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Sexually Transmitted Infections

A sexually transmitted infection (STI), also known as a sexually transmitted disease, is an infection passed on by sexual intercourse or genital contact. This web page provides information and links to resources about various sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Why is it important to know the signs and symptoms of an STI?

Some STIs, if left untreated, can go on to cause  Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) in females and other problems in males.

Here is a list of the common infections and whether they can be prevented through vaccinations, treated and cured, treated and controlled, or have no cure at all. Some infections are not sexually transmitted such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast.

Vaccination to Prevent Cure with Medication Treat & Control No Cure
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea   
  • Bacterial Vaginosis   
  • Trichomoniasis   
  • Yeast   
  • Scabies & Pubic Lice   
  • Syphilis  
  • Herpes  
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)  

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When should I go to a doctor or nurse to be checked out?

You should have yourself examined if:

  • You have had unprotected sexual intercourse.
  • You are starting a new relationship, and you and your partner want to be sure that you are both free of STIs.
  • You have been in a relationship for awhile and you and your partner have decided to stop using condoms.

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Where can I go to get tested?

  • Your family doctor
  • Walk in clinic
  • Sexual Health Clinics where testing and treatment are free and confidential.

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How and when does the testing get done?

  • Gonorrhea and Chlamydia
    • It is recommended to wait 2 - 14 days after exposure depending on the type of testing being done.
    • Urine tests can be done on males and females, but it must be 1 - 2 hours since the last time you voided for the test to be accurate.
    • Swabs can also be done to the throat or cervix (more accurate in a female than urine).
  • HIV/ Syphilis/ Hepatitis A, B, C
    • It is recommended to wait 14 weeks (3 months) for testing for these infections.
    • Testing is done by screening the blood.
  • Herpes
    • Screened by swabs if there is a visible sore.
    • More accurate if done during the first 24 - 48 hours of the ulcer starting.
    • Serology testing (blood work) can also be done, but costs $150.
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
    • There is no screening for HPV except for visual appearance of warts.

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How do I know if I have an STI?

The difficulty with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is that often there are no signs or symptoms.

Here are some signs and symptoms of possible infections that you should have checked with a family doctor or Sexual Health Clinic:

  • A new or different discharge from the vagina (might be the colour, amount or smell)
  • Burning when urinating
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Pain or bleeding with intercourse
  • Itching in the genital area
  • Sores or small cuts in the genital area
  • Visible changes in the skin or warts


  • Discharge from the penis (may actually see it at the tip of penis or you may notice it in your underwear)
  • Itchy feeling inside the penis
  • Burning when you urinate
  • Pain or swelling in the testicles
  • Sores or small cuts in the genital area
  • Visible changes in the skin or warts

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How do I notify my sexual partners about my infection?

If you test positive for an STI, it is important to tell any recent partners, so they can be assessed, treated and have an opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed.

Partner notification can happen in 3 ways.

  1. You can choose to notify the partner(s) yourself, however the Halton Region Health Department requires verbal confirmation from the identified partners.
  2. You can choose to have the Health Department notify your partner(s) for you anonymously.
  3. Or, your doctor may agree to help you with the process.

For more information about sexually transmitted infections, visit our web page of frequently asked questions .

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