STIs & STDs: What Are They?

An STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) is an infection that does not show any physical signs or symptoms.  It is contracted from another infected person through sexual activity.  It becomes an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) when symptoms appear.  Its important to remember that not all infected people will have signs or symptoms.  The problem is that some of these STDs can cause lots of damage and can be passed to your partner without your knowledge.  You do not have to have symptoms to be contagious; you can spread the disease at any time.

STDs & STIs: Prevention

Did you know that some STIs can be spread through all forms of sex and/or intimate skin-to-skin contact (oral sex, outercourse, anal sex, mutual masturbation)?  Condoms are not as effective as most think at preventing the spread of STIs. Using a condom during sex can sometimes reduce the risk for transmitting or contracting certain STIs, but using a condom never eliminates the risk entirely.

Consistent condom use 100% of the time during vaginal sex reduces your risk for:

* HIV by 85%
* Gonorrhea by about 50%
* Chlamydia by about 50%
* Herpes by about 50%
* Syphilis by about 50%
* HPV by 50% or less

Few studies have been done to see whether condoms reduce the risk of STIs, including HIV, during oral sex or anal sex. Abstaining from sexual activity is the only 100% guarantee you have to avoid pregnancy and to avoid contracting an STI. If you feel that you are not ready to have sex, or if you do not want to put yourself at risk for pregnancy or an STI, then abstinence is your best choice.