Overview of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is any infection that is passed during sex. STIs can be passed during oral, vaginal and anal intercourse. A few STIs, such as HIV and Hepatitis B, can be transmitted via blood. Others, such as herpes and HPV, can be transmitted via skin-to-skin contact. Symptoms of STIs vary depending on the infection, and some people may show no symptoms whatsoever. It is important to know your risk factors and get tested regularly.
Types of STIs
STIs can be broken down into two main categories: Bacterial infections and viral infections. Bacterial infections can be treated with a course of antibiotics. Viral infections are not curable, but they can be managed with help from a health care provider.
The risk of acquiring STIs can be greatly reduced by following safer sex practices. These practices include:
- Correct and consistent condom use. Condoms made from latex, polyurethane, polyisoprene, and nitrile are all effective at preventing STI transmission. Natural skin condoms do not protect against STIs. Condoms are available at SHCS from The Love Lab and Pharmacy.
- Taking the appropriate steps to avoid condom breakage, such as storing them in a cool, dry place and using water-based lubricants.
- Using skin-to-skin barrier protection (such as condoms or dental dams) over as much of the genital and/or rectal area as possible during oral, vaginal or anal sex.
- Having all safer sex products (condoms, dentals, water-based lubricant) on hand before you need them.
- Communicating with your current/potential partner(s). This includes discussing which safer sex products will be used, your current STI testing status, and any history of infection.
- For tips on having these conversations, take a look at Let's Talk about It: A Guide to Consent and Sexcessful Communication
If you are sexually active, it is recommended that you test for STIs regularly, especially if you have had unprotected sex or are with a new sexual partner. Student Health and Counseling Center offers screening for Chlamydia/Gonorrhea, HIV, Herpes, and Syphilis. Visit our STI Testing Options for more info.