Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
An STI, also called a sexually transmitted disease (STD), is passed from one person to another during sex. Some diseases only affect the genitals (sexual body parts) and the parts of your body where urine passes through, while others (like HIV and Syphilis) can go on to damage other parts of the body and if untreated can make you very ill. When spread through oral sex, an STI can infect the mouth and throat.
STIs, including HIV, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and Chlamydia, are on the rise in the UK, especially among young people.
Know the facts:
- You don't have to have full sex to get an STI.
- Many STIs show no symptoms at first.
- The best way to find out if you have an STI is to be tested.
- All STIs can be helped by medical treatment.
Crucial: Remember, you only have to have unprotected sex (sex without a condom) once to be at risk of getting an STI. Find out more from Sexwise.
Chlamydia is the most common STI among young people who are sexually active. Many people who have it don't have any symptoms. If left untreated it can go on to cause pain and infertility but luckily it’s easy to test for and easy to treat. Using a condom correctly every time you have sex can reduce the chances of getting Chlamydia, but it is also important to test regularly. If you’re aged 16-24, you can get a free NHS chlamydia test in Oxfordshire from the Chlamydia Screening service. If you are under 16 or over 24 you can get a free test from the sexual health clinics and GPs.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, an illness that affects the body's ability to fight off disease. HIV is passed on in the sexual fluids or blood of an infected person, usually through sexual intercourse or by sharing needles used to inject drugs.
HIV cannot be caught by kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or from door handles or dirty glasses.
Some people believe that HIV is only a problem if you are gay, use drugs, or sleep around. This is wrong. Any young person who has unprotected sex can contract HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Safer sex means always using a condom.
Find out more about growing up with HIV in this video.