STI Transmission

There must be an exchange of body fluids or skin-to-skin to contact in order to transmit most STIs. STIs  cannot be caught through casual social contact such as shaking hands or hugging.

Ways STI are spread:

  • Sexual transmission (genital-anal, genital-genital, oral-genital/anal)
  • Skin-to-skin contact (i.e., kissing, non-penetrative sex, body rubbing)
  • Mixture of infectious body fluids (blood, anal fluid, genital fluids)
  • Sharing of needles and other drug paraphernalia and needle stick injuries
  • From a pregnant person to unborn fetus, or to infants during vaginal* delivery or through breast milk
  • Infestations (scabies and pubic lice) can also be transmitted through shared clothing, bedding, linens etc.

Risk of getting an STI – what are my chances?

In order for someone to best assess their comfort in engaging in sexual activity, it helps to be aware of the possible risk of different types of sexual activities. there is no simple answer to this question, your risk depends on many factors including the type of sex you are having and the status of your partner (s) the following resources from BC Center for Disease control may help you in determining your risk:

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)

In British Columbia some people are eligible to receive medications to help reduce their risk in getting HIV. PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, meaning you take a medication before any exposure (sex or needle sharing to decrease the chance of HIV infection). PrEP is a strategy used by HIV negative people to reduce their risk of becoming HIV positive.

For more information PrEP, please see the patient info sheet from the BC Center for Excellence in HIV and AIDS.

STI: Resources

General STI info

  • British Columbia Center for Disease Control: Smart Sex Resource
  • CATIE: Canada Source for Hepatitis and HIV information

STI Transmission & Risk

  • Health Initiative for Men: Know Your Risk This resource offers users the opportunity to  enter information about the types of sex they are having to help assess the risk level. This is a resource geared towards men who have sex with men (MSM).
  • The Risk Thermometer This resource shows Low Risk to High Risk sexual activities, and is a largely text based resource, and has many links that may help clarify or explain any information readers are unfamiliar with. This is an American resource so access to testing may be different for Canadians. 
  • Smart Sex Resource: Know Your Chances This is a BCCDC resource and provides information in a chart format, and information on the charts has been reviewed by British Columbia-based STI experts. 

STI info for Trans and Non-Binary People

Sexual Partner(s) living with an STI

Have a question about sexual health?