. For more information, go to www.thesexyouwant.ca/pep

How do I get tested for HIV?

The only way to be tested for HIV is through a blood test done 6-12 weeks after having sex or sharing drug equipment.

What happens if I have a positive test result?         

  • You will be contacted by a public health nurse (PHN) who will provide you with resources, counselling, support, and information to help guide your care, including linking you to an HIV provider, community services, and/or social workers.
  • The PHN will also help you notify your sexual and/or drug-equipment sharing partners so that they can be tested and receive support as well.
  • People living with HIV can access medication that will help to reduce the level of virus in their blood. This can reduce the chance of passing the infection to other partners.
  • People living with HIV must disclose their HIV status to all partners before having sex or sharing needles/drug equipment. For further questions/support about disclosure, please go to the HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic Website, HALCO, at www.halco.org  or call 416-340-7790.

Call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help.

 For more information:

  • PEP, PrEP, HIV/STI: thesexyouwant.ca
  • STI testing, birth control: www.sexandu.ca
  • HIV legal services: www.halco.org or call 416 340-7790
  • HIV information: www.catie.ca call 1-800- 263-1638.
  • Sexual Health Clinic

    179 Clarence St, Ottawa. ON

    613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656

     

    The Site Harm Reduction Program 

     

    Site Office (Needle & Syringe and Supervised Consumption Services)

    179 Clarence St

    Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

    613-580-2424 ext. 29047

    9am-9pm daily

     

    Site Van- Mobile harm reduction services

    5pm-11:30pm daily

    613-232-3232 (collect calls accepted)

    Visit Harm Reduction Services In Ottawa for more information on local resources 

Balanitis
 

Download Balanitis fact sheet (PDF)

What is balanitis?

Balanitis is an inflammation of the foreskin or head of the penis. Balanitis is a common condition that mostly affects those who are uncircumcised. Although it can be painful, it is not a serious condition. It is usually relieved using topical medication.

What causes balanitis?

  • The main cause of balanitis is poor hygiene. Poor hygiene can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast, which can cause an infection. The foreskin of the penis is an ideal place for bacteria and yeast to grow.
  • Irritation caused by personal products such as:  
    • Scented soap to clean the penis
    • Bar soap that dries out the skin
    • Scented lotions or sprays on the penis
  • Medication you are taking may cause balanitis as a side effect, such as:
    • Laxatives, sleeping pills, painkillers and antibiotics
  • Less common causes of balanitis are:
    • Reactive arthritis
    • Uncontrolled diabetes
    • Sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes and gonorrhea 
Signs and symptoms of balanitis
  • Redness, irritation and soreness of the head of the penis or under the foreskin
  • Itching or burning in the affected area
  • A white or yellowish thick, clumpy secretion from under the foreskin
  • Painful skin on the penis
  • Swelling can put pressure on the urethra, causing painful urination 
How is balanitis diagnosed?

Balanitis can be diagnosed by a visual exam of the genital area.

How is balanitis treated?
  • If you have a yeast infection, you may be advised to use an antifungal cream such as clotrimazole. Apply the cream to the affected area two to three times daily for 10 days. Your health care provider may also recommend a prescribed antifungal treatment, in a cream or pill form.
  • If you have a bacterial skin infection, you may be advised to use an antibiotic cream and to keep the area clean and dry.
  • Avoid using irritants such as perfumed soap, lotion, or powder as these products may further irritate the foreskin.
Are there any consequences to balanitis?
  • Early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to reduce your chances of developing complications including:
    • Scarring in the penis opening
    • Painful foreskin retraction
    • Inadequate blood supply to the penis
    • Allergic dermatitis (allergic skin reaction)
How to prevent balanitis
  • Good hygiene
  • Avoiding using irritants such as perfumed soap, lotion, or powder to prevent further irritation of the foreskin
  • Completely drying the penis after you shower

For more information:

Call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help.

Sexual Health Clinic
179 Clarence St,
Ottawa. ON K1N 5P7

613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656

Chlamydia 

Download fact sheet (PDF)

What is Chlamydia?

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

How is it transmitted?
Chlamydia is transmitted during unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with an infected partner.
What are the symptoms?

Most people do not experience any symptoms. This means you can transmit the infection without knowing you have it. Testing is the only way you will know if you have chlamydia. If symptoms do occur, they usually appear two to six weeks after becoming infected.

  • A change in vaginal discharge
  • Burning with urination
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Bleeding after sex or other abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Rectal pain or discharge
  • Watery or milky discharge from the penis
  • Burning or itching around the tip of the penis
  • Pain or swelling in the testes

How do I get tested?

  • A urine test can detect an infection in the genital area.
  • A health care provider may collect a swab from the cervix, urethra, throat or rectum.
How is it treated?
  • Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics.
  • Do not have sex for seven days after treatment.
  • Your partner(s) needs to receive treatment and wait seven days before having sex again.
  • You can be re-infected after treatment. 
Possible Complications:
  • 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 mothers who are infected with chlamydia could have severe eye infections or infant pneumonia
  • Infection of the testes

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 oral dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections and blood borne infections (STBBIs). 

Call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help. 

For more information:

www.sexandu.ca

Sexual Health Centre

179 Clarence Street

Ottawa K1N 5P7

613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656 

Epididymitis

Download fact sheet (PDF)

What is epididymitis?

Epididymitis is an inflammation of the epididymis, which is a tube that stores and transports sperm from the testes.
How is it transmitted? 

It may be caused by a variety of bacteria, some of which may be sexually transmitted.

What are the symptoms?

One or all of the following symptoms may occur:

  • Gradual feeling of pain or tenderness in one testicle
  • Swelling, redness or a lump in the affected testicle
  • Fever
  • Urethral discharge (discharge from the penis)
  • Blood in the semen

How is it treated?

Epididymitis is treated with antibiotics. It is important to finish all the medication. To ensure that the medication is working and your symptoms are improving, you should return to the clinic at the time requested by your health provider. Do not have any sexual activity during treatment.

Can I give epididymitis to other people?

The bacteria that causes epididymitis can be transmitted through sexual activities. You can pass the infection to your partner(s) even when there are no symptoms.

Encourage your partner(s) to be tested before resuming any sexual activity.

Are there complications?

If untreated, epididymitis can lead to:

  • Abscess in the scrotum
  • Chronic epididymitis
  • Infertility (the inability to produce sperm)

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 oral dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of Sexually Transmitted and blood borne Infections (STBBIs).

For more information:

Please consult these sources: www.sexandu.ca

Call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help. 

Sexual Health Clinic
179 Clarence St,
Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656

Genital Herpes (HSV) 

Download fact sheet (PDF)

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 blisters or sores on the mouth or genitals.
  • 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 symptoms

  • 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

Recurrent outbreaks

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.

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 oral dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBIs).

Call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help.

For more information:  www.sexandu.ca

Sexual Health Centre

179 Clarence St, Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656

 

Genital Warts and Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Download fact sheet (PDF)

What are genital warts?
Genital warts are lesions that are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an extremely common virus with over 100 strains or types. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted and blood borne infection (STBBI) in Canada. Up to 75 per cent of people will come in contact with this virus during their life. Many people are able to clear the infection within two years.

How is it transmitted?

HPV is transmitted by skin-to skin contact, often through sexual contact.

What are the symptoms?

There are usually no symptoms and people do not know they have HPV. If symptoms develop, it may take two to three months, or even years, for them to appear.

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.

How do I get tested?

There is currently no routine diagnostic test for HPV in Canada. 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. Aldara, Vyloma, Condyline)
  • Laser treatment or minor surgery, which are 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?

Condoms can help prevent the spread of HPV, but they do not provide full protection. An HPV vaccine is also available to protect against the most common strains of HPV. This vaccine is being given to students in grade 7 in Ontario schools and
persons assigned male at birth 9 to 26 years old (who meet high risk eligibility criteria), who are immunocompromised or immunocompetent HIV infected. In some circumstances, this vaccine may also be prescribed for adults who did not receive the vaccine in school. Discuss with your health care provider if this vaccine is appropriate for you.

Possible complications:

Some types of HPV can cause cancer of the cervix, as well as other rare cancers of the penis, vulva, anus or throat. HPV types that cause genital warts are unlikely to cause cancer.

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 oral dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STIs. 

Call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help.

For more information:

www.sexandu.ca

Sexual Health Centre

179 Clarence Street

Ottawa K1N 5P7

613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656

Gonorrhea 

Download fact sheet (PDF)

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.

  • Thick yellowish vaginal, penile and/or rectal discharge
  • Burning with urination
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Vaginal pain and/or bleeding during intercourse
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Rectal pain and/or discharge
  • Sore throat
  • Burning and/or itching around tip or inside of the penis or around the anus
  • Pain and/or swelling in the testes
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 them 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:

  • 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 who are infected with gonorrhea could have severe eye infections or infant pneumonia
  • Infection of the testes
  • Rarely causes infertility

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 oral dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infections (STBBIs).

Call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help.

For more information:

www.sexandu.ca

Sexual Health Centre

179 Clarence St,

Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656

Hepatitis A
 

Download fact sheet (PDF)

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A (hep A) is a contagious virus that affects the liver. Hep A can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting months. The virus is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that cause inflammation and affect your liver's ability to function properly.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?

People infected with hep A can have a variety of symptoms. Some people do not get sick at all but they can still spread the infection to others. Often people with hep A develop the following symptoms 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus:

  • Fatigue (feeling tired)
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Dark urine, pale stools
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Symptoms are often mild, typically lasting one to two weeks. In severe cases, the symptoms can last several months. For pregnant women, hep A is more serious and can be fatal, particularly for women in their third trimester.

There is currently an approved vaccine for hep A. Once vaccinated you are immune for life. If you have already had the virus, your body has developed a natural immunity. 

How does someone get hepatitis A?

The hep A virus is spread from person to person through contact with infected feces (stool). People can carry the virus without showing any symptoms, then spread it to other people, foods or surfaces. Most commonly, the virus spreads through:

  • Sexual contact with an infected person (oral – anal contact)
  • Sharing needles and drug paraphernalia
  • A contaminated food handler
  • Hands that are not washed properly after using the restroom or helping someone use the restroom
  • Contamination during harvest, manufacturing and processing of food
  • Persons travelling to countries where hep A is common

Food sources of hep A include:

  • Contaminated water
  • Raw or undercooked shellfish
  • Raw fruits and vegetables
 How do I get tested for hepatitis A?

A blood test is used to diagnose hep A.  This blood test can reveal if an individual currently has hep A, has had hep A in the past (resolved) or has previously received the vaccine.  

What is the treatment for hepatitis A?

There is no medication to treat hepatitis A. Most people are sick for about 1 to 2 weeks and then recover, while others may develop more serious illness. It is important to see your healthcare provider if you think you might be sick with hepatitis A. After recovering from the illness, a person is considered immune and protected against hepatitis A in the future.

How do I protect myself from hepatitis A?

The following tips will help protect you and your family from hep A:

  • Talk to your doctor about getting a hepatitis A vaccination
  • Wash your hands after using the restroom and changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food
  • When travelling, especially to developing countries:
    • Only drink commercially bottled water or boiled water
    • Avoid ice cubes in drinks
    • Eat only freshly cooked food
    • Avoid non-peelable raw fruit or vegatables
  • Cook food to a safe internal temperature using a digital thermometer
  • If you think you have been exposed to hep A, see your physician immediately. Vaccination can prevent the onset of symptoms if given within two weeks of exposure
  • If you’ve been exposed to hep A, or any other gastrointestinal illness, do not prepare food for other people

How do I practice safer sex?

  • Use an internal or external condom, every time you have oral, vaginal and/or anal sex
  • Use water-based or silicone-based lubricants
  • If you share sex toys, cover the toy with a condom and clean after each use
  • Get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) regularly 
 How do I practice safer drug use?
  • Use new equipment every time you use, including pipes, needles, syringes and all other supplies (like cookers, filters and water)
  • Never share equipment with anyone, including your sex partner(s)
  • Access Needle and Syringe Programs or Supervised Consumption Services for new equipment and harm reduction services

For more information:

  • Canadian Liver Foundation - www.liver.ca, or call 1-800-563-5483
  • Health Canada www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
  • Ontario Ministry of Health - www.hepcontario.ca
  • www.catie.ca (Canada’s source of HIV and hepatitis C information) or call their toll-free telephone line at 1-800-236-1638
  • Call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help.
  • www.sexandu.ca

Sexual Health Clinic

179 Clarence St,

Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656

 

The Site Harm Reduction Program 

Site Office (Needle & Syringe and Supervised Consumption Services)

179 Clarence St

Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

613-580-2424 ext. 29047

9am-9pm daily

Site Van- Mobile harm reduction services

5pm-11:30pm daily

613-232-3232 (collect calls accepted)

 

Visit Harm Reduction Services In Ottawa for more information on local resources

Hepatitis B 

Download Hepatitis B fact sheet (PDF)

What is Hepatitis B?

  • Hepatitis B (hep B) is a virus that affects the liver. Someone can live with hepatitis B for a long time (20-30 years) before they develop any symptoms, feel sick, or see any sign of liver damage. Without testing, treatment or follow-up from a provider, the liver can become scarred and cause people to become ill.
  • Hepatitis B can be very common in certain parts of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, parts of Central and South America.

 What are the symptoms?

Most people have no signs or symptoms of hepatitis B.  People who have hep B may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue (feeling tired)
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Dark urine, pale stools
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite
How does someone get Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is passed through blood, semen (pre-ejaculate), vaginal fluids, rectal fluids and saliva from someone who has the virus.  The main ways that hep B is passed between people are:

  • Anal or vaginal sex, oral sex, sharing sex toys
  • Maternal transmission (during pregnancy or childbirth)
  • Sharing needles/syringes or other equipment used to inject drugs (such as cookers, filters, etc) or equipment to snort or smoke drugs such as stems, bills/straws, etc
  • Tattoos, body piercing/modifications, acupuncture, manicures or pedicures where non-sterile equipment is used
  • Sharing personal hygiene articles such as razors, toothbrushes or nail clippers
  • Medical/surgical procedures where infection prevention and control practices are inadequate

 Hepatitis B cannot be passed through:

 Shaking hands

  • Hugs or kisses
  • Coughs or sneezes
  • Food or water
  • Sharing eating utensils
  • Breastfeeding
How do I get tested for hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is diagnosed with a blood test.  This blood test can reveal if an individual currently has hepatitis B, has had hepatitis B in the past (resolved) or has previously received the vaccine.  Most tests are accurate within four weeks of exposure but some people may take as long as 3 to 6 months to test positive. You may be encouraged to return for repeat testing.

What happens if I have a positive hepatitis B result? Your body may clear the virus on its own without treatment within the first 6 months: the majority of adults are able to clear the virus and develop lifelong immunity.  However, the majority of infants and children who contract hepatitis B will develop chronic hepatitis B. 

  • There is no cure for hepatitis B but there are treatment options that can help prevent further damage to your liver.
  • To reduce the risk of passing the hepatitis B virus on to your baby, you doctor will ensure that your baby receives an immune globulin injection and hepatitis B vaccine at birth
  • Your healthcare provider or public health nurse will provide you with resources, counselling, support, and information to help guide your care, including linking you to community services and/or social workers.
  • Your healthcare provider or a public health nurse will help you notify household contacts, sexual and/or drug-equipment sharing partners to encourage them to be tested for hepatitis B, assess their immune status and/or provide vaccine protection to those who are not immune.  They can get free hepatitis B vaccination through Ottawa Public Health.
How do I keep my liver healthy?
  • Decrease or eliminate alcohol, drug and/or tobacco use
  • Get vaccinated for Hepatitis A
  • Talk to your healthcare provider/pharmacist before starting new medications or natural remedies 
How do I practice safer sex?
  • Use an internal or external condom, every time you have vaginal and/or anal sex

  • Use water-based or silicone-based lubricants

  • If you share sex toys, cover the toy with a condom and clean after each use

  • Get tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) regularly
How do I practice safer drug use?
  • Use new equipment every time you inject, including needles, syringes and all other supplies (like cookers, filters and water)

  • Never share equipment with anyone, including your sex partner(s)

  • Access Needle and Syringe Programs or Supervised Consumption Services for new equipment and harm reduction services

 For more information:

  • Canadian Liver Foundation - www.liver.ca, or call 1-800-563-5483
  • Health Canada www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
  • Ontario Ministry of Health - www.hepcontario.ca
  • www.catie.ca (Canada’s source of HIV and hepatitis C information) or call their toll-free telephone line at 1-800-236-1638
  • Call the AIDS and Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help.
  • www.sexandu.ca

 

Sexual Health Clinic

179 Clarence St,

Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656

 

The Site Harm Reduction Program 

Site Office (Needle & Syringe and Supervised Consumption Services)

179 Clarence St

Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

613-580-2424 ext. 29047

9am-9pm daily

Site Van- Mobile harm reduction services

5pm-11:30pm daily

613-232-3232 (collect calls accepted)

 

Visit Harm Reduction Services In Ottawa for more information on local resources

 

Hepatitis C 

Download Hepatitis C fact sheet (PDF)

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C (hep C) is a virus that affects the liver. Someone can live with hepatitis C for a long time (20-30 years) before they start to develop any symptoms, feel sick, or see any sign of liver damage. Without testing, treatment or follow-up from a provider, the liver can become scarred and cause people to become ill. Hepatitis C can be very common in certain parts of the world, such as Central, East and South Asia, Australasia and Oceania, Eastern Europe, sub Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East.

 What are the symptoms?

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

  • Fatigue (feeling tired)
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Dark urine, pale stools
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite
How does someone get Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is passed through blood-to blood-contact with someone who has the virus.

The main ways that hepatitis C is passed between people are:

  • Sharing needles/syringes or other equipment used to inject drugs, such as cookers, filters, stems, bills/straws, etc
  • Having received blood and/or blood products, or immunoglobulin before 1992
  • Tattoos, body piercing/modifications, acupuncture, manicures or pedicures where non-sterile equipment is used
  • Sharing personal hygiene items such as razors, toothbrushes or nail clippers
  • Maternal transmission (during pregnancy or childbirth)
  • Condomless sex where there is a higher risk of blood transmission, such as anal sex, rough sex, party and play, menses, etc
How do I get tested for hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is diagnosed with a two-step blood test: an antibody and an RNA test. Within 6 months after becoming infected, almost everyone has antibodies in their blood that can be measured by the hepatitis C antibody test. If antibodies are found, an RNA test is ordered to determine if you currently have the hepatitis C virus. Hep C antibodies will remain positive in the blood for life, even after somebody has cleared the virus. Even if someone clears the virus (on their own or with treatment), they can get hepatitis C again.

What happens if I have a positive RNA result?

Hepatitis C is a treatable infection.  About one in four (25%) people clear hepatitis C without treatment, but most people need treatment to cure hepatitis C. If your RNA test is positive, you will be referred to a hepatitis specialist. Treatment is usually 3 months long and decided with your specialist.  

How do I keep my liver healthy?
  • Decrease or eliminate alcohol, drug and/or tobacco use
  • Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
  • Talk to your healthcare provider/pharmacist before starting new medications or natural remedies 
How do I practice safer sex?
  • Use an internal or external condom, every time you have vaginal and/or anal sex
  • Use water-based or silicone-based lubricants
  • If you share sex toys, cover the toy with a condom and clean after each use
  • Get tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) regularly
How do I practice safer drug use?
  • Use a new needle/syringe and other drug equipment every time you use drugs
  • Never share equipment with anyone, including your sex partner(s)
  • Access safe injection sites for new equipment and care

 For more information:

 

Sexual Health Clinic

179 Clarence St,

Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656

 

The Site Harm Reduction Program 

Site Office (Needle & Syringe and Supervised Consumption Services)

179 Clarence St

Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

613-580-2424 ext. 29047

9am-9pm daily

 

Site Van- Mobile harm reduction services

5pm-11:30pm daily

613-232-3232 (collect calls accepted)

Visit Harm Reduction Services In Ottawa for more information on local resources

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:

  • 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

Secondary stage:

  • 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

Tertiary stage (more common in women):

  • 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
613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656

Molluscum 

Download fact sheet (PDF)

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 1 to 3 months after you are exposed to the virus. The virus can
last on your body from 6 months to 2 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-colored 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.
  • The bumps can last from 6 months to 2 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 6 to 12 months. Very rarely, bumps will stay up to 2 years. Molluscum can be treated by freezing with liquid nitrogen or applying a prescription cream.

How do I get tested?

A health care professional diagnoses molluscum after examining the skin.

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 oral dams for anal, oral or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted or blood borne infections (STBBIs).

Call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help.

For more information on molluscum, please consult this website: www.sexandu.ca

Sexual Health Centre

179 Clarence St,

Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656


 

Mucopurulent Cervicitis (MPC)

Download fact sheet (PDF)

What is mucopurulent cervicitis (MPC)?

Mucopurulent cervicitis (MPC) is an inflammation of the cervix that may be caused by a variety of bacteria and/or viruses which may be sexually transmitted.  Symptoms may take 1 to 6 weeks to develop after exposure.

How is MPC transmitted?

Most bacteria and/or viruses that cause MPC can be transmitted during oral or vaginal sex.

What are the symptoms?

Most people do not experience symptoms. If symptoms occur, they can be:

  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Painful intercourse
  • Bleeding between periods or after intercourse
  • Long or heavier periods

How is MPC treated?

MPC is treated with antibiotics. Do not have any sexual contact during treatment and for 7 days after treatment. Encourage your partner(s) to be tested before resuming any sexual activity. You can be re-infected after treatment.

Possible complications:

If left untreated it may cause:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) (an infection in the fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries)
  • Infertility (inability to get pregnant)
  • Ectopic pregnancy (tubal pregnancy)

Call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help.

For more information on mucopurulent cervicitis, visit: www.sexandu.ca

Sexual Health Clinic
179 Clarence St,
Ottawa, ON K1N5P7

613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656

Non-Gonococcal Urethritis (NGU)

Download fact sheet (PDF)

What is non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU)?

Non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU) is an inflammation of the male urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body) with or without urethral discharge. NGU can be caused by a variety of bacteria, including chlamydia but not by gonorrhea. Less common causes are viruses. 

How is it transmitted?

Most bacteria and/or viruses that cause NGU can be transmitted during oral, vaginal and anal sexual contact.

What are the symptoms?

Many people do not experience symptoms. If symptoms occur, they can be:

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Itching, irritation and redness around the tip of the penis
  • Burning with urination

How is NGU treated?

  • NGU is treated and cured with antibiotics.
  • It is important to abstain from any sexual contact during treatment and for 7 days after treatment.
  • Encourage your partner(s) to be tested before any sexual activity.

Possible complications

If untreated, the bacteria causing NGU may lead to epididymitis (an infection of the tubes that store sperm from the testes) and prostatitis (infection of the prostate).

Call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help.

For more information on the non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU), visit: www.sexandu.ca

Sexual Health Clinic
179 Clarence St,
Ottawa. ON K1N 5P7

613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) 

Download fact sheet (PDF)

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

  • Lower abdominal pain or cramping
  • Increased or abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sex
  • Bleeding between periods or after sex
  • 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 sex while you are on treatment.
  • Encourage your partner(s) to get tested.
Can I give PID to other people?

Bacteria and/or viruses that cause PID can be sexually transmitted. 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)

Remember:

Call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help. 

For more information on pelvic inflammatory disease, please consult this website:  www.sexandu.ca

Sexual Health Clinic

179 Clarence St,

Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656

Pubic Lice and Scabies 

Download Pubic Lice/Scabies fact sheet (PDF)

Pubic Lice

Pubic lice, also known as crabs, are parasites that attach to body hair, often in the pubic area.  They can also be found in chest, armpit and facial hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. The lice are the size of a pencil dot and are greyish brown in color, making it difficult to see with the naked eye. Lice will lay their eggs at the base of the hair; these nits (eggs) are white or tan in color. Symptoms may appear two to six weeks after infestation.

The following symptoms can be present:

  • Severe itching that can be worse at night
  • Skin irritation, redness, and inflammation
  • Small blue spots can appear where the lice have bitten
  • Visible eggs or lice

Scabies

Scabies are mites that infest the skin; they are invisible to the naked eye. Female scabies will lay eggs under the surface of the skin. Symptoms may appear two to six weeks after infestation.

The following symptoms can be present:

  • Severe itching, especially at night
  • Skin irritation, redness and inflammation that usually appear between fingers and toes, wrist, underarm and the genital area.

How are pubic lice/scabies infestations diagnosed?

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

How is pubic lice/scabies 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.
  • 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 2-3 weeks prior to having symptoms must be dry-cleaned or washed in hot soapy water. 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?

Pubic lice and scabies can be transmitted during sexual activity or other skin-to-skin contact. They may also spread by sharing clothing, towels or bedding with someone who is infested. Condoms do not prevent the spread.

When can I have sex again?
Sexual activity can be resumed when there are no sign or symptoms and sexual partners have been treated.

For more information, please consult:

Sexual Health Centre

179 Clarence St,

Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656

Syphilis 

Download Syphilis fact sheet (PDF)

What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum. A syphilis infection has three stages with different symptoms connected to each stage. It is common that an infected person will not notice any symptoms but when syphilis is in the body for a long time without any medication, it can lead to serious health problems.

How is syphilis passed?

  • Through direct sexual contact (oral, genital, anal) or contact with a contagious lesion or rash
  • To an infant during pregnancy or delivery
  • Rarely transmitted through sharing drug equipment
What does syphilis look like?

Primary Stage:

  • Appearance of a sore or sores in or around the mouth, genitals and/or anus 

Secondary Stage:

  •  A rash on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or the entire body
  • Swollen and/or enlarged glands that may last one to six weeks before going away on their own

  • Flu-like symptoms (headache, muscle and joint pain, loss of appetite, fever)

  • Patchy hair loss 

Latent Stage:

  • During this stage, there may not be any signs or symptoms, but the infection can still be passed on to a partner

Tertiary Stage:

If syphilis has not been treated, it may cause serious health problems to someone’s heart, brain, liver, bones and eyes.

How do I get tested?

A blood test is used to test for syphilis 4-6 weeks after having sex.

What happens if I have a positive test result?

  • You will be contacted by a public health nurse who will provide you with resources, counselling, support, and information.
  • Syphilis is treated with antibiotics.
  • Your partner(s) should be tested and treated before you have any sexual activity.
  • Once you have been treated for syphilis, you will need to go for blood tests to make sure the medication worked.
  • Even though a person is treated and cured, some of the blood tests for syphilis may remain positive for life.
  • When seeing a new health care provider, it is important to let them know if you have had treatment for syphilis.
How do I practice safer sex?
  • Use an internal or external condom, every time you have vaginal and/or anal sex
  • Use an external condom or dental dam every time you have oral sex
  • Use water-based or silicone-based lubricants
  • If you share sex toys, cover the toy with a condom and clean after each use
  • Get tested for STBBIs regularly

For more information:

 

Sexual Health Clinic

179 Clarence St,

Ottawa. ON K1N5P7

613-234-4641 | TTY: 613-580-9656

 

GayZone Clinic

420 Cooper St. Ottawa, ON

www.gayzonegaie.ca

Trichomonas Vaginitis 

Download fact sheet (PDF)

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

What is bacterial vaginosis (BV)
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an overgrowth of the normal vaginal bacteria commonly found in sexually active individuals. BV is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can appear and disappear with your period. Symptoms include:

  • White or grey vaginal discharge
  • Fishy odor from the vagina
  • Mild vaginal itching or burning can occasionally occur
How do I get tested?
Swabs are taken from the vagina. BV can be diagnosed by a health care provider based on symptoms.
How is it treated?
BV is treated with antibiotics. If you do not have symptoms, treatment is not necessary unless you are pregnant or are planning to have a gynecological procedure such as an intrauterine device (IUD) insertion or an abortion.
How can I prevent bacterial vaginosis?

Some individual will continue to get BV regularly. However, here are some tips that may help:

  • Avoid douching and using other hygiene products such as sprays, scented soaps, tampons and pads
  • Using condoms may decrease BV recurrence
Are there complications?
During pregnancy, BV may increase the risk of premature rupture of the membranes, Pre-term delivery and having a low birth weight baby.

Yeast Infection

What is a yeast infection?
A yeast infection is an overgrowth of normal flora that can be found on the skin, in the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus and the vagina. A yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Anyone can develop a yeast infection. Yeast infections and having an overgrowth of yeast are not serious conditions. 
What are the symptoms?
  • White, watery or thick discharge from the vagina
  • Vaginal itching and/or soreness
  • Redness and/or burning on the vulva
  • Burning when urine touches the vulva
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Red spots with whitish patches or a rash on the glans (head), foreskin and/or shaft of the penis
  • Dry, flaky and/or itchy skin of the penis
  • Redness, swelling and/or irritation of the genital area
How do I get tested?
If you have a vaginal yeast infection, swabs are taken from the vagina or penis. Yeast infections can be diagnosed by a health care provider based on symptoms, but it is best to have a swab taken to ensure it is not any other infection or STI.
How is it treated?
Only yeast infection symptoms need to be treated. Overgrowth of yeast is treated with antifungal medication. The following medications can be purchased at pharmacies without a prescription:
  • Vaginal cream, tablets or suppositories inserted in the vagina
  • Antifungal cream that is applied to the genital area
  • Oral medication
How can I prevent yeast infections?
  • Avoid douching and using hygiene products such as sprays, scented soaps, tampons or pads, and bath products.
  • Avoid clothing that can trap moisture and alter the vaginal environment, such as pantyhose, synthetic underwear and other tight fitting clothing. It is recommended to wear cotton underwear.
  • Factors that contribute to yeast infections are hormonal changes (pregnancy, menstruation and birth control pills), diabetes, antibiotics and oral sex.
Trichomonas
What is trichomonas?
Trichomonasis vaginalis (also known as trich) is a parasite that can live in the vagina and 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?
  • Fishy odour
  • Frothy yellowish vaginal discharge
  • Itching and redness of the vulva and/or vagina
  • Burning with urination
  • Slight discharge from the penis and discomfort while urinating
How do I get tested?
Trichomonasis is diagnosed by a health care provider based on symptoms;  swabs are taken from the vagina or penis to confirm.
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.

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 oral dams for oral, anal or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBIs).

Call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 1-800-668-2437 if you have questions or need help.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre
179 Clarence Street
Ottawa K1N 5P7

613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656  

 

Contact Us