Risk Factors For Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Canada and Provincial Variations


  • Sameer Bajaj School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan
  • Shravan Ramayanam School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan
  • Stanley Enebeli School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan
  • Hortense Nsohtabien School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan
  • Mustafa Andkhoie School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan
  • Mohsen Yaghoubi University of Saskatchewan
  • Spencer Gall School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan
  • Michael Szafron School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan
  • Marwa Farag School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan, Canada


STDs, Risk Factors, Inequities, Policy


Aim: To estimate factors associated with having ever had a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs) in Canada and explore provincial variation. Methods: The 2009-2010 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) was used to examine demographic and behavioral factors associated with having ever had an STD. Univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted. Also, probit models were employed to estimate the probability of having ever had an STD in Canada. Results: People living in the Territories had the highest probability of having ever been diagnosed with an STD (OR = 2.11, 95% CI (1.76, 2.52)) and residents from Maritime Provinces were least likely to have been diagnosed with an STD (OR = .64, 95 % CI (.55, .74)). Women were more likely to have ever had an STD with an odds ratio of 2.06 (95% CI (1.90, 2.24)). In our study, income, marriage, and education were found to be protective factors. Behavioral factors such as smoking and binge drinking had significant harmful effects on sexual health. Daily smokers were 1.56 times (95% CI (1.43, 1.71)) more likely to have been diagnosed with an STD compared with non-smokers. Similarly, individuals with binge drinking frequency of more than once per week had 2.57 (95% CI (2.15, 3.07)) higher odds of having ever had an STD. Conclusion: Both demographic and behavioral factors influence the likelihood of having ever been diagnosed with an STD in Canada. Women, people with lower income, lower education, or unmarried are more likely to have ever had an STD. Smoking and binge drinking are significantly associated with an increase in the likelihood of ever having an STD in Canada. Appropriate policy interventions could address some of these factors leading to reductions in STD incidence and prevalence in Canada.

Author Biographies

Mustafa Andkhoie, School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan

PhD student and Epidemiologist at Health Canada

Michael Szafron, School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Szafron and Dr. Farag are co-principal investigators on this work.

Marwa Farag, School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan, Canada

Marwa Farag is an Assistant Professor at the School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Farag's primary research areas are health policy, health financing in developing countries, health economics, and health program planning and evaluation. D.r Farag’s experience includes working in Iraq on health financing and resource allocation issues and on the health sector reform in Egypt. Dr. Farag worked as a senior research associate at the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy, Global Institute For Health and Development at Brandeis University for a number of years. Dr. Farag’s work investigating the relationship between economic development and health outcomes at the country level has been widely cited. Dr. Farag conducted a number of economic evaluations domestically in Canada. She recently published a paper, “Echinococcosis: An Economic Evaluation of a Veterinary Public Health Intervention in Rural Canada” in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, and is currently leading an economic evaluation of the pharmacist prescribing program in Saskatchewan. Dr. Farag has a M.Sc. in Health Policy, Planning and Financing (Health Economics concentration) from the London School of Economics and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London. She has a second Msc. in International Health Policy and Management, a MA in Social Policy and a Ph.D. in Health Policy from the Heller School For Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University. Dr. Farag was also a research fellow at the Kennedy School of Government (KSG), Harvard University for two years.


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Original Research