Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Blood Borne Infections (BBIs)

What are Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Blood Bornes Infections (BBIs)?

STBBIs are sexually transmitted and blood borne infections that can pass from one person to another through the blood and other body fluids during sexual contact. For example, Hepatitis B and C, HIV, and syphilis are blood-borne infections.Test your knowledge on Sexually Transmitted Infections with this quiz!

What are Bacterial Infections

Bacterial sexually transmitted and blood borne infections are caused by bacteria passed from person-to-person during sexual activity. Bacterial infections can be cured using medications. If they are not treated, they may lead to long term complications. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are all bacterial infections.

What are Viral Infections

Viral sexually transmitted and blood borne infections are caused by viruses being passed from person to person during sexual activity. Viruses can be treated and managed. Herpes, Hepatitis A, B, C, HPV, and HIV are all viral infections. Vaccinations against viruses are available, and can prevent some viral infections including Hepatitis A, B, and HPV.

See below for more information.

Chlamydia under a microscope
Chlamydia

Chlamydia is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria, and it is the most common reportable STBBI in Canada. 

Gonorrhea cell under a microscope
Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae and used to be referred to as “the clap”.

Syphillis cell under a mircoscope
Syphillis

Syphilis is caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. Rates of syphilis cases in Canada have significantly increased in recent years.

Cell under a microscope
Herpes (HSV)

Herpes may cause sores on the genitals or mouth. The infection can be spread even when no symptoms are visible.

Microscopic view of HPV virus
Genital Warts (HPV)

Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), it is the most common STBBI in the world today.

HIV virus cell under a microscope
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the body’s immune system and can develop into Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Microscopic view of Hepatitis virus
Hepatitis A, B and C

Hepatitis is a liver disease that is caused by a virus. Hepatitis A and B are vaccine-preventable infections. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. 

Cell viewed under a microscope
Other infections

And so many more...

FAQs on Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infections (STBBIs)

Should we use the acronym STI, BBI or STBBI?

Today, we use the acronym STBBI, which stands for Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infection. Some infections can be spread through sexual contact or through contact with contaminated blood.

How can I get an STBBI?

You can get an STBBI through sexual contact or through sharing of drug use equipment (ex. dirty needle, cookers, pipes). Genital warts or genital herpes can pass from one person to another through direct skin-to-skin contact of the genitals (ex. dry humping, grinding). If you become sexually active, you and your partner should both get tested.

Can I get a STBBI from a toilet seat?

Nope! You cannot get a STBBI from a toilet seat. The only objects that can spread STBBIs are shared sex toys. Always wash your sex toys before and after each use.

Can I get a STBBI from kissing?

Most STBBIs are not spread through kissing. Avoid kissing people with visible sores. Cold sores are a type of the herpes virus that is often spread through kissing someone who is infected.

How do I protect myself from getting an STBBI?

The best form of protection against an STBBI is the use of a condom. Another way you can protect yourself is by practicing "mutual monogamy," which means that you and your partner both agree to only have sexual contact with each other.

You can also talk with your partner about sex, pregnancy, and STBBIs to ensure you both are on the same page. Don’t forget to ask your doctor about getting a vaccination for Hepatitis A, B and HPV.

Remember, use of drugs and alcohol can lead to making risky decisions about sex.

Should I be Tested?

If you are sexually active you should get tested. You should consider getting tested every time you have sex with a new partner, prior to sexual contact, at your regular check ups, and if you have symptoms such as pain during sex, sores, bleeding after sex, abnormal discharge, and/or mid-cycle bleeding. It is important to remember that many infections do not have any symptoms.

My partners say they are "clean," should I still get tested?

Yes! If you or your partner is sexually active, then you should get tested. Many STBBIs do not produce visible symptoms, and your partner may not be aware they have an STBBI. Make a date and get tested together! Check out our express testing service, Test & Go. 

Why use a Condom?

Safer sex is the best type of sex you can have. Whether you’re having oral, vaginal, or anal sex, using a condom means you decrease your risk of getting a STBBI. Remember, someone can have a STBBI and have no symptoms. Visit our Condoms/Dental Dams page to learn more!

Did you know?

  • You can get STBBIs from genital-to-genital contact.
  • Younger females are biologically more susceptible to STBBIs.
  • An infected mother can pass an STBBI to her baby during a vaginal birth.
  • STBBIs are contagious, and any sexually active person can get them.
  • People can be re-infected if they have sex before their treatment is complete, or if their partners are untreated.
  • Just because you have had a STBBI before doesn't mean you won't get one again. 

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