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STI Basics

Updated: Feb 28


What is an STI?

STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) or STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are pathogens that are transmitted primarily through sexual contact. While it varies depending on the specific STI, this can include anal, vaginal, or oral sex.


An STI is an infection, which can progress to an STD when you begin showing symptoms. Not all STIs develop into an STD.

Should I get tested?

One of the most important parts of maintaining your sexual health is getting tested regularly.


If you've had unprotected sex (sex without the use of a condom, dental dam, or another barrier method), you could be at risk of contracting an STI. Some STIs don't cause symptoms right away (or at all), and some common symptoms of STDs (bumps around your genitals, vaginal/penile discharge, itching, or pain in your genitals) can have other causes completely unrelated to sexual encounters.

Click here to find a local testing center

How do I prevent STIs?

The most effective protection against STIs is abstinence.


Abstinence is the practice of not having sex. However, this isn't the best solution for many people.


If you plan on having sex, wear protection.


Condoms and dental dams are extremely effective in preventing STIs. If you're in an at-risk group for HIV, such as MSM (men who have sex with men), consider taking PrEP.


Find more information about HIV here.

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