January 20, 2020

By WILLIAM WITCZAK

Chances are you listened to a presentation in high school about it and never thought of it again. Or maybe you’ve had the misfortune of contracting one or have a friend who got one. Whether or not it’s on your mind, if you’re sexually active you should be aware of all issues that you face.

Some of you may know them as STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), but the correct term is now STI (sexually transmitted infection), as it’s more encompassing to include infections that may be asymptomatic (show no symptoms). But one thing is for sure, no matter what you call them, you should be aware of them.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, young people between the ages of 15 and 24 have the most STIs, with infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis being some that are on the rise.

“One thing that I’ve noticed over the years is the many common misconceptions among people about STIs,” said Guelph General Hospital nurse Beth Randal.

“Many people are under the belief these infections can only be contracted if you have vaginal sex, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.” This speaks volumes as all three of the infections listed above can be obtained through not just vaginal sex, but through oral and anal as well.

The thing about many STIs is that they don’t always have noticeable symptoms, so a person can spread the infection to many people without even realizing it. “Talk to your partner about your sexual histories, as uncomfortable as that may sound. It’s nothing compared to getting an STI,” said Randal.

“Many STIs can be cured or treated, all it takes is for you to come in and get tested. If you have even the slightest idea that you have an STI please go in and get tested, if not for yourself then for your partners you plan on having. The responsibility is on you,” said Randal.

When asked if there’s one thing she would recommend to anyone who’s about to have sex, Randal said bluntly, “use a condom, use a condom, use a condom.”

For information on STIs check out the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website on STIs at: www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/std-mts/index-eng.php