Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

An overview of Providence Health Care’s services and resources for patients living with sexually transmitted infections.


Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a group of diseases that are passed to people during sex or intimate contact. Sometimes they are called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Common STIs include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Genital herpes
  • Genital warts or human papillomavirus (HPV). Certain high-risk types of HPV can cause cervical cancer in women.
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis A, B and C
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • HIV

Bacteria and viruses can cause STIs. Some STIs are passed through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex. Others are passed through skin-to-skin contact.

The number of STI cases in British Columbia (B.C.) is rising, and almost half occur in people under 25 years old.

If left untreated, some STIs can cause serious health problems.

Learn about individual STIs and how to prevent them.

Diagnosis & testing

If you are sexually active, you should know your STI status.

In B.C., STI testing is free and available to everyone.

You should get tested if you have STI symptoms. These include:

  • Pain when you pee
  • Pain during sex
  • Unusual or smelly discharge from your penis or vagina
  • Rash on your hands, feet and torso
  • Sores and bumps on your genitals, mouth or rectum.

Some STIs do not have symptoms. You should also get tested if:

  • You have been sexually intimate with someone who has tested positive for an STI or who shows symptoms of an STI.
  • You have a new sex partner.
  • You are pregnant. STIs in pregnant women can lead to miscarriages or problems in newborns.

Talk to your health care provider at Providence Health Care to learn how to get testing for STIs.

If you do not have a health care provider, testing is available at dedicated sexual health clinics throughout the province.

Confidential testing services are also available in B.C.

There are different laboratory tests for different STIs, including:

Your health care provider will select the STI tests right for you.

Treatment & management

If you test positive for an STI, your health care provider will discuss treatment options with you.

All STIs require medical treatment.

STIs caused by bacteria most often can be cured with the right medicines. STIs caused by viruses are usually chronic. These conditions can't be cured, but special medicines can help you manage them and stay healthy.

Medicines to treat STIs include antibiotics and antivirals.

You also need to let your sex partners know you have tested positive for an STI. This includes your current sex partners and any sex partners you have had in the last few months. They will need to be tested for the STI as well.

Some STIs also need to be reported to B.C. public health. These include chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis A, B and C.

Support services

Support for Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous Wellness Liaison Team is here to support your health journey. Team members offer cultural support and healthcare advocacy. Learn more below or call them at 604-682-2344 ext.62937 or email

  • Indigenous wellness services

    The Indigenous Wellness Team at Providence is available to support Indigenous patients and their families. We are here to coordinate culturally safe wellness supports and services.

Clinical trials & research

Advances in STI treatments are all thanks to medical research. While participating in research is a decision you should make for yourself in consultation with your care team, there is much activity in this area so please ask us about our research programs if you’re interested.

By taking part in research, you can help us all learn more about STIs and find better ways to help people like you live and thrive with the condition. While you cannot assume benefit to yourself, your participation can make a difference in improving care for future patients.

The following clinical trials are currently enrolling volunteers. Please ask your care team for more information or contact the research team listed on each study or trial. For other information about research at Providence Health Care, please visit Providence Research.

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