About The STD Clinic
What should I expect when I visit the Clinic?
Registration is efficient and discrete. You will be asked to identify yourself, provide specific information and then you will be assigned a unique identification number. This number will be used to identify your clinical samples and laboratory reports. You will need to provide this number for identification when you call for test results or return to clinic for subsequent visits.
When you are taken to the clinic area you will be placed in a room by a nurse. You will then be seen by a physician who will obtain information and proceed with diagnostic testing as required. At times you may first be seen by a physician in training (medical student or resident).
“Wait time” is 30 minutes on average, but may be longer on busy clinic evenings.
What if I have no symptoms? Do I still need testing?
Many persons will have no symptoms when infected with an STI. Your risk of having an STI will depend on several factors.
You are at highest risk if:
- You are 25 years or younger (the highest risk is 19-25 years) and sexually active
- You have a sexual partner who has a known STI
- You have a new sexual partner or have multiple sexual partners
- You exchange sex for money, drugs, shelter, or food
- You are a man who has sex with men
- You use intravenous or other illicit drugs
- You do not use condoms or other barrier protection for sexual activity
- You are not in a committed long-term monogamous sexual relationship
What Sexually Transmitted Diseases are seen at the Clinic and what type of testing is performed at the clinic?
Based on your needs and history of sexual exposure, one or a number of tests may be performed.
- Chlamydia - a urine specimen is collected from males and a cervical swab from females. (Males, please do not urinate for at least two hours before your clinic visit).
- HIV/AIDS - a screening blood test is performed and, if positive, an additional confirmatory test on the same blood sample. You must return to the clinic for HIV test results. The blood test may not become positive for up to six months after exposure, so repeat testing may be necessary.
- Genital herpes - a swab is taken of any sores that may be present at the time of your visit. In the absence of active sores, we are unable to confirm a diagnosis of genital herpes. NOTE: Non-nominal testing for HIV is not the same as anonymous testing. With anonymous testing you do not need to identify yourself at all to the clinic staff. This form of confidential testing is performed only at the Halifax Sexual Health Centre.
- Molluscum contagiosum - these are diagnosed based on their typical appearance.
- Genital warts - this diagnosis is usually made based on their typical clinical appearance.
- Pubic lice and scabies - these are usually diagnosed by symptoms and the typical appearance of these organisms on hairs or in the skin.
- Gonorrhea - swabs are collected from male penis and female cervix.
- Syphilis - a screening blood test is performed and, if positive, an additional confirmatory test on the same blood sample.
- Hepatitis A and B Trichomonas and other vaginal infections - a screening blood test is performed to test for infection and/or to determine if you are immune.
- Trichomonas and other Vaginal infections - specimens from the vagina are taken and may be examined microscopically in the clinic. In addition a specimen is sent to the laboratory for later examination.
- Pap smears – these are offered to women who have not had one within the last 12 months. Results are available by telephone and are copied to your Family Physician for follow-up.
- Referral to other clinics – this is done as needed for other assessment and testing.
How will I obtain my test results?
Call back for your test results one week later and at the times specified (Telephone access). You will be asked for your unique ID number before results can be provided. If your results are abnormal or positive and you have not called, you may receive a call from the clinic or from the Department of Health. If you have HIV testing performed, no results will be given over the phone. You must return to the clinic for results (usually in two weeks).
What treatment will I receive?
Treatment will be provided to you in the Clinic if you have symptoms or positive test results. Treatment may include preparations which are applied to the skin, or taken by mouth, or given by injection. Most treatments are available free of charge in the clinic. At times you may need to purchase your treatment at a community pharmacy. It is important that to you take all the medication provided or your infection may not be cured.
How can I prevent myself or another person from getting an STI?
STIs are transmitted through many forms of sexual activity including direct genital sex contact, oral sex, or anal sex. Some infections may also be transmitted through "sex toys."
- The most reliable way to avoid having an STI is to abstain from sexual intercourse (i.e. oral, vaginal, or anal sex), or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.
Failing that be sure to practice “safer sex” which can help to reduce your risk of STIs. Safer sex includes abstinence, reducing the number of sex partners, avoiding exposure to your partner’s body fluids (e.g. blood, semen, vaginal fluid), and using barrier protection such as condoms. You should not have sex if you or your partner have a sore or other evidence of infection.
- Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In addition, correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of genital herpes, syphilis, and chancroid only when the infected area or site of potential exposure is protected. Condoms may be less effective in the preventing the transmission of the virus that causes genital warts. Remember that condoms may break or slip off during use.
- No protective method is 100 percent effective, and condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection against any STI.
The material provided is intended for educational and informational purposes only.