May 23, 2016 11:00 am
Updated: May 23, 2016 2:38 pm

Safe sex misconceptions: Things you should know about STIs

WATCH: There are many misconceptions when it comes to STIs. Here's what you need to know to keep yourself safe.

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Canadian communities — and much of the world — are in the grips of a historic outbreak of sexually transmitted infections.

READ MORE: ‘The war on STIs has failed’

We asked an STI clinician and an epidemiologist for some tips, and the things they wish people knew.

READ MORE: Tracking sexually transmitted infections in a Tinder age

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Myth: You can’t get diseases though oral sex.

Fact: You can contract gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, HPV and herpes simplex virus from any oral-genital contact. It’s very difficult to transmit HIV through oral sex, however — 0.01 per cent risk if you’re giving, 0.05-0.1 per cent if you’re receiving.

Myth: If you feel fine, you’re fine.

Fact: Most STIs are asymptomatic. The only way to know if you have them is to get tested.

Myth: You’ll know if your sexual partner has an STI by looking at them.

Fact: Nope.

Myth: You can get STIs from toilet seats.

Fact: Nope.

Myth: If you only have sex with someone once you’re probably fine.

Fact: Any kind of sexual contact with someone, even if it’s only once, can get you infected.

Myth: It doesn’t matter what kind of sex you’re having — if it’s unprotected, it’s unprotected.

Fact: Sexual contact involving any kind of abrasion — from a canker to a cut — increases the likelihood of transmission.

Myth: Getting an STI once means you’re immune later.

Fact: Nope. (Some strains of chlamydia may confer a degree of protection from re-infection, but for syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis you can get infected again and again.)

Myth: If you’re not having sex with a new person every night, you don’t need to get tested.

Fact: You should get tested between sexual partners, right after getting a new partner, and once every three to six months if you’re having sex with multiple people over that period of time. If you’re in a long-term, monogamous relationship, you can get tested whenever you get regular physicals.

Myth: Women get tested when they get pap smears.

Fact: You should ask to get tested when this procedure is done.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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