Healthy Sex Is Best

Let’s talk about sex, baby!  Hooking up is hot, and can be a great way to figure out what you like, and what you don’t like. Remember that every body is different, and responds in many different ways to different types of stimulation!

Good, honest, and respectful communication is the secret to great and safer sex! What turns one person on may not turn another person on and it’s up to you and your sexual partner(s) to figure out what works for you and the people you choose to engage in sexual acts with! Talk openly about your likes, dislikes, and boundaries, and encourage those you have sex with to do the same.

Understanding Consent

Queer SexEd

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STBBIS

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), can affect the general health, well-being and reproductive capacity of those infected. Participation in sexual risk behaviors can increase your chances of acquiring an STI.

Check out the following links for further information on different STIs, including symptoms, risks, and treatments.

HIV

What is HIV? Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

You’ve heard about it. We’re here to give you the facts.

So, what is AIDS?

AIDS may occur when HIV+ folks can’t or don’t get treatment.

Ways HIV CAN and CAN’T Be Passed

For HIV to travel between people it needs 3 things:

HIV positive body fluid  + direct access to the bloodstream + risk activity = Possible HIV Transmission

HIV Positive Body Fluid

The only fluids that can carry and pass HIV are blood, breast milk, semen & pre-cum, vaginal fluid, and rectal fluid.

Direct Access to the Bloodstream

HIV can live inside our bodies but it quickly dies outside the body when exposed to air. To pass between people, HIV needs direct access to the bloodstream. This happens through sharing needles, fissures (small tears that happen in the openings of our bodies), and special cells in the vagina, bum, and on the tip of the penis.

A Risk Activity

A “risk activity” can allow body fluid containing HIV into the bloodstream. Rick activities include:

You can be infected with HIV no matter your gender, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or cultural origin.

There are lots of things that are NOT a risk for passing HIV, including: sharing toilet seats, touching, water fountains, sharing utensils, giving blood, hugging, kissing, mosquito bites, and manual sex (hand jobs, fingering).

Hepatitis A, B, & C

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is an infection caused by a virus that can be sexually transmitted. Infection with hepatitis A results in inflammation of the liver (hepatitis).

Hepatitis A is transmitted when the feces (stool, poop) of a person infected with the virus comes into contact with the mouth of another person. The most common routes of transmission are sexual contact or ingesting contaminated food or water.

Hepatitis A typically clears up on its own within two months of infection.

A simple blood test can determine if an individual currently has hepatitis A, has had previous exposure to hepatitis A, or has been vaccinated for hepatitis A.

No specific treatment exists for hepatitis A. Available treatments focus on managing symptoms. Hepatitis A is preventable with immunization.

Routine hygiene (washing hands thoroughly after toilet use) and correct and consistent use of barrier methods (condoms, oral dams) for sexual activity involving the anus can reduce the risk of hepatitis A transmission.

Information from Catie.ca

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an infection caused by a virus that can be transmitted by sexual exposure to blood or bodily fluids, injection drug use, and household contact with someone who has hepatitis B. The virus causes inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) and can ultimately cause chronic liver disease.

In Canada, the most common routes of transmission of hepatitis B are sexual contact and injection drug use. All people who are sexually active may be at risk for hepatitis B. In countries where hepatitis B is common, unsafe medical practices and transmission from parent to child during birth are the main routes of transmission.

Infection with hepatitis B can range in severity from an acute illness with few or no symptoms that lasts a few weeks and clears up on its own, to a more serious chronic life-long illness resulting in liver disease, liver failure or liver cancer.

A simple blood test can determine if an individual currently has hepatitis B, has had previous exposure to hepatitis B, or has been vaccinated. There is no cure for hepatitis B, but it is preventable with immunization. Treatment is available that can decrease the risk of liver damage and reduce the risk of passing the virus to other people.

Infection with both hepatitis B and HIV may complicate HIV treatment because of the effects of HIV treatments on the liver.

Correct and consistent use of barrier methods (condoms and/or oral dams) as well as not sharing injection drug use equipment can reduce the risk of hepatitis B transmission. Not sharing personal hygiene products and safely disposing of any objects with blood on them can reduce the risk of household transmission

Information from Catie.ca

Hepatitis C

Hep C can be cured!

Hep C is an infection that is spread when infected blood enters the bloodstream of an uninfected person. Hep C causes liver inflammation, which can lead to severe damage. Liver cells are replaced by scar tissue (a condition called cirrhosis). The more damaged the liver becomes, the sicker you get. If the liver becomes too damaged it can stop working properly, leading to serious issues like liver failure and cancer.

Most people who are infected with Hep C don’t show symptoms for a while. Symptoms may not show up for many years. This is where you can run into problems, because it means that you may continue doing what you’re doing – sharing bills and straws – while infecting others, and perhaps not keeping your health in check.

If symptoms appear, they could include:

Treatment Benefits

Getting Ready For Treatment

Think about the supports you will need to stick with your treatment plan. Maybe you need a safe place to keep your meds, or a reminder to take them.

It is important to stay on track with your daily dose while on treatment. If you miss pills, the medications might not work and you may become resistant to them. Resistance means some drugs will not work for you. Your doctor or nurse can help you create a treatment plan.

Staying Healthy

It is possible to be reinfected with Hep C after treatment. Using harm reduction strategies – like avoiding shared drug use equipment, unsterilized tattoo / body-piercing gear, and other activities that result in blood to blood contact – is a vital part of staying healthy. Reinfection does not disqualify you from treatment!

What if I’m actively using drugs?

You can still get treated and be cured! You should not be denied or asked to delay treatment because of drug use. Treatment as prevention is a part of the provincial strategy to eliminate Hep C by 2025.  Anyone living with Hep C, or at risk of infection, should contact their health care provider about testing and treatment.

What about family planning?

There is not a lot of information about the safety of newer Hep C treatments during pregnancy. It is recommended that treatment wait until after pregnancy and / or breastfeeding. Hep C can be passed from birthing parent to child, because of this you may choose to complete treatment before trying to get pregnant.

Provincial Treatment Program

Treatment is FREE if you have a PEI Health card.

New treatments (called direct acting antivirals or DAAs) are very effective at curing Hep C infection.

Direct active antivirals also have fewer side effects and are taken for a shorter amount of time; 3 pills per day for 8 to 12 weeks.

Once you are cured you cannot pass the virus onto anyone else. If you are living with Hep C talk to your doctor about starting treatment today. You can also connect yourself to care by calling the treatment program directly: 902-569-7642

PrEP: 6 Questions About PrEP

What is PrEP?

PrEP is used by HIV-negative people to help prevent HIV transmission. PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It involves taking a prescription pill that contains two medications. It is primarily prescribed to people with penises who engage in sexual acts with the anus.

Taking PrEP also involves medical visits every three months for HIV testing, screening for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), monitoring for possible side effects, and ongoing support. Most people take PrEP every day, and some take it only on days before and after having sex (this is called on-demand PrEP). You can talk to your doctor about which way might work best for you. PrEP is one of several highly effective ways to help prevent HIV, and it can be used as part of a healthy sex life. Another highly effective way to prevent HIV transmission is using condoms. Also, when people with HIV take treatment and maintain an undetectable viral load, they can not pass HIV through sex (undetectable = untransmittable!).

PrEP only helps to prevent HIV – it does not protect against other STIs (such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and syphilis) or other infections (such as hepatitis A, B, and C).

Who is PrEP for?

PrEP is for HIV-negative people who are at risk for HIV. PrEP works for women, men, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, youth, and people who inject drugs.You might want to use PrEP as a way of staying HIV negative if one or more of the following applies to you:

Talk to your doctor about whether PrEP is right for you.  PrEP also works to help prevent HIV transmission if you share needles to inject drugs.

How well does PrEP work?

When taken correctly, PrEP is as effective as condoms in preventing HIV transmission (97-99% effective). Taking your pills when you are supposed to is very important because PrEP can be less effective when pills are missed. If pills are missed, drug levels in your body may be too low to prevent HIV infection.

Is PrEP Safe?

PrEP is generally safe and well tolerated, and most people who take it report no side effects. Those who choose to take PrEP can be on it for as long or short of a period as desired. Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience any side effects.

What about PrEP for trans men?

There is not a lot of information about the effect of PrEP in trans men, but based on what we know from other people, experts think that trans men can use daily PrEP to help prevent HIV. An on-demand PrEP schedule should not be used by trans men having frontal sex. For these men, it is very important to take PrEP every day and not miss any pills because daily dosing is needed to keep drug levels high in the front hole or vagina.

How can I get PrEP?

If you want to take PrEP, you have to talk to a healthcare provider who is licensed to write a prescription. PrEP medications can be expensive, but there is a provincial program available to PEI Health Card holders that fully covers the medication. If you are working with a private insurance company, or are considering paying out of pocket, you should know that cheaper generic versions of PrEP exist. You should be able to access PrEP through any general practitioner in PEI. PrEP is also available through the Women’s Wellness and Sexual Health Program which serves people of all genders, sexual orientations and ages.

If you access PrEP through private insurance, you can pick up your medication at your local pharmacy. If you access through the provincial program, you have to pick up your medication from the provincial pharmacy in Charlottetown.

Before providing the prescription, a risk assessment and STBBI screening is completed. An individual will be provided with a three month prescription at a time, and will be required to do a follow up appointment, at that time they will receive another three month prescription.

Taking PrEP “on demand” is when an individual takes two pills the day before participating in condom-less sex and one pill a day for the two days following condom-less sex. If this is how an individual chooses to take PrEP, they should be aware that this method is not as effective as a daily dose. It is primarily recommended for anal sex as it takes longer for the drug to impact vaginal tissue.

For more information about PrEP in different regions of the country, especially for gay guys and other guys who have sex with guys, visit: www.catie.ca/en/prepforguys. For information about PrEP use if you’re pregnant, trans, or injecting drugs, visit CATIE’s PrEP for Understudied Populations.

Provincial Pharmacy
17 Fulton Drive
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Phone: (902) 368-4947

Getting Tested: Check Your Sprocket Before You Rock It!

Many sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have no visible symptoms. The ONLY way to know if you have HIV or another STI is to get tested.

Regular testing is an important part of sexual health. Lots of STIs are treatable. Knowing if you have an STI like HIV is the first step to keeping yourself and your partners healthy.

Sexual Health After-Hours Walk-in Clinics

The Women’s Wellness Program & Sexual Health Services will be resuming services in accordance with Public Health guidelines.

Services will include: contraception; abortion care; maternal mental health services through telephone and in-person visits; STBBI testing, treatment and follow-up; PrEP; and pap/pelvic testing. For patients without a primary care provider, the following services will be provided: prenatal care; menopause care; and initial fertility work-up and follow-up. If you require a pregnancy test or condoms, call 1-844-365-8258 and they can be mailed to you, if needed.

Sexual Health After-Hours Walk-in Clinics, as well as visits in Souris, O’Leary and Alberton are cancelled until further notice.

If an individual has an urgent reproductive or sexual health concern, there are clinical staff available to discuss the concern over the phone. Please be patient as staffing is limited during this time.

Summerside

Harbourside Health Centre
243 Heather Moyse Drive
Telephone:  1-844-365-8258
Email:  WomensWellnessProgram@ihis.org

Charlottetown

The Mount
141 Mt. Edward Road, 3rd Floor (to the right of the elevator)
Note:  Patients enter using the North Entrance of the building
Telephone:  1-844-365-8258
Email:  WomensWellnessProgram@ihis.org

Visit the website

Women’s Wellness Program & Sexual Health Services

What services are offered?

Sexual health services include:

Visit the website

For more information check out Get Tested at PEERS Alliance