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Sexual Health

Sexual health is feeling good physically, mentally and socially about your own sexuality and any intimate or sexual relationships. It means always respecting yourself and others and having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences when you are ready that are free of coercion, discrimination and violence.

It’s important to have access to confidential, non-judgmental sexual and reproductive information and services.

STIs can be passed from person to person by having sexual contact or blood contact. Some STIs can be treated with medication. If an STI is left untreated it can lead to serious health problems.

A condom should be used every time you have sexual contact. Condoms can help protect you from STIs and unwanted pregnancies.

You can have an STI and not have any symptoms. See a health care provider for STI testing. For more information call RCDHU at 613-732-3629 or 1-800-267-1097 or email 


  • Sex & U – Sexual health information and your available options.
  • GetaKit – Access to HIV self-testing kits for eligible individuals.
  • The PrEP Clinic – HIV prevention information and access to PrEP clinics.

What is HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system by destroying white blood cells, which protect the body from infections. If left untreated, HIV can cause a weakened immune system or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Some people may not develop any symptoms after contracting HIV. However, some people may experience mild flu-like symptoms within 2 to 4 weeks, including: chills, fever, fatigue, joint pain, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

HIV is transmitted through specific exposure to blood and/or body fluids from a person infected with HIV. HIV is most commonly spread through unprotected sex and sharing needles or other drug using equipment.

How to prevent HIV?

There are several ways to prevent the transmission of HIV, including:

  • Using condoms
  • Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
  • Not sharing drug use equipment (such as needles, cookers, or pipes)

What is HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)?

PEP is used to help prevent HIV infection by individuals who may have been recently exposed to HIV. PEP medication is effective when taken within 72 hours of being exposed to HIV. Medication is taken daily for 28 days.

PEP can be accessed at any Emergency Department.

For more information on PEP, visit: Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

What is pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)?

PrEP is a way for an HIV-negative person who is at risk of HIV infection to reduce their risk of getting HIV by taking antiretroviral drugs. When taken as prescribed, PrEP medication reduces the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted HIV by more than 90%.

For more information on PrEP and where to access it please visit Ontario’s The PrEP Clinic.

How can I get tested for HIV?

Diagnosis is based on a blood test which checks for antibodies to HIV. Below are options in Renfrew County and District to access HIV testing.

  • GetaKit Self-Testing: You can access free at-home testing through No health card is required. Visit:
  • HIV testing through a Health Care Provider: Speak to your health care provider to request a blood test. If you don’t have a family health care provider or don’t have access to yours, call the Renfrew County Virtual Triage and Assessment Center (RC VTAC) at 1-844-727-6404.

Additional Resources

It is important to know your birth control options and how they work.

Birth control will only work if it is used properly. There are many different types of birth control and a health care provider can help find one that best suits you and your lifestyle.

Stay on Schedule is your guide to taking contraception after a missed or extended dose.

Renfrew County and District Health Unit may be able to help with the cost of your birth control by providing you with a coupon for your pharmacy. Visit the Sexual Health Clinic page for more information.

Emergency contraceptive pills must be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex and are most effective if taken within three days. These pills are available by speaking to the pharmacist at your local drug store.

The only birth control method that provides protection from sexually transmitted infections is the male and female condom.

Renfrew County and District Health Unit offers confidential, non-judgmental counselling.

Speak to a Public Health Nurse about any sexual health questions by calling 613-732-3629 or 1-800-267-1097 or email 

More information on sexual health and your options visit Sex & U.

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Pembroke Office

141 Lake Street, Pembroke, Ontario K8A 5L8

Phone: 613-732-3629
Toll Free: 1-800-267-1097
Fax: 613-735-3067

Hours of Operation
Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Renfrew Service Hub (By Appointment Only)

120 Plaunt Street South, Renfrew, Ontario, K7V 1M5

Services offered by appointment only.

If you require an alternative accessible format or assistance accessing information on this page, please contact us at or 613-732-3629.