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Dealing with STIs

Some types of STIs can be totally cured. Some types of STIs cannot be cured and will need ongoing attention. Even if your STI cannot be cured, there are ways to manage your symptoms and still have a healthy love and sex life.

Curable STIs

  • Gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, LGV and others are infections that are caused when sex partners pass on bacteria. They can be completely cured with antibacterial medications.
  • Scabies, trichomoniasis and pubic lice (crabs) are caused when sex partners pass on organisms called parasites. You can get rid of these parasites with special skin creams or oral medication.
  • Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus spread through skin-to-skin touching. It will go away on its own or can be treated with skin creams or liquid nitrogen.
Useful Tip
Once your doctor has given you a clean bill of health you can no longer pass curable STIs on to someone else. But keep in mind that the infection could be passed on to you again. Use protection, such as a condom, and talk to your partner or partners about testing to avoid getting infected again.

Manageable STIs

  • Herpes, HPV, HIV and hepatitis B and C are infections caused when sex partners pass on a virus. (HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C can also be spread b y contact with infected blood or body fluids, not just through sex.)
  • Although these STIs cannot be cured, their symptoms can be treated and managed.
  • Herpes symptoms can be managed by medications which you may have to take regularly or only when you have an outbreak.
  • Genital warts can be removed by your health care provider using liquid nitrogen just like warts on your hands or elbows are removed. The virus that causes warts may go away on its own, but there is no way to know for sure.
  • Hepatitis B and C symptoms can be managed with medication.
  • HIV symptoms can be managed by medications which are taken every day to keep you strong so you will live a longer life. New research also has found that HIV treatment can help prevent the virus from being passed on to your partner. For more information about HIV, contact the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT).
Useful Tip
Even if you stop getting outbreaks of genital warts you may still carry the virus (HPV) and can pass it on.
The herpes virus may never leave your body, even if you stop getting outbreaks.
If you feel safe doing so, tell your new partners about your STI so you can decide what precautions to take.

If you think you may have an STI, see your health care provider and have it checked out. If you are diagnosed with an STI, your health care provider can talk to you about treatment options and provide prescriptions.

For more information on testing, check out The Real Facts About STI Testing.

For more information on ways to reduce the risk of transmitting STIs, check out Protecting Yourself and Your Partners from STIs.

If you have questions about this topic, feel free to contact one of our peer educators. [Link]

Last Edited: May 2020

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