A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control



Answered Questions

In the years since SmartSexResource launched, we have developed a library of questions asked by you, and answered by our expert sexual health nurses.

Our answered questions library cover a broad range of sexual health topics and common questions we hear at our clinics.

STI Information (58)

I have green vaginal discharge, no smell and no other symptoms. What could it be?

Having abnormal vaginal discharge may or may not be an sexually transmitted disease. The best way to determine the cause of your discharge is to see a healthcare professional and discuss your symptoms with them. I have attached a link for you to find a clinic within British Columbia. https://smartsexresource.com/get-tested/clinic-finder

Does this answer your question? Please let us know.

I understand that if you have a wart (HPV virus) the wart will go away in months to up to 2 years without treatment. Does that mean that your body has cleared itself from the virus…so cured?…and if so, can you get the same type/strain again? or do you become immune to it? If you’re not ‘cured’ but the wart just goes away, does that mean you’re always going to be infectious?

Your immune system is responsible for clearing out the HPV virus within our bodies, but when and how it is cleared depends on the strain and your immune system. Some people may not have completeresolution of an HPV type. It could be that the type is dormant or “sleeping” in their body, but reawakens at some point. This sometimes happens when the body is under more stress that affects the immune system, such as periods of extreme stress or certain medications like chemotherapy.

It’s also possible that a person may resolve the type completely, but then get it again at a future date. It’s also very possible that someone could be infected with a different
HPV type if they are exposed to it. Having one type of HPV does not mean you won’t get other types of HPV if exposed to them. Regardless of the reason, some people can
have recurrent HPV.

Although our immune system does its best to protect us from HPV exposures, there is still a possibility of transmission if HPV is present. HPV passed through skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. This includes any kind of sexual contact with the anal and genital regions, including genitals rubbing together, penetrative sex (vaginal or anal intercourse), oral sex, sharing sex toys, and hands on genitals. HPV may still be present even if there are no visible warts or when the warts are gone. Since HPV is so common that most people acquire it sooner or later, it is not realistic to avoid it. There is no need to stop having sex even if warts or other signs of HPV are present, or are being treated.

Condoms and other barrier methods can reduce the possibility of HPV transmission, although they do not provide full protection as HPV can be passed through other skin-to-skin contact. Condoms also protect against other STIs, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV. Using condoms is a good way to reduce the risk of getting STIs. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect ourself against HPV. A decade of using the HPV vaccine in British Columbia has shown that it is both safe and effective. For more information about the HPV vaccine visitwww.immunizebc.ca/hpv

Does this answer your question? Please let us know


I’ve been diagnosed with hpv and am being treated for one genital wart above my labia. My boyfriend and I (I am a female) have been having unprotected sex for 6 months and the wart (previously thought to be a skin tag) has always been present. Can my boyfriend and I still have sexual while I’m being treated, can I give him oral sex as well and do we need to use co dons. He most likely has it and can we pass it back and forth?

HPV is a skin-to-skin contact STI which means that it is possible to transmit the virus to your partner during sex. It is important to note that there are more than 150 different types of strains of HPV, and only a few will cause genital warts. This means that you don’t necesarily need to have a wart to have HPV. Rest assured that HPV is quite common and our immune systems typically clear this virus out in most individuals on average 1-2 years (This may vary on your immune system and HPV strain). If you want to minimize your risk factors of transmitting HPV I recommend using a condom to and avoiding skin to skin contact when a wart is visible.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns

Health Nurse



How much does HIV treatment cost in Canada without insurance? How much in BC?

Each province and territory in Canada has a different program for subsidizing drug costs for their residents. These programs have different criteria for who is eligible for coverage, how much the province or territory will pay and what drugs are covered. The programs may be complicated to understand without the help of your local AIDS service organization. Generally, the publicly funded provincial and territorial drug programs offer coverage for people on social assistance (“welfare”) and for seniors over the age of 65. Some provinces issue cards to show to your pharmacist that prove you are entitled to this type of coverage.

In British Columbia, antiretroviral medications and other drugs for management of HIV/AIDS are provided at no cost to medically eligible patients through the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) Drug Treatment Program.  The following criteria are eligible to access medications for treatment of HIV infection through enrolment into the BC-CfE HIV Drug Treatment Program:
Documented HIV infection and clinically meets the current criteria for treatment with antiretroviral medication (as specified in the BC-CfE Therapeutic Guidelines)


BC resident with Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage (active BC Personal Health Number) or Interim Federal Health coverage (e.g. refugee status) or active medical plan coverage from another Canadian Province, for temporary coverage pending active MSP coverage.

If you were to buy antiretroviral medication out of pocket it can range anywhere from $300-$500 Canadian dollars per month which is determined by the market price listed by the pharmaceutical companies.
For more information regarding how to obtain HIV medication in British Columbia please visit the BC Centre for Excellence’s website at http://cfenet.ubc.ca/drug-treatment-program.

I went to a bathhouse and let another man give me a handjob. Once I came, he rubbed his finger on my urethra. Can I get an STI from this?

Hi, and thanks for your question.

Though not impossible, a person would be unlikely to get an STI from the type of contact you describe. If a person had an infection like syphilis or herpes that can be passed by skin to skin contact and they touched that area of themselves immediately prior to touching you, it might be possible to pass the virus or bacteria to you. Or if they had ejaculate on their own finger before touching your urethra they could possibly pass chlamydia or gonorrhea if they had either one of those infections.
Of course, those conditions would need to be in place, and really the risk from the encounter you describe is more theoretical than actual.

If you are sexually active, we do always recommend regular testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) anyways. To locate a testing provider in your area, have a look at our Clinic Finder
You might also find our Know Your Chances charts helpful in understanding how different STIs can be passed.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

What is the difference between chlamydia and a UTI?


Chlamydia is a bacterial infection caused by the transmission of Chlamydia trachomatis during sexual contact in which body fluids are exchanged. Chlamydia can be in the throat, urethra (pee tube), vagina and rectum. It is common for chlamydia to cause no symptoms.
See our information page on chlamydia for some additional information.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection of the bladder and often the urethra. It is caused by the bacteria multiplying in urine. UTI are not seen as a sexually transmitted infection (STI) like chlamydia because typically the bacteria that cause this are not sexually transmitted, for example E coli is a common bacteria that causes UTI.

It’s not common for people with a penis to get a UTI as the longer urethra offers good protection from the bacterium that causes UTI.

A common symptom to a UTI is pain when urinating (peeing) this can also be a symptom of chlamydia and other common STI. Given this we find that if someone has this symptom and are concerned about a UTI, it would also be good to get a STI test if there was a possibility one could have been passed to you.

A clinic would be able to do an assessment to see if someone’s symptoms e.g. painful urination was caused by a UTI or a STI. Both chlamydia and UTI can be treated with antibiotics.

Let us know if you have any further concerns or questions.

Health Nurse

I have heard that one fifth of new hiv transmission in Africa are taken from hospital. Are hospitals in Canada or US risk free?

Hi, and thanks for your question

In Canada, hospitals follow strict infection control measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We really do not see HIV acquired from hospital visits in Canada. HIV is most commonly passed through sexual contact or through sharing needles to inject drugs with an infected person.

Have a look at our HIV and AIDS page for more information on how HIV is spread.

You might also be interested to look at some Canadian statistics for HIV found HERE

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

According to many sources it is possible for a man receiving oral to contract chlamydia or gonorrhea. But how can that happen since a) both STIs are fluid-borne and b) neither Chlamydia Trachomatis nor Neisseria Gonorrhoeae are present in saliva or blood* (the only secretions that may come out of a mouth during oral)?* According to your “STIs at a glance” chart, the bacteria causing these two STIs are only present in semen, vaginal fluids and rectal fluids.

Hi, and thanks for your question.
You are right that chlamydia and gonorrhea are not present in saliva or blood and are therefore not passed this way. However, it is possible for gonorrhea and less commonly chlamydia to grow in a person’s throat. If an individual gives oral sex to a person with a penis which happens to have either gonorrhea or chlamydia, that infection can be passed via the semen into the throat and start growing there. If the person who now has an infection in the throat then gives oral sex on a penis which does NOT have an infection, that infection can be passed to the person receiving oral sex.
It really requires a direct transfer of the bacteria to a person’s throat through seminal fluid and then direct contact of a person’s genitals with the bacteria in a person’s throat for the infection to be passed this way. While it is theoretically possible, this is why we do not commonly see these infections passed through kissing on the mouth or even shallower kissing on the genital area.
It sounds like you’re already familiar with our STIs at a Glance chart! If you’re interested in seeing which STIs are commonly passed through various types of sex, check out our Know Your Chances charts found here: https://smartsexresource.com/about-stis/know-your-chances-0

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

Can any of STIs be transmitted in other than sexual way? For example through blood to blood contact (probably syphilis can?) or with contact of wound with semen etc.?

Hi, and thank you for your question

When we talk about infections being “sexually transmitted” we mean that these infections are typically passed from one person to another during some form of sexual contact. This means that these infections are not generally passed through casual human contact such as shaking hands or hugging. However, each infection does have its mode of transmission, or how it is passed from person to person.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be present in semen, vaginal fluid, and rectal fluid so can be passed through oral, anal and vaginal sex. These infections are not passed by contact with blood and are typically not passed through skin to skin touching.

HIV is present in both blood and body fluids such as semen, vaginal fluid, rectal fluid and breastmilk. So it can be passed through anal and vaginal sex as well as through exposure to blood on an open sore or mucous membrane.

Syphilis can be passed quite easily by skin to skin contact with the fluid from a syphilis lesion (blister).

Other STIs such as herpes and human papillomavirus, or HPV (the virus that causes genital warts and some types of genital cancers) are very easily passed from person to person through skin to skin contact.

For more information on how STIs are passed have a look at our STIs at a Glance chart found here: https://smartsexresource.com/sites/default/files/Smartsex_SUPERCHART_2014_v2.pdf

These Know Your Chances charts are also great for understanding which infections are commonly passed through different types of sexual contact: https://smartsexresource.com/about-stis/know-your-chances-0

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

Can I get STD if I deep kiss and sucking breast of a massage girl?I use condoms for vaginal and anal sex and do not use condoms for receiving oral sex.

Hi and thank you for your question.

Using condoms for vaginal and anal sex are a great way to lower your chances of getting a STD. The trick with condoms is that they have to be used from start to finish of the sexual encounter, and they have to be put on correctly. Also, condoms only protect the parts that are covered. That means, infections that are transmitted skin to skin are still possible even if using condoms – like herpes or genital warts. 

Ideally, you would also use some kind of barrier or condom when having oral sex, as some STDs can be passed orally – for example gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis.

Though uncommon, some STDs can be passed through deep kissing. Herpes is one example.

Here are some resources that you may find helpful:

Chances with Oral Sex: https://smartsexresource.com/sites/default/files/Oral-Sex-Table-v3.png

Chances with Anal or Vaginal Sex: https://smartsexresource.com/sites/default/files/Anal-Vaginal-Sex-Table-v3.png

Chances with Other Kinds of Sex: https://smartsexresource.com/sites/default/files/Other-Sex-Table-v3.png

Assessing Risk: https://www.srhweek.ca/caring-for-yourself/sexually-transmissible-and-blood-borne-infections-stbbis/assessing-risk/

If you are sexually active, and have new or different partners, or your partners have new or different partners, it’s always a good idea to get tested regularly. Ideally this would happen any time you experience symptoms, or if you don’t have symptoms, test a couple of months after a new partner or risk – this would cover off any window periods (the time from infection to the time it can be picked up on a test).

Hope this helps.

Health Nurse