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Sexuality Education Resource Centre

Sexually transmitted infections

Ate Anna:

Can you please tell me about sexually transmitted infections? What can I do to protect myself?

A Reader

Dear Reader:

Great question! A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an illness that can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact.

Some STIs are spread when infected body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal or anal fluids get passed to another person during vaginal, oral or anal sex. Other STIs are spread by touching an infected area of skin, or by sharing personal body items such as needles.

There are many kinds of sexually transmitted infections. Some STIs can be cured with antibiotics or special lotions. Examples of curable STIs are chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

Unfortunately, some STIs are viruses and do not have cures; people who have them will need to manage their illness throughout their life with medication and other strategies. Examples of some viral STIs are herpes, genital warts, and HIV.

Many people who have STIs show symptoms like rashes, sores or pain in their genital area. However, many others who have an STI do not have symptoms. This is why it is important for people who are sexually active to get tested regularly.

STI testing is free with your Manitoba Health Card, and can be done with regular health care provider. If you do not feel comfortable asking for a test, you can get STI tests at any community health centre, or at many walk-in clinics. Klinic and Nine Circles Community Health Centre each have special STI clinics designed to make you as comfortable as possible.

An STI test includes providing a urine (pee) sample, a blood sample, and sometimes a swab of the genital area or a visual inspection. If you have questions about these, you can ask the person giving you the test to answer them for you.

Most tests take a few days to get the results. If STIs are found, your health care provider will contact you to discuss this. You can tell them how best to contact you. They take privacy very seriously, and will only contact you in the ways you have asked. If an STI is found, they will talk to you about treatment and management options.

For some STIs, the health care provider will need information from you about your past sexual partners; this is so they can be contacted and advised to go for testing themselves. In these cases, your name will never be used when they contact your past sexual partners.

You can reduce your chances of getting an STI by using safer sex supplies, including condoms, sex dams or gloves. Information on how to use these correctly can be found on our website at

Thank you for your question!
Ate Anna

Ate Anna welcomes your questions and comments. Please write to: Ate Anna, Suite 200-226 Osborne St. N., Winnipeg, MB R3C 1V4 or e-mail: Visit us at for reliable information and links on the subject of sexuality.

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