Santé et Services sociaux Québec

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Questions about STIs

  1. Why have STDs become STIs?
  2. Is an STI always accompanied by symptoms?
  3. How do I protect myself from STIs?
  4. What are the most common STIs in Quebec?
  5. What is LGV?
  6. What is HPV?
  7. What are condylomas?
  8. What is genital herpes?
  9. What is chlamydia?
  10. What is gonorrhea?
  11. What is syphilis?
  12. What is trichomoniasis?
  13. How are STIs transmitted?

Why have STDs become STIs?

STDs, sexually transmitted diseases, have a new name. We now call them STIs, sexually transmitted infections. There is an important reason for this change. The term "disease" is, in general, associated with the presence of symptoms that are symptoms that are evident to the person with the disease. The term "infection," on the other hand, involves two possibilitiest: the infected person detects his or her symptoms, or the infected person detects no signs or symptoms. Thus one can be infected with an STI, and can spread it, without feeling any symptom of disease.

Is an STI always accompanied by symptoms?

Most STIs do not give obvious signs of their presence, and especially not at the beginning of the infection. That is why infected people can unknowingly transmit their infection. When they do appear, the signs of an STI are often very discreet and intermittent — that is, they can appear and disappear.

For more information, consult our brochure STD: Be Aware and Beware.

How do I protect myself from STIs?

Prevention is the best protection against STIs. You have to adopt safe sex practices. The latex condom (male or female) is the best protection against STIs.

For more information, consult our brochure Play it safe

What are the most common STIs in Quebec?

Though HIV is the best-known sexually transmitted infection in the world, infections caused by HPV (human papillomavirus, which often causes genital warts), chlamydia and genital herpes are the most common STIs in Quebec.

For more information, consult our brochure STD: Be Aware and Beware

What is LGV?

Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by Chlamydia trachomatis serotypes L1, L2 and L3. LGV spreads mainly through sexual contact, when there is penetration of the penis into the vagina or anus without condom use. It can also be transmitted when sex objects are shared. It is possible to get LGV through oral sexual contact but this type of transmission is rare.

The infection usually develops in three stages. During the first stage, one or several small sores (papules) appear. They are painless and often go unnoticed. The sores can evolve into ulcers. Most often, the sores appear where the bacteria entered the body (penis, anus, vagina, or the mouth or throat if transmitted through oral sex). The sores disappear after a few days, even if left untreated. A few weeks later, fever, chills, malaise, loss of appetite, and muscle and joint pain can develop. Painful lymph nodes may appear in the groin area (sometimes on both sides) or an inflammation of the anus and rectum may develop, accompanied by rectal pain, a clear discharge (or bloody or pussy discharge) from the anus, and a constant urge to have a bowel movement along with cramps and pain. In most people, the infection resolves without treatment or complications after stage 2.

Finally, if LGV is not treated, the infection can cause serious complications such as swelling and deformity (even destruction) to the genitals or rectum. In rare cases it can lead to meningoencephalitis, hepatitis or death. LGV can increase the risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV, other STI and other blood-borne infections such as hepatitis C. LGV is treated with antibiotics.

For more information, consult the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux LGV brochure.

 

What is HPV?

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a virus that can cause a sexually transmitted infection. HPV includes several types of virus that belong to the same family. Some types of HPV are associated with an increased risk of developing cervical cancer. HPV often shows up as condylomas (genital warts). HPV infection of the uterus is detected most frequently by examining cervical cells using the PAP test — the test currently used to screen for cervical cancer. You can become infected with HPV through contact with the genital organs of an infected person. The majority of women and men infected with HPV show no symptoms. As with other STIs, the use of a condom helps reduce the risk of spreading HPV, though the lesions may be located in areas other than those covered by the condom.

For more information, consult our brochures Cervical Infection Caused by the Human Papillomavirus, Human papilloma virus and condylomata or genital warts,Vaccination against human papilloma virus (HPV) - I've heard about HPV  and the HVP Vaccination Program.
 

What are condylomas?

Also known as genital warts, condylomas are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and are among the most widespread sexually transmitted infections. The infection presents in the form of genital warts (external condylomas), usually visible to the naked eye, on the vagina, penis or anus; more rarely, infected persons have warts in the mouth. This same HPV can also cause an infection of the cervix. Condylomas are not painful and often shrink and disappear without any intervention. But they can also persist and make you feel sick. There are several treatments for genital warts (condylomas). After the treatment, though the condylomas have disappeared, the virus may remain and condylomas reappear.

For more information, consult our brochure Condylomata or Genital Warts

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes, a very common STI, is caused by type-1 or type-2 herpes simplex virus. The type-1 infection shows up most often in the mouth as what is known as cold sores. The cause of the majority of cases of genital herpes, however, is the type-2 virus. The virus is usually transmitted during unprotected sex with a person who does not know that he or she is infected. Contact with the mouth and genitals can present a risk or genital organs, depending on which region is infected. Persons infected for the first time may feel generally sick with fever and aches, and also experience such specific discomforts in the genitals as pain, a burning sensation when urinating, and sores.

The symptoms associated with recurrence of the disease are generally less severe genital symptoms (lesions, burning sensations). Available antiviral treatments only slow down the virus and  must be given as soon as possible after the symptoms first appear.

For more information, consult our brochure Genital herpes

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a bacterium. Infected persons often have no symptoms. But certain signs such as vaginal discharges, abnormal discharges from the penis, a burning sensation when urinating, or pains in lower abdomen or while having sex are indicators of the infection. If not treated, chlamydia can lead to complications. In women, the infection can spread to the uterus and the Fallopian tubes and cause salpingitis, and thus sterility. In men, the infection can reach the testicles and cause pain in the genitals. An antibiotic treatment is available. Remember that the condom remains the best way to reduce the risk of contracting an STI, and that the birth control pill offers no such protection at all.

For more information, consult our brochure Chlamydia.

What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmissible disease caused by a bacterium. An infected person does not always have symptoms, but signs such as abdominal pain, pain while having sex, abnormal vaginal bleeding, a burning sensation while urinating, discharge from the penis, and fever can be indications of the infection. In women, the infection can spread to the uterus and the Fallopian tubes and cause salpingitis, and thus sterility. In men, the infection can reach the testicles and cause pain in the genitals. People with gonorrhea often also have chlamydia at the same time, and are thus treated with antibiotics for both infections. If not treated, gonorrhea can cause serious harm in men as well as women.

For more information, consult our brochure STD: Be Aware and Beware or phone your Info Santé Health Line

What is syphilis?

Syphilis, an infection that can be sexually transmitted or transmitted by blood, causes lesions of the skin and mucous tissues, and develops in three stages. The first stage is characterized by the appearance of lesions (ulcers), usually on the genitals. During the second stage, skin lesions appear on the body (torso, hands, feet) and on the mucous tissues (mouth, glans, vulva, anus). These signs are often accompanied by a flu-like syndrome (fever, fatigue, headache). The third stage occurs after years without any symptoms if the syphilis is not treated. This stage is characterized by neurological, cardiological, digestive, ocular, and psychiatric problems. Syphilis is treated with antibiotics. The treatment varies with the stage of the disease.

For more information, consult our brochures :
STD: Be Aware and Beware

 Transformations, Butterflies, Passions... and All Sorts of Questions - Parents' guide for discussing sexuality with their teens

or visit  the provincial syphilis campaign Web site.

What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection, is caused by a parasite that infects the genitals. In men, these parasites can provoke urethritis or balanitis (inflammation of the glans). In women, they can cause vulvovaginitis with abundant, bubbly vaginal discharges, itchiness, and pain while having sex. Trichomoniasis can be treated with antibiotics.

For more information, phone Info Santé 811

How are STIs transmitted?

Genital warts, genital herpes, syphilis, pubic lice (crabs), and scabies can be transmitted by direct contact, sexual or otherwise, with the lesions of an infected person. You can also contract pubic lice and scabies simply by contact with contaminated sheets, clothes or towels.

Gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital warts, hepatitis B, genital herpes, syphilis, and HIV can be transmitted during vaginal, anal or oral sexual intercourse without a condom with an infected person.

HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis can also be transmitted when people share equipment that has already been used to prepare drugs for injection (cocaine, heroin, steroids, etc). When they inject drugs, users also risk injecting HIV, hepatitis B or C viruses, or the syphilis virus directly into their blood. If needles and equipment used for tattooing or piercing are not new or sterilised, they can also transmit HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis.

Hepatitis A can be transmitted through, among other things, oro-anal (mouth-anus) sexual relations with a person whose stool is infected.

For more information, consult our brochures:
STD: Be Aware and Beware
HIV is still around
If you're using drugs keep a sharp eye out for Hepatitis A, B et C
Condylomata or Genital Warts;
Genital Herpes
Cervical infection caused by the human papillomavirus
Chlamydia 
Hepatitis C - An insidious infection.
Tattoos and Piercing... Protect yourself from AIDS Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C

or visit  the provincial syphilis campaign Web site.