Look and feel healthy? Here’s the thing – if you are sexually active and haven’t been tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), you may not be. Sex HealthSTIs are on the rise in York Region. In 2016, 2,299 chlamydia cases were reported in York Region, up from 1,861 in 2014 and 2,061 in 2015. Rising numbers mean raising awareness of the importance of STI testing for all sexually active individuals.

STIs can be present in your body for a long time without showing symptoms. If left untreated, they can lead to long-term complications such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease. The only way to confirm if you have an STI is to get tested.

Getting tested can also help prevent co-infections. Having more than one STI at the same time increases the risk of acquiring human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during sexual intercourse with an infected person. For people living with HIV, the risk of infecting others with HIV increases when they are co-infected with another STI. This is why testing for all STI infections, including HIV, is so important—it can help stop the spread of STIs.

York Region Public Health encourages regular STI testing at least every six months when starting a new relationship, if you have STI symptoms or after unprotected sexual activity. Testing can be done at a walk-in clinic, family doctor or at any York Region sexual health clinic.

York Region’s six sexual health clinics offer a wide range of services including:

  • Testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections
  • HIV testing
  • Low-cost birth control

Clinic services are provided in a confidential and non-judgmental setting. Services are available by appointment, and at no cost to York Region residents of all ages and sexual orientation. You don’t need a health card to access these services.

Remember that STIs and the complications of untreated infections can be prevented by using condoms, and even if you have no STI symptoms, you should still get tested. For more information, please contact Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653, TTY: 1-866-512-6228 or visit york.ca/sexualhealth

Sources and additional information:

http://www.catie.ca/en/pif/spring-2012/stis-what-role-do-they-play-hiv-transmission

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12649059

Written by the Public Health Branch, Community & Health Services Department