What Do You Know about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)?
Chlamydia, herpes, and gonorrhea are sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
STIs are also commonly called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Millions of new
occur in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC. Take this quiz to find out more
STIs, as well as how to protect yourself from them.
occur in people ages 15 to 24, according to the CDC. But other age groups are not
immune. Whenever people have unprotected sex with multiple partners, or the partner
monogamous person has sex with multiple people, the risk increases for STIs. These
diseases affect men and women of all racial backgrounds, ages, and economic levels.
much lower in number than they have been, but the overall number of STI infections
rising, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) says. This
mostly because young people have become sexually active at an earlier age, yet they
marrying later. Divorce is also more common today than it was in the past. These factors
mean that sexually active people are more likely to have several sexual partners during
their life. Having multiple sex partners is a major risk factor for getting STIs.
Research has also found that people with an STI are 2 to 5 times more likely to get
the virus that causes AIDS. They are also more likely to pass HIV on to others.
for only a short time. Or they cause no symptoms at all. If a person has had multiple
sex partners during their life, they are at risk of getting an STI. If a person is
infected with an STI, they can pass it on to a sex partner—even if no symptoms are
present. If you have more than one sex partner, or if your partner has had more than
partner, experts recommend that you get screened for STIs.
STIs tend to be more serious and happen more often in women than in men. This is because
women are more likely to get HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. They also may not know
are infected until serious problems have developed. PID occurs when STIs spread into
uterus and fallopian tubes. PID can cause infertility and ectopic pregnancy. The human
papillomavirus infection (HPV), which causes genital warts, can cause cervical cancer
and other cancers of the reproductive system. A pregnant woman with an STI can pass
disease on to her baby. Some of these illnesses can cause permanent disabilities or
cases of chlamydia are reported each year, according to the NIAID. Untreated chlamydia
can lead to PID in women. But most people with chlamydia don’t have symptoms. Chlamydia
is treated with antibiotics. Because so many people have chlamydia, the CDC recommends
that sexually active female teens and young women, as well as older women at risk,
screened every year for this STI. The CDC also recommends that women who are treated
chlamydia be rescreened 3 to 4 months after treatment.
by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is a viral infection that has no cure. The
blisters or sores in the genital area usually go away within a few days or up to 2
weeks, but the virus stays in the body. The sores or blisters may come back from time
time. A tingling or burning in the legs, buttocks, or genital area usually happens
before the blisters show up. Medicines are available to treat and prevent genital
outbreaks, and help prevent passing it on to others. But these medicines don’t get
of the virus.
resistance, the CDC recommends only one class of antibiotics to treat gonorrhea—the
cephalosporins. The most common symptom of gonorrhea is a discharge from the vagina
penis and painful or difficult urination. Women with gonorrhea can develop PID, ectopic
pregnancy, and infertility. .
symptoms of syphilis are mild, this STI eventually can be fatal if it isn’t treated.
first symptom is a painless sore called a chancre that can show up near or on the
genitalia, the mouth or anus, or on the hands. It can take years for syphilis to become
advanced. It involves the heart and central nervous system. Syphilis is most often
treated with penicillin.
SHAN-kroid) is an STI caused by bacteria. It occurs in the U.S. in outbreaks from
to time, but it is common in sub-Saharan Africa. Like genital herpes and syphilis,
first symptom of chancroid is an open sore on the genitals. Lymph nodes in the groin
swell and become painful. Scabies is a skin infection with a tiny mite. It is fairly
common and highly contagious. It can be spread through sexual contact. But it also
be passed on by nonsexual contact with skin, infested sheets, towels, and furniture.
Scabies causes intense itching, especially at night. Small red bumps or lines appear
the body where the female scabies mite has burrowed into the skin to lay her eggs.
Molluscum contagiosum is a common viral infection that most often affects young
children, who pass it to one another through saliva. In adults, the virus is passed
sexually. Symptoms are bumps on the chest, genitals, lower abdomen, buttocks, or inner
thighs. Human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV) can be passed from one person to another
not only through sexual contact but also through blood. This is a rare disease in
U.S. It is mostly found among IV drug users and people who have genital ulcers or
history of syphilis. HIV is also usually passed sexually.
herpesvirus family. It is spread not only by sexual contact, but also by other forms
contact. The virus is found in saliva, urine, and other bodily fluids. Because the
is also often found in semen, as well as in secretions from the cervix, it can be
by sexual contact. People in a day-care setting who care for children 3 and younger
at higher risk of getting CMV. The virus doesn’t spread easily. Casual contact with
infected person doesn’t usually pass on the infection. Like other herpesviruses, CMV
no cure. But the virus usually stays inactive in the body.
Other ways include:
- Don’t have a partner who has other sexual partners.
- Don’t have sex with people who have, or who you think have, an STI.
The best way to not get an STI is to not have sexual contact with others. It is also
important to get tested and treated for STIs to protect yourself and others.