An STI, or sexually transmitted infection, is basically any kind of bacterial or viral infection that can be spread through sexual contact.
This doesn’t just mean unprotected sex. Some STIs can be passed on through oral sex (kissing, licking or sucking someone’s genitals), and some can be passed through sexual touching and skin-to-skin contact.
There are lots of STIs out there and you will probably already have heard of some like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, genital warts, genital herpes, HIV…
Many are on the increase, and all of them can affect anyone. Some don’t show up straight after you get infected.
Some can show signs a few days after unprotected sex. Others can go unnoticed for a long period of time. Some don’t ever show any symptoms at all.
The good thing about infections is that they’re often easy to sort out. But leave them untreated and they may cause serious damage to your long-term health.
If you think or suspect you have an STI get checked out as soon as possible. You can refer yourself for advice and treatment.
Remember you can’t tell by looking at someone if they have an STI.
Here’s where you can start finding out more about STIs. Find out what they are, how you know the symptoms and where you go for treatment. Knowing more is the best way to protect yourself and other people from infections.
Some STIs can have no symptoms. If you don’t know you are infected and you don’t get treated, you can be storing up some serious long-term health problems.
There are 25 different types of STIs. The most common infections are:
- Genital warts
- Genital herpes
- Non-specific genital infections (NSGIs)
- Pubic lice
- Hepatitis B
- HIV and AIDS