Canadian Guidelines on Sexually Transmitted Infections

Do the authorities check identification when a positive test result occurs or do they rely on the person being tested to be honest? Is the person’s family physician notified when there is a positive test result? What happens when the assault could affect a spouse, the person not being tested? Click here to learn more or read an excerpt below.


The definition of sexual assault varies but involves all non-consensual sexual acts, ranging from fondling to penetration. For the purpose of these guidelines, as is relevant to the potential transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), the definition will include complete or partial penetration by a penis of the mouth, anus and/or vagina, although it is noted that contact of the mouth with the external genitalia or anus could potentially transmit herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections.

Prevention and Control

Most sexual assaults cannot be prevented, but becoming aware of situations that can make sexual assault more likely and taking preventative steps is of primary importance. Such steps can include measures to remain safe (i.e., at home or while driving), and the avoidance of situations whereby a perpetrator may use alcohol or drugs to impair the victim’s ability to resist the assault.

Reporting and Partner Notification

  • Every province and territory has statutes in place that require the reporting of child abuse. Although the exact requirements may differ by province/territory, health professionals should be aware of local reporting requirements and procedures with respect to child abuse and other acts of maltreatment. If reasonable cause to suspect child abuse exists, local child protection services and/or law enforcement agencies should be contacted.
  • An individual with a confirmed notifiable STI should be reported to provincial/territorial authorities as appropriate.
  • Partner notification of individuals found to be infected with an STI should follow the recommendations in the relevant chapter.


  • If no prophylaxis was taken, follow-up should be arranged for 7–14 days after the original visit to review available laboratory test results and to repeat an STI screen to detect infections acquired at the time of the assault that were not detected at the initial examination.
  • Test of cure for specific infections should follow recommendations outlined in the relevant chapters.
  • If empiric prophylactic therapy was given, follow-up should be arranged at 3–4 weeks.
  • Arrange follow-up serologic testing as required (see Table 1).
  • Review mental state and arrange appropriate referral to mental health services if necessary.




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