A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control

About STIs

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My chances

Your chances of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) depend on a few things. First, your partner or partners need to have an STI. Second, you and your partners need to have some kind of sexual contact to pass on the STI. Third, the kind of sex you are having and whether or not you use protection affects the chances of passing on an STI.

Know your chances of getting or passing on an STI with different kinds of sex.

1. Do you or your partners have an STI?

If you or your partners have an STI, it could be passed on during sex or intimate contact. Often people with an STI do not have any symptoms and are not aware that they have an infection. It is easy to pass an STI to others without knowing it.

Some people try to avoid having sex with people they think might have an STI. How someone looks or what people say about a person is not an accurate way to tell if someone has an STI. Having STI testing is the only way to know if an infection is present.

If you have an STI, it can increase your chance of getting HIV. If you are HIV positive, getting another STI may increase your viral load, making it easier to pass HIV to your partners. If you or your partners are living with an STI, learn more about your STI and how to practice safer sex.

2. What kind of sex are you having?

The chance of getting an STI depends on the kinds of sex you have. STIs are passed in different ways and some sexual acts make it easier to pass some STIs. When you have reliable information about how STIs are passed, you can make decisions about what kind of sex you and your partners want to have. You can choose the way you want to have sex or choose not to have sex.

We have developed a number of charts that describe the chances of getting or passing on an STI, given the kind of sex that you're having.

There are also a number of other websites that calculate the risks of getting an STI with different types of sex:

Sexuality and U: What are the Chances of getting an STI-STD?
Canadian Federation for Sexual Heath: Risk Awareness Chart
Health Initiative for Men: Do the Math

3. Do you and your partners use protection?

Using condoms and other latex barriers during sex greatly lowers the chance of passing many STIs.

Some STIs, such as herpes simplex virus and genital warts (HPV) can be passed by skin-to-skin contact from areas that a condom does not cover. Condoms can be cut length-wise or dental dams can be used to cover areas around the genitals.  

Some people are concerned about getting STIs from oral sex. Herpes simplex virus (HSV), human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia can be passed between genitals and the mouth or throat. If you are concerned about STIs during oral sex then condoms or dental dams can lower the chances. Using flavoured condoms may add to the pleasure of sex.

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prevention, testing, safer sex, condom
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