Sexuality and U
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STIs-STDs

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What are the chances of getting an STI-STD?

Different sexual behaviour carries different STI risks
STI lights risk diagram English
If you don’t protect yourself

If you don’t protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections, you’re risking a lot. The good news - most sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be cured and others can be controlled. There are now vaccines to prevent Hepatitis B and the Human Papillomavirus. The bad news - some, such as HIV, can kill you.

STIs and HIV can affect anyone. STIs are unpredictable because you or your partner may not display any symptoms, or the symptoms may not appear for weeks, months or even years after you’ve been infected. In the case of HIV, it is possible that 15 years could pass before the infection leads to visible symptoms; that’s 15 years during which the infected person could pass along the virus to countless partners.

You can’t tell

You can’t tell just by looking at someone or talking to someone that he or she is infected. The only way to be sure is to be tested. If you are sexually active and having intercourse or starting a sexual relationship with someone new, you and your partner should both be tested for STIs - before having sex, and then again three to six months later.

It is important not to think it is a disgrace to become infected, or that doing so means you have a “loose” character or are unclean in any way. Anyone who is sexually active can become infected if precautions aren’t taken.

Having an STI is a medical problem, not a moral one. Every individual has an obligation to protect themselves from STIs, and to avoid passing along an infection to a partner.

Consequences

Often, a major consequence of untreated STIs is infertility. Women tend to suffer more severe long-term consequences of STIs, including infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, and cervical dysplasia (abnormal pap smear). Women are also less likely to see a doctor if they become infected because many STIs exhibit no symptoms in women, and the infections are more difficult to diagnose.

Keep in Mind
  • The exchange of bodily fluids is the most common way to pass along an infection, no matter whether the infection is viral or bacterial.
  • Skin-to-skin contact is another way to transmit certain infections. Herpes and warts are spread in this way, and a condom may not fully protect you.
  • Infected women who are pregnant can unknowingly pass some infections to their babies during pregnancy and at birth.
  • Infected mothers can unknowingly pass the HIV virus through their breast milk.