Algoma Public Health


  • Facebook
  • Email


Most STIs are caused by bacteria or viruses that are passed from one person to another during sex or intimate contact. Some STIs are also caused by parasites such as pubic lice or scabies. Others, such as bloodborne STIs, can be passed through the sharing of personal or drug related equipment.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can affect the general health, well-being, and reproductive capacity of those infected. Many untreated STIs can also transfer from an infected parent to a newborn during childbirth.

Participation in risky sexual behaviours such as unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners can increase your chances of acquiring an STI. Many STIs show no symptoms at all or may be mistaken for other things. It is important to get tested, so you can become aware of any STIs and receive the appropriate treatment.




There are many effective ways to protect yourself from getting an STI:

  • Use condoms, such as internal/external or dental dams during vaginal, anal or oral sex
  • Check if you are up to date with the immunizations that can protect you from certain STIs (Hepatitis A, B and HPV). You may be eligible to receive these vaccines free of charge – speak with your healthcare provider or our immunization team to see if you qualify
  • Get routine testing
  • Talking with your partner about when the last time they were tested and if you have any signs or symptoms of STIs, keeping in mind many are not always visible
  • Discuss if either you or your partner are having other sexual partners
  • Discuss if either of you are sharing any personal or drug related equipment (e.g., needles) that may put you at risk 

Testing and Treatment

Just like mental and physical health, sexual health is an important part of overall well-being. It is important to get tested for STIs routinely if you are sexually active. The type of STI testing needed is based on symptoms and risk factors. Speak with your healthcare provider about what type(s) of sex you are having so they know which specific tests you need to have done.

Full routine testing includes: chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis C.

Testing may involve a blood and urine sample. In some cases a swab of the throat, vagina, rectum or urethra, or of a bump/lesion may be required.

Many STIs have no symptoms and can cause serious health problems if left untreated. It’s important to access testing routinely or whenever there is a concern.

When you should get tested:

  • Before you have a new sexual partner
  • If you or your partner(s) have sex with other people
  • Every 3-6 months if you or your partner are having sex with other people or whenever there is a concern
  • If you notice any symptoms (pain/burning when peeing, bumps, rash, discharge)
  • Condom broke/slipped off or no condom was used during sex (oral, vaginal, anal)

Places to receive STI testing:


Treatment for some sexually transmitted infections is available if you test positive for an STI or are contact of someone with an STI. Treatment and management of the infection will be discussed with your health care provider or Public Health Unit. Most STIs can be treated and cured with medication. Some treatments can also help reduce symptoms or future outbreaks (i.e. antivirals for herpes).  For HIV, medications are available to help people live longer healthier lives.


Free treatment is available through Algoma Public Health with a valid prescription.


 Updated: February, 2024