Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

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What are sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be spread from person to person and are caused by over 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Some are spread by skin-to-skin contact and others through semen, vaginal fluid, blood or other body fluids.

What is my risk?

STIs are present worldwide. The risk depends on behaviours while travelling rather than the region or country you visit.

Risk is higher among travellers who engage in:

How are they transmitted?

What are the symptoms?

Can sexually transmitted infections (STIs) be treated?

Management and treatment vary depending on the sexually transmitted infection. Some STIs can be cured while others can be life-long infections.

Early detection and treatment are important to help prevent long-term health effects and reduce the spread of infection.

Where are sexually transmitted infections (STIs) a concern?      

STIs occur worldwide. Some STIs, such as haemophilus ducreyi (chanroid), are not common in Canada, but are common in other parts of the world.

For more information on STIs worldwide, visit the World Health Organization (WHO).


Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

The most effective way to avoid becoming infected with or transmitting an STI is to avoid sexual activity or other activities where bodily fluids are exchanged. You can reduce your risk by following the recommendations below.

1. Practice safer sex:

2. Talk to your health care provider or visit a travel health clinic to discuss the benefits of getting vaccinated against:

3. Avoid behaviour which may increase your risk of STIs, such as:

4. Avoid injections, blood transfusions and organ transplantations unless it is an emergency:

5. Be aware of sexual violence:

6. Get tested and monitor your health

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