Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are diseases that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Having unprotected sex (penetrative, oral, anal) with an infected person heightens your chances of being infected with one or multiple STIs. Some of these diseases can also be transmitted through sharing sharp objects like razors and needles with an infected person, coming into contact with infected blood, or even through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Sexually Transmitted Infections are categorized into viral, bacterial and parasitic.
Simply put, these are diseases that are caused by a virus. They are the most dangerous type of infection since they cannot be cured. They can however be well managed if detected early. The most widely known type of a viral STI is Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which attacks and weakens the body’s immune system. Other types are:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) – causes warts in different parts of the body depending on the strain.
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV) – causes an outbreak of sores or blisters around the mouth or genitals. There are two types; HSV-1 which is causes cold sores around the mouth and HSV-2 which causes genital herpes.
- Hepatitis A, B and C – all attack the liver. Hepatitis A is transmitted when someone comes into oral contact with infected feces like in rimming, Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood, semen and vaginal fluids, Hepatitis C is transmitted when the virus is introduced into someone’s bloodstream, as in the cases of sharing needles for drugs and is most common in men who have sex with other men.
These infections are caused by bacteria and can be cured. They include:
- Chlamydia – the most common type of STI and can easily be treated using antibiotics. Can also be passed from mother to child during pregnancy.
- Syphilis – begins with a painless sore on the mouth, rectum or genitals followed by a rash.
- Gonorrhea – painful urination and abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina. May cause infertility if left untreated.
Infections caused by parasites. Include trichomoniasis, scabies and pubic lice.
It is important to maintain a healthy sexual life in order to prevent yourself from Sexually Transmitted Infections. It is advisable to maintain only one sexual partner and always use protection during sex.