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Protecting yourself against sexually transmitted diseases

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Free and protected

Protecting yourself against sexually transmitted diseases

In a few words

“STD” is an acronym standing for sexually transmitted diseases. They are infections caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites and are transmitted through sexual contact (vaginal, oral or anal). The 8 main STDs are HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, human papilloma virus (HPV), syphilis, genital herpes, gonorrhea, Chlamydia trachomatis and Vaginal trichomonas.

The different STDs

HIV/AIDS
  • Statistics: 6 000 cas/an
  • Short-term symptoms: flu-like symptoms
  • Long-term symptoms: deterioration of the immune system
Syphilis
  • Statistics: 15,000 new infections each year
  • Short-term symptoms: sores, rashes
Papillomavirus
  • Statistics: 3,000 cases of cancer/year
  • Short-term symptoms: warts
  • Long-term symptoms: potential development of cervical cancer
Chlamydia
  • Statistics: 77,000 infections/year
  • Short-term symptoms: discharge, irritation, burning
Genital herpes
  • Short-term symptoms: sores, blisters, burning, itching
Hepatitis B
  • Statistics: 1,400 cases/year
  • Short-term symptoms: fever, diarrhea, muscle pain
  • Long-term symptoms: potential development of cirrhosis or cancer
Gonorrhea
  • Statistics: 15 000 infections/an
  • Short-term symptoms: burning with urination, genital or anal discharge

How to prevent them?

A large number of STDs, in particular chlamydia, gonorrhea, primary hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis, can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth. Given the risks this poses for the newborn or fetus, testing for syphilis and hepatitis B are mandatory and HIV testing should be systematically offered to pregnant women at their medical appointments.

Condoms

Condoms are the best method for preventing the risk of transmission of all STDs and have proven their effectiveness. There are condoms designed to be worn by men and others by women. They are recommended for all vaginal, anal and oral sex if there is a risk of transmitting an STD: multiple partners, casual sexual encounters or the absence of a stable relationship (in particular among young people).

 

Vaccination

Vaccines are available to protect against hepatitis B and papillomavirus.

  • Since January 1, 2018, hepatitis B vaccinations have been mandatory for infants and are also recommended for children and teenagers up to the age of 15. The vaccination provides very effective protection against hepatitis B infection.
  • The vaccination against HPV infection is also very effective. It is recommended for all girls ages 11 to 14 and young women ages 15 to 19. The vaccination is administered in 2 or 3 doses depending on the person’s age and the vaccine used.

 

Std testing

It is important to get tested regularly, by having blood or other sample taken, or via urine analysis, even if you have no symptoms.

Pre-exposure proxylaxis (Prep)

This is designed only for individuals who do not have HIV, do not systematically use a condom with every act of sexual intercourse and are at high risk of contracting HIV. PREP is an oral medication taken on a continual basis that was launched in 2017. It protects against HIV only. This therapy is available by prescription and requires medical follow-up.

FAQs

Why should I use a condom when I already use another contraceptive?

Condoms are a barrier method: they are the only contraceptive method with proven effectiveness in preventing the transmission of STDs. They are recommended for sexual practices with a risk of STD (multiple partners, casual encounters or the absence of a stable relationship).

Learn more about Contraception

Can a condom be used twice in a row?

No, a condom must never be reused. A new condom must be used with every act of intercourse. Reusing a condom increases the risk of it breaking and therefore increases the risk of unwanted pregnancy and/or the transmission of STDs.

How can I tell if I have an STD?

Some STDs can cause symptoms, but there may sometimes be no symptoms at all. It is important to visit your doctor and get tested, since an untreated STD can lead to complications, promote the transmission of HIV and be transmitted to your partner(s). Depending on the STD, the testing method may involve a medical examination, a smear test, a blood test and/or a urine analysis.

My symptoms have disappeared. Do I still need to get tested?

Yes, you should see a doctor and get tested regularly because you may still be a carrier of the infection. Some STDs can cause symptoms that last only for a short while even though the infection has not been treated.