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. Other infections include Herpes, genital warts and public lice (crabs).
Know the facts:
- You don't have to have full sex (penetration) 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. Anyone living in Oxfordshire aged 18+ can get a free NHS chlamydia test online. If you are under 18 you can still be tested, but you’ll need to contact your school nurse, sexual health clinic or your GP or clinic to get a Chlamydia test.
Take action: Get tested for Chlamydia for free from home by signing up for your Chlamydia testing kit online.
HIV is the virus that can eventually lead to 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. There is a treatment now (PrEP) that can stop HIV being passed on if you are having sexual relationship with someone with HIV.
Some people believe that HIV is only a problem if you are gay, use drugs, or sleep around. This is wrong. Anyone who has unprotected (not using a condom) sex can contract any sexually transmitted infection, including HIV. Safer sex means always using a condom.
It is really important to get tested early if you think you might be at risk, as it means treatment can start sooner.