Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
What is a sexually transmitted infection?
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection you can get by having sex. Some STIs (such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia) infect your sexual and reproductive organs. Others (HIV, hepatitis B, syphilis) cause general body infections. STIs used to be called VDs, or venereal diseases.
STIs are very common in people under the age of 25. If you are sexually active, get tested! To find out what tests you should have, visit STDUniversity.org.
An STI is spread during sexual activity. It is spread during vaginal, anal and oral sex. Some STIs (HIV and hepatitis B) are also spread by contact with infected blood. STIs are not normally spread by digital sex (fingering); however, unclean hands or uncut nails can cause genital problems.
Most STI germs need to live in warm, moist areas. That's why they infect the mouth, rectum and sex organs (vagina, vulva, penis and testes).
Most STIs can be cured if you seek treatment. Most STDs/STIs are asymptomatic, meaning you have no symptoms. Other times, the symptoms go away on their own. Either way, you still have the STI until you get treated. Some STIs cannot be cured.
- How Can I Tell if I Have an STI?
- What to Do If You Think You May Have an STI
- How to Protect Yourself from an STI
- Safer Sex and Levels of Risk
- Oral Sex and STI Risk
Last reviewed October 2012
Back to top
| Take our survey on teen STIs!|
See how others have answered this survey...
- FDA Issues a Warning about STD Drugs Bought on the Internet
- STD Wizard - It takes 5 minutes to find out if you need to be tested for an STI such as hepatitis, HIV or Chlamydia.