Sexually transmitted and blood-borne diseases

Some diseases (chlamydia, for instance) are sexually transmitted (STDs),  while other are blood-borne and sexually- transmitted infections (STBI), such as the human immunodeficiency virus (AIDS/HIV).

STD symptoms

At the beginning, signs of the disease may be difficult to detect. People with the disease may potentially transmit their infection without knowing it. When signs appear they are often discrete and intermittent.

How do you get an STD?

Genital warts, genital herpes, syphilis and crabs can spread through direct contact, sexual or through the lesions of an infected person. Crabs are mainly passed on through contact with contaminated sheets, clothing or towels. Gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital warts, hepatitis B, genital herpes, syphilis and AIDS/HIV can be transmitted during vaginal, anal or oral sex without condoms.

People who share injection equipment for drug use (cocaine, heroin, steroids, etc.) can also contract AIDS/HIV, hepatitis B and C and syphilis. Used or unsterilized needles for tattooing and piercing may also be contaminated with these viruses. Hepatitis A can be passed on through infected feces (oral-anal sex).

How can we protect others and ourselves?

Adopting safe sexual practices and using latex condoms are the best way to protect against STDs. Vaccination is also an effective and safe way to prevent hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV).

There is also free screening & testing offered by the CLSC’s Integrated Screening and Prevention Service (SIDEP) to those who do not have symptoms. Generally speaking, these tests are usually done using a urine sample, genital secretions or blood samples. For symptomatic individuals, a medical consultation and testing is required in order to begin appropriate treatment.

If you have STDs, it is important not only to get treatment, but also to inform your sexual partner(s) so that they can also be  treated and screened. All treatments for STDs are free for both the infected person and their partner(s).

What are the most common STDs in Quebec?

While AIDS/HIV is the most commonly known sexually transmitted infection worldwide, in Quebec the most frequent  are chlamydia, genital herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV).

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is one of the most common STDs. Most people with genital herpes do not have signs or symptoms and are unaware that they are infected. In fact, there is currently no test for asymptomatic people who are infected.

Once contracted, the disease remains for life. However, some measures reduce the risk of genital herpes transmission. The Genital Herpes Information Guide answers several questions about this highly complex disease.

To know more