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Sexually Transmitted Infections

Syphilis cases are on the rise in our area.

Find information about syphilis rates, transmission and testing.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) spread from one person to another through many types of sexual contact. 

Prevention is key; talking about STIs and safer sex with every partner so that you can protect one another. Check that you are up-to-date with vaccinations against Hepatitis and HPV, and use condoms and/or oral dams to protect yourself and your partner. 

Early detection can also help reduce or avoid health complications and can help minimize the spread of STIs to others. Since many STIs don’t show any obvious signs or symptoms, at least at first, it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself and your partner and to get tested regularly. 

Here are the signs and symptoms of STIs, and considerations for prevention, testing and treatment options for each one.

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in Canada. When left untreated, it can lead to painful health problems and infertility.

Chlamydia is transmitted through vaginal, anal and oral sex and can be transmitted from mother to child during childbirth. It is known as the "silent disease" because it is estimated that more than 50 percent of infected males and 70 percent of infected females have no symptoms and are unaware of their condition.

The only reliable way to know if you have chlamydia is to be tested. It is diagnosed through a urine sample or by swabbing the infected area and is treated with antibiotics.

Visit Chlamydia: Public Health Agency of Canada for more information on prevention, symptoms and treatment.

Gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae and is also sometimes referred to as “the clap”. The number of people with gonorrhea infection is on the rise in Canada and has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

It can be passed from an infected mother to her infant during birth. Most women do not develop any symptoms of gonorrhea, but most men do. When symptoms do occur, they might only appear 2-7 days after infection. 

Visit Gonorrhea: Public Health Agency of Canada for more information on prevention, symptoms and treatment.

Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) found in blood and body fluids including vaginal secretions, semen, breast milk and the saliva of infected individuals.

If the Hepatitis B infection lasts for more than 6 months, it is considered a chronic infection. Hepatitis B is a sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection as it can be transmitted through sexual or blood contact (including household members, sexual partners and drug-use partners).

Visit Hepatitis B: Public Health Agency of Canada for more information on prevention, symptoms and treatment.

The Hepatitis C virus can be sexually transmitted and can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis, which is a liver disease. About half of those who become infected with Hepatitis C show no symptoms at the beginning, however symptoms may develop years after infection.

Visit Hepatitis C: Public Health Agency of Canada for more information on prevention, symptoms and treatment. 

Herpes is the most common cause of genital ulcerations, but the infection can be spread even when no symptoms are visible.  

There are two types of the Herpes simplex virus (HSV). HSV-1 is primarily associated with oral infection, and the HSV-2 is primarily associated with genital infection. HSV-2 is present in about 20% of adults and is most commonly transmitted by unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse, and can also be transmitted from the mother to the baby during pregnancy and delivery. 

Visit Herpes: Public Health Agency of Canada for more information on treatment, symptoms and prevention.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body's immune system. While HIV is a manageable chronic condition, if left untreated, it can cause a weakened immune system or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

The number of Canadians living with HIV infection continues to increase. Some people may not develop any symptoms after contracting HIV and could remain undiagnosed until the symptoms of AIDS appear. This could be up to 10 years later.

Visit HIV: Public Health Agency of Canada for more information on prevention, symptoms and treatment.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world today. 

Approximately 75% of sexually active Canadians will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime, with the highest rates of HPV infection occurring in young people aged 15 to 24. 

There are more than 100 known types of HPV with at least 40 that cause genital warts and cancer. Low-risk types of HPV, which cause genital warts, often clear on their own. There are at least 15 cancer-causing HPV types, the most common being HPV types 16 and 18.

Visit HPV: Public Health Agency of Canada for more information on prevention, symptoms and treatment.

Pubic Lice are tiny crab-like insects that nest in pubic hair. They can also be found in chest, armpit and facial hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. Adult insects bite and feed on the blood of their host and lay small eggs (nits) that attach to the shaft of the hair. 

Visit Pubic Lice: Public Health Agency of Canada for more information on prevention, symptoms and treatment.

Scabies are parasitic mites (Sarcoptes scabiei) that burrow below the surface of the skin. 

They lay eggs under the skin to hatch. The larvae then move to a new area to spread infection. Mites prefer warm zones (folds of skin on elbows, wrists, buttocks, knees, armpits, shoulder blades, waist, breasts and penis, between the fingers and under the nails). 

Visit Scabies: World Health Organization for more information on prevention, symptoms and treatment.

Syphilis cases are on the rise in our area.

Learn more at canada.ca/syphilis


Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with an infected partner, including through mutual masturbation and sharing of sex toys. It can spread by direct contact with bacteria contained in syphilitic sores or rashes.

Visit Syphilis: Public Health Agency of Canada for more information on prevention, symptoms and treatment.

Trichomoniasis (“trich”) is an infection caused by Trichomonas vaginalis that can be found in the urethra, bladder, vagina, cervix, or under the foreskin of the penis.  

Men tend to have fewer symptoms than women, and 10-50% of infected people don’t have symptoms.

Visit Trichomoniasis: Public Health Agency of Canada for more information on prevention, symptoms and treatment.

Sexual Health Clinics

The Health Unit provides free Sexual Health Services in the City of Kawartha Lakes, County of Haliburton and Northumberland County.

Access STI testing and treatment through the Health Unit's Sexual Health Services program. Call or go online to book an appointment at one of our clinics. 

Appointments are required, as walk-ins are not currently available.

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