Sexually Transmitted Infections 

What Are STIs?

STIs (sexually transmitted infections), formerly called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are usually acquired by sexual contact. The bacteria, viruses, or parasites that cause sexually transmitted infections may pass from person to person via blood, semen, vaginal or other bodily fluids. Some STIs can be transmitted non-sexually via the sharing of needles or through childbirth.

STIs are very common, and millions of new infections occur every year in the United States. If you receive a positive STI diagnosis,  it can likely be treated with medicine and often completely cured.  For some STIs, like Hepatitis C or HIV, early identification and treatment greatly increase quality of life.

STI’s are preventable. If you have sex, know how to protect yourself and your sex partner(s) from STI’s by using condoms or dental dams, and by getting tested regularly.  You should get tested yearly, or with every new partner, or more often if you are high risk.

Signs and symptoms that might indicate an STI include:

  • Sores or bumps on the genitals or in the oral or rectal area
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Unusual or odorous vaginal discharge
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Pain during sex
  • Sore, swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the groin but sometimes more widespread
  • Lower abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Fever
  • Rash over the trunk, hands or feet 

Signs and symptoms may appear a few days after exposure. However, it may take years before you have any noticeable problems, depending on the organism causing the STI.  Some STIs don't cause symptoms and you can spread them without knowing.  The only way to know for sure is to get tested!

STI Testing

Getting tested is an important part of sexual health. Here are different indications to test:

  • You are sexually active, test once a year
  • You may have been exposed to an STI
  • You have signs and symptoms of an STI
  • You have a new partner
  • Hepatitis C screening at least once in a lifetime for all adults aged 18 years and older
  • All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
  • If you received a blood transfusion or organ transplant prior to 1992
  • If you have ever injected drugs, or shared needles
  • If you are pregnant
  • Unregulated tattoos or body piercings 
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Types of STIs:

  • Bacterial Vaginosis-BV is a common, treatable, vaginal condition which can increase your chance of getting an STD.
  • Chlamydia-Chlamydia is a common, but treatable, STI. If left untreated, chlamydia can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant.
  • Gonorrhea- Gonorrhea is a common STI that can be treated with the right medication. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause very serious health problems.
  • Hepatitis C- Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplants. Hepatitis C can also be acquired without having sex, by either sharing needles, or from mothers to their babies while pregnant or giving birth.
  • Herpes-Genital herpes is a common STI, but most people with the infection do not know they have it. While there is no cure, there are medicines available that can prevent or shorten outbreaks. These medicines also can make it less likely to pass the infection on.
  • HIV/AIDS-People who have STI’s are more likely to get HIV, when compared to people who do not have STI’s.
  • HPV-HPV is the most common STI in the United States, but most people with the infection have no symptoms. HPV can cause some health effects that are preventable with vaccines.
  • PID-PID can lead to serious consequences including infertility.
  • Syphilis-Syphilis can have very serious problems when left untreated. It is simple to cure with the right treatment.
  • Trichomoniasis-Most people who have trichomoniasis do not have any symptoms. Trichomoniasis is treatable.
  • Others-Chancroid, scabies, and more.

General info:

Local testing and treatment resources:

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