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– Sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections – 

Risk factors

Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of being exposed to some extent to an STBBI. Factors that can increase this risk are:

  • Unprotected sexual contact. If there is vaginal or anal penetration and the infected partner does not use a condom, the risk of STBBI infection increases dramatically.

  • Improper use of condoms can also increase the risk. Oral sex can be less risky, but infections can be transmitted without a condom or dental dam (a thin piece of latex or silicone, also used in dental offices to isolate teeth, which can be used to prevent skin-to-skin contact).

  • Sexual contact with several partners. The greater the number of partners, the greater the risk of STBBI. It is valid both for simultaneous partners and for consecutive monogamous relationships.

  • Forced sex or forced sexual activity. The experience of rape is traumatic. No matter how difficult it is for you, it is important to see a specialist as soon as possible for screening, treatment, and emotional support.

  • Alcohol or drug abuse. Drug addiction can inhibit judgment and thus predispose to risky behavior.

  • Injectable drugs. Dividing needles spreads many serious infections, including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

  • Young age. Half of STBBIs affect people aged 15 to 25.

Sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) are infections transmitted through sexual contact. They are caused by various bacteria, parasites, fungi and viruses.

Screening for STBBIs is important because a person can have an infection without knowing it (in most cases, there are no signs or symptoms).

This is why there are sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) because you can get an infection without showing symptoms of the disease.

There are more than 20 types of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs), the most common being:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis B
  • Syphilis
  • HIV

Most STBBIs affect both men and women, but in many cases they can be more serious in women. If a pregnant woman has an STBBI, the disease can cause serious problems to the fetus.

Appropriate condom use greatly reduces, but does not completely eliminate, the risk of contact or transmission of a STBBI.


  • Bacteria (gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia)
  • Viruses (hepatitis B, HIV)

Mother-to-fetus transmission

Some STBBIs – gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, and syphilis – can be passed from an infected mother to the fetus during pregnancy or childbirth. Diseases in newborns can cause serious problems and can be fatal. All pregnant women should be tested and treated for these infections.


Symptoms of sexually transmitted infections are not always obvious. If you think you have symptoms or have been exposed to a sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection, see our clinic.

Some STBBIs are easy to treat and cure, others require more complex treatment.
It is essential to be assessed and, if you are diagnosed with an STBBI, to receive appropriate treatment. It is also essential to inform your partner (s) so that they can be assessed and treated. Left untreated can cause infertility, organ damage, certain types of cancer, or death.

Asymptomatic STBBI

Many STBBIs have no symptoms (they are asymptomatic). But, even if there are no symptoms, you can pass the infection on to your sexual partner. It is therefore important to use protective means during sexual intercourse (condom). You can consult us for a screening, in order to detect and treat the infection before transmitting it.
Some diseases, such as hepatitis B, can also be transmitted without sexual contact, with sufficient contact with the blood of the infected person. Other diseases, like gonorrhea, can only be transmitted through sexual contact.

Chlamydia - Symptoms

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection of the genital tract.

Chlamydia can be difficult to detect because infection at an early stage is often asymptomatic.

Signs and symptoms appear 1 to 3 weeks after exposure to chlamydia. Even when they do occur, the manifestations are often mild and transient, and can easily go unnoticed – chlamydial infection is also called a “silent infection”.

Signs and symptoms of chlamydia infection:

  • Pain when urinating
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Vaginal discharge (in women)
  • Penile leakage (in men)
  • Sexual pain (women)
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Testicular pain (men)

Gonorrhea - Symptoms

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection of the genital tract. It can also develop in the mouth, neck, eyes, and anus. The first symptoms usually appear within 10 days of exposure, but in some cases it may take several months for them to appear.

Signs and symptoms of gonorrhea:

  • Thick, cloudy, or bloody discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods
  • Inflamed and painful testicles
  • Intestinal transit with pain
  • Anal itching

HIV - Symptoms

HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV affects the body’s ability to fight viruses, bacteria and fungi. HIV causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), a chronic disease that can be life threatening.

At the first stage of infection, there may be no symptoms. Some people develop flu-like symptoms, usually 2 to 6 weeks after infection. The test is the only way to know if you have been infected with HIV.

Early signs and symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Inflamed lymph nodes
  • Skin rash
  • Tired

These first signs and symptoms usually go away within 1 to 4 weeks and are often misinterpreted as another viral infection. During this period, you are very contagious. More persistent or more severe symptoms of HIV infection may appear more than 10 years after infection.

As the virus multiplies and destroys immune cells, you develop mild infections or have chronic signs and symptoms such as:

  • Inflamed lymph nodes – often one of the first signs of HIV infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Weightloss
  • Fever
  • Cough and difficulty breathing

The last stage of HIV infection:

  • Persistent and unexplained fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Chills or fever above 38 ° C for a few weeks
  • Inflamed lymph nodes for more than 3 months
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Persistent headaches
  • Unusual infections

Hepatitis - Symptoms

Hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are contagious viral infections that affect the liver. Hepatitis B and C are the most severe.

Some people never develop any signs or symptoms. In the case of those who develop them, they appear a few weeks after exposure and can include:

  • Tired
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the liver area, in the upper right quadrant, under the ribs
  • Poor appetite
  • Fever
  • Dark urine
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Itching
  • Yellowing of the skin and sclera (white part of the eyes) – jaundice

Syphilis - Symptoms

Syphilis is a bacterial infection. The disease affects the genitals, skin, and mucous membranes, but can also affect other parts of the body, including the brain and heart. The signs and symptoms of syphilis progress in 4 stages – primary, secondary, latent and tertiary.

There is also congenital syphilis – the disease is transmitted from an infected pregnant woman to the fetus. Congenital syphilis can be a crippling, life-threatening disease for the newborn baby, so it becomes important that the infected pregnant woman receive treatment.

Primary syphilis

The first signs of syphilis, which occur 10 to 90 days (incubation period) after exposure, may be a small, painless lesion called a chancre – these appear on the side of the body where the infection was transmitted – usually on genitals, rectum, tongue or lips. The appearance of a single lesion is typical of primary syphilis, but multiple lesions can occur.

Usually the lesions heal without treatment, but the infection remains in the body and may recur in a secondary or tertiary stage.

Secondary syphilis

Signs and symptoms begin 3 to 6 weeks after the onset of the chancre and may be:

  • Red or reddish-brown rash, the size of small coins, that appears on the body, including the palms and soles
  • Fever
  • Inflamed lymph nodes
  • Fatigue and feeling of discomfort
  • Skin pain and tenderness

These signs and symptoms may go away without treatment within a few weeks or reappear and go away repeatedly over a year.

Latent syphilis

In some people, the secondary stage may be followed by a period called latent syphilis – during which no symptoms are present. Signs and symptoms are absent and the disease can progress to the tertiary stage.

Tertiary syphilis

If left untreated, the syphilis bacteria (Treponema pallidum) can spread and cause serious organ damage and death.

Signs and symptoms of tertiary syphilis can be:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Blindness
  • Dementia
  • Neurological problems

At any of the stages, syphilis can affect the nervous system.


Consult to check if you think you have any of these sexually transmitted infections (STBBIs) or if you have been exposed. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to avoid or delay serious or life-threatening health problems and to avoid infecting others. Since many people do not have symptoms at an early stage, screening for STBBIs is important to prevent complications.

Possible complications:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Complications during pregnancy
  • Eye inflammation
  • Arthritis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Infertility
  • Heart disease
  • Certain cancers, such as cervical cancer associated with HPV

Screening and diagnosis

Consult to check if you think you have any of these sexually transmitted infections (STBBIs) or if you have been exposed. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to avoid or delay serious or life-threatening health problems and to avoid infecting others. Since many people do not have symptoms at an early stage, screening for STBBIs is important to prevent complications.

Types of tests done to diagnose an STBBI:
  • Blood tests. Blood tests can confirm the diagnosis of HIV or the late stages of syphilis.
  • Urine test. Some STBBIs can be confirmed by urine.
  • Other secretions and other fluids. If you have active genital lesions, the secretion test may be done to diagnose the type of infection. Laboratory tests that analyze biological samples are used to diagnose an STBBI.
Get your annual screening tests if:
  • You are a sexually active woman and you are under 25 years old
  • You are a woman over 25 and at risk for STBBIs – for example, having sex with a new partner or multiple partners
  • You are a man and you have sex with men
  • You have HIV
  • You have been forced to engage in sexual activity of any kind against your will
  • Screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea is based on either a urine sample or a secretion sample taken from the penis or cervix, which are then analyzed in the laboratory. Screening is important because if you don’t have any signs or symptoms, you may not know you have the infection.
Request tests for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B if:
  • You test positive for another STBBI, which increases your risk
  • You have had more than one sexual partner (or your partner has had more than one partner) since the last test
  • You use intravenous drugs
  • You are a man and you have sex with men
  • You are pregnant or planning a future pregnancy
  • You have been forced to engage in sexual activity of any kind against your will
  • The doctor tests for syphilis by taking a sample of blood or a secretion from genital lesions. The sample is analyzed in the laboratory. The blood sample is taken to test for HIV and hepatitis B.
Recommended indications for screening:
  • The patient reports any genital symptoms: tingling, leakage, bleeding, the appearance of any genito-inguinal, scrotal, perianal lesion
  • Clinical examination targets all genital or anal lesions
    Non-inflammatory / inflammatory inguinal lymphadenopathy
  • Sexual contact with a person suspected of having an STBBI
  • Pregnant women who have been previously diagnosed with syphilis with or without treatment
  • Screening for syphilis, HIV and hepatitis B for all pregnant women – the test is done 3 times / duration of pregnancy (in the absence of a positive result): in trimesters 1, 2 and 3
  • Early pregnancy screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea in at-risk pregnant women, with repeat testing as needed, to protect the health of mothers and newborns.
  • Any patient diagnosed with syphilis with / without treatment
  • All people aged 13 to 64 should be tested for HIV at least once
  • Annual chlamydia screening for all sexually active women under 25, as well as women over 25 with risk factors – multiple sexual partners or a single partner with an STBBI
  • Annual gonorrhea screening for all sexually active women under 25, as well as women over 25 with risk factors such as multiple sexual partners or a single partner who has an STBBI.
  • Screening for syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea at least once a year for all sexually active men – gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men. If they have multiple or occasional partners, they should get tested more frequently (every 3 to 6 months).
  • Gay and bisexual men may be tested for HIV more often (every 3 to 6 months)
  • People who have unprotected sex or share injecting drug equipment should be tested for HIV at least once a year.

What does it mean when you receive a positive result?

If the test is positive, the next step is to consider further investigation and follow treatment as prescribed. In addition, inform your sexual partners. They need to be assessed and dealt with.



Early vaccination, before the onset of sex, is also effective in preventing certain types of STBBI. Vaccines are available against HPV, hepatitis A and hepatitis B. We recommend the HPV vaccination for girls and boys aged 11 and over. If they are not fully vaccinated at 11 and 12, we recommend that they receive the vaccine before the age of 26. The hepatitis B vaccine is usually given to newborns and the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended at 1 year of age. Both vaccines are recommended for people who are not immune to these diseases and for people at high risk of infection – men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs.

Consistent and correct use of condoms

Use a new condom for every new act of sex, whether oral, vaginal or anal. Never use oil-based lubricants, such as petroleum jelly, with a condom. Condoms with natural membranes are not recommended because they are not as effective at preventing a sexually transmitted infection. Keep in mind that although condoms reduce the risk of exposure to most STBBIs, they offer a lower level of protection against a sexually transmitted infection that involves genital damage, such as those caused by HPV or HPV. herpes.

In addition, barrier-free contraceptive methods, such as oral contraceptives or intrauterine devices, do not protect against STBBIs.

Moderate alcohol use and drug avoidance

If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you are more likely to take sexual risks.


Before any serious sexual contact, talk to your partner about safe sex. Get explicit agreement on what activities may or may not be acceptable.


Circumcision has been shown to help reduce the risk of contracting HIV from an infected woman by up to 60% (heterosexual transmission). Circumcision can also help prevent the transmission of genital HPV and genital herpes.


Sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections caused by bacteria are usually easier to treat. Viral infections can be managed, but not always cured. If you are pregnant and have an STBBI, immediate treatment can prevent or reduce your baby’s risk of infection.


Antibiotics, often in a single dose, can cure many bacterial or parasitic infections, including gonorrhea and chlamydia. You will usually be treated for gonorrhea and chlamydia at the same time, as the two infections occur together.

Once you have started antibiotic treatment, it is very important that you follow it completely. If you think you will not be able to take your medicine as prescribed, let us know. Shorter or simpler treatment may be available. In addition, it is important to abstain from sexual relations until the end of the treatment and the healing of all lesions.

Partner inform

If the tests show the presence of a sexually transmitted infection, the sexual partner – the current partner, but also any other partners you have had in the past 3 to 12 months – should be informed so that they can be tested and treated if infected. The regulations require that certain STBBIs be communicated to the central or local Public Health Departments.


You will have fewer recurrences of herpes if you take daily suppressive therapy with a prescribed antiviral medicine. Antiviral drugs reduce the risk of infection, but it is possible to pass herpes to your partner.

Antiviral drugs can keep HIV under control for many years. But the virus persists and can be transmitted, although the risk is less.

The sooner you start treatment, the more effective it will be. Once you have started treatment – if you take the medicine exactly as recommended – it is possible to reduce the presence of the virus in the body to undetectable levels.

If you have had an STBBI before, ask us when you should be tested again. By doing this, you make sure that the treatment has worked and that you have not been re-infected.


132, Boulevard Jacques Bizard
L'Île-Bizard (Québec) H9C 2T9

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