Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/April 1, 2022
All individuals who are having, or have had, condomless sex 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 be offering a temporary drop-in STI Screening Program. This program provides a quick testing option for anyone who has been having condomless sex and does not have symptoms of STIs. This temporary service will help boost access to gonorrhea and chlamydia testing as HPEPH gradually resumes regular programs and services.
Hastings and Prince Edward Counties remain in gonorrhea and syphilis* outbreak, with 84 gonorrhea cases and 16 cases of infectious syphilis reported in 2021. It is suspected that case rates may be much higher, as access to testing has been 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 was reduced. As a result, people may be carrying undiagnosed STIs, and spreading them without knowing it. By offering drop-in STI screening, HPEPH hopes to help local residents catch up with their sexual health testing needs.
Since many STIs have no symptoms, the only way to know if you are infected is to get tested. Different types of sex can transmit STIs if a condom is not used, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. 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 are infected with an STI, without requiring a full assessment. Screening will test for chlamydia and gonorrhea with a quick urine sample or a self-administered throat and/or rectal swab (depending on type of activity). Clients will only be required 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 will not always know if they have been exposed to an STI, or if they do test positive, they may not know how to contact their partner(s),” says Stephanie McFaul, Clinical Services Program Manager at HPEPH. “By offering drop-in style STI screening, we are hoping to help local residents check their status – as easily and conveniently as possible.”
The STI Screening Clinics will be held at the Belleville HPEPH Office, 179 North Park Street, on Monday, April 4, 11, and 25 from 12 to 3:30 p.m. Appointments are not required. While the test itself will only take a few minutes, wait time will vary depending on the volume of clients. Clients are reminded that masks are required at all public health clinics. Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must delay their visit until they are feeling better and have completed isolation requirements.
While STI screening is ideal for individuals who do not have symptoms, those with symptoms must visit a health care provider for a complete assessment and diagnosis. If you do not have a care provider, visit a walk-in clinic or the Emergency Department.
*Please note that testing for syphilis will not be completed at the quick screening drop-in as this requires a blood test. Individuals who want a blood test should contact their health care provider, go to a walk in clinic, or contact HPEPH at the number above for options.