Sexual Health Through Education
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a kind of virus called a retrovirus. HIV causes the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) by killing important cells in your immune system. These cells protect you against bacteria, viruses and cancers. After many years of HIV infection,these cells in your immune system may no longer be able to fight infections or prevent cancer cells from growing.There is no cure or vaccine for the HIV infection. Advances in treatment can slow the progression of HIV to AIDS and can help prolong the lives and improve the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS but a person must take this treatment for life. Having another sexually transmitted infection, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis or herpes makes your body more open to infection with HIV.
More about HIV / AIDS...
There are many kinds of sexually transmitted infections. STIs are caused by bacteria, parasites or viruses.
Some STIs can be cured with antibiotics or special lotions.;
Examples of curable STIs are:
Most viral infections are not curable. However, there are medications which can be taken to slow the progress of some viral STIs, help ease the symptoms, pain or discomfort caused by an STI or reduce the number or the likelihood of recurrance of sores or warts.
Examples of viral STIs are:
It is important to know that you can be infected with an STI and have NO SYMPTOMS
Some symptoms or signs of an STI are:
You may have only one symptom at a time or several together, or none at all. Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have an STI but if you are sexually active, see a health care provider for a medical exam and ask to be tested for STIs.
The only sure way to prevent getting most STIs is: Do not have vaginal, oral or anal sex that involves contact with bodily fluids (blood, semen, vaginal or anal secretions). Herpes and HPV can be spread by skin-to-skin contact. Sharing affection by hugging, kissing, touching and massage are safer ways to be intimate with your partner.
There are now two HPV vaccines authorized for use in Canada: Gardasil and Cervarix.
There are vaccines to prevent infection with hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
There is no vaccine available to prevent infection with HIV.
Limiting the number of sexual partners you have will decrease your risk of getting an STI. When you have a new sexual partner, in order to reduce your risk, both you and your partner should be tested for STIs and agree to have sex ONLY with each other.
If you have vaginal or anal intercourse, use a lubricated latex male condom or a female/internal condom every time to protect against STIs. It is important to use condoms consistently and correctly.
If you have oral sex, using condoms or an oral dam (square of latex) decreases the risk of getting an STI for both partners, regardless of who is giving or receiving. A non-lubricated condom on the penis or an oral dam against the anus or the vulva (woman’s genitals) prevents contact with body fluids. If you do not have an oral dam, make one from a condom. Cut the condom from the rim to the centre of the reservoir tip, and unroll it. Spread it open with both hands and place it over the area of contact.
If you get a tattoo or piercing, be sure that you go to a licensed shop.
Using alcohol or drugs can make it difficult to use a condom or dam and may make it more likely that you will not use protection. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs can slow down sexual response so that sex is not as enjoyable and may make it more difficult for a male to get or keep an erection. You may end up having sex with someone you wouldn’t normally have chosen to be with.
Prevention is important. Talk to your partner about using condoms. Keep some condoms with you and where you usually have sex. It is your responsibility to protect yourself and your partner from becoming infected.
If you are having sex, even if you have no symptoms of an STI, you should be tested at least once a year. You will need to ask to be tested for an STI since this is not a routine part of a yearly physical exam. You should be tested more often if you have multiple partners, have unprotected sex or have symptoms. When you are in a new sexual relationship, both you and your partner should be tested for STIs.
There are different types of tests for STIs.
Testing may include:
If you are diagnosed and treated for an STI, be sure to follow your health care provider's treatment and follow-up recommendations. Your health care provider will ask you about about your previous sexual contacts. You can easily be reinfected if your partner is not treated.
Remember: all information is confidential and private. You do not need a partner’s or parent’s permission to get free, confidential STI testing.
1-800-782-2437 in the rest of Manitoba
anal sex – a man’s penis is put into the anus of another person
oral sex – the mouth is touching another person’s penis, vagina or anus.
vaginal sex – a man’s penis is put into a woman’s vagina
visual inspection – look at