Hastings and Prince Edward County/April 12022
All men who are or have had sex without a condom are encouraged to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – even if they do not have symptoms. While individuals are encouraged to contact their health care provider for STI testing, in the month of April, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) will also offer a temporary drop-in STI screening program. The program offers an accelerated test option for people who have sex without a condom and do not have symptoms of an STI. This temporary service will help promote access to gonorrhea and chlamydia testing as HPEPH gradually resumes regular programs and services.
There remains an outbreak of gonorrhea and syphilis* in Hastings and Prince Edward counties, with 84 gonorrhea cases and 16 reported cases of infectious syphilis in 2021. It is suspected that the rate of cases may be much higher, as access to testing is limited. People of all genders and sexual orientations are testing positive. While STIs did not go away during the pandemic, access to testing and treatment decreased. As a result, people can carry STIs without being diagnosed, and can spread them without knowing it. By offering drop-in STI screening, HPEPH hopes to help local residents meet their sexual health testing needs.
Since many STIs cause no symptoms, the only way to know if you are infected is to get tested. If condoms are not used, different types of sex, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex, can transmit STIs. Even without symptoms, undiagnosed/untreated STIs can lead to long-term health consequences. STI screening provides a quick and easy opportunity for individuals to know if they have been infected with an STI without the need for a full evaluation. Screening will test for chlamydia and gonorrhea with a quick urine sample or a self-administered throat and/or rectal swab (depending on the type of activity). Customers will only need to provide their name, health card, and preferred method of contact (text, email, or phone number). Individuals who do not provide a health card can still receive screening.
“People won’t always know if they’ve been exposed to an STI, or if they test positive, they don’t know how to contact their partner,” says Stephanie McFall, clinical services program manager at HPEPH. “By offering drop-in style STI screening, we are hoping to help local residents get their status checked – as quickly and conveniently as possible.”
STI Screening Clinics to be held at 179 North Park Street, Belleville HPEPH Office Monday, April 4, 11, and 25 from 12 to 3:30 p.m. Appointments are not required. While the test will only take a few minutes, wait times will vary depending on the amount of customers. Customers are reminded that masks are required in all public health clinics. Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should delay their travel until they feel better and have completed isolation requirements.
While STI screening is ideal for individuals who do not have symptoms, those with symptoms should visit a health care provider for a complete evaluation and diagnosis. If you do not have a care provider, go to a walk-in clinic or emergency department.
For more information about an STI or screening clinic, visit our website or call the HPEPH sexual health team here 613-966-5500Extension 243.
*Please note that testing for syphilis will not be completed at the Accelerated Screening Drop-In as it requires a blood test. Individuals who want a blood test should contact their health care provider, walk to the clinic, or contact HPEPH at the number above for options.