Probably every sexually active person will catch some kind of sexually transmitted infection (STI) once in their life. The important thing is to treat STIs immediately. Testing regularly for STIs is crucial - especially when you have sex with different partners without using condoms. If STIs stay untreated they can lead to serious health implications.
STIs and HIV
There are extra health risks with catching an STI when you're HIV positive. The symptoms of some STIs can be more serious if your immune system is already challenged with other infections. For people with HIV, STIs manifest differently and the treatment can be different. For example, with syphilis, you may get more complications like neurosyphilis. Neurosyphilis can involve significant brain damage if left untreated. There is also scientific evidence that a person with an untreated STI is much more likely to pass on or get HIV during sex.
Typical symptoms of having an STI
- pain passing urine
- itchiness or soreness of your penis or vagina
- abdominal pain
- sores, warts, rashes or blisters on your penis, vagina or anus
- unusual discharge from your penis or vagina
- painful or swollen testicles
Where should I go to get tested?
You can just go to your regular GP or visit a sexual health centre. Most STI tests are very simple to do with a urine sample or swab, some require a blood test.
What types of STIs are there?
For more information on all STIs please visit the STIPU website.
Chlamydia is a sexually transmissible infection caused by bacteria. Most people do not have symptoms but can still transmit the infection.
Crabs are small insects called lice that grip onto the hair in the genital area. They are shaped like tiny crabs. They usually live in pubic hair, but can also be found in chest hair, armpit hair, beards and eyelashes. Pubic lice are not the same as head lice.
Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a bacterial which can infect the throat, anus, urethra (urine passage), cervix (neck of the womb) and eyes.
Herpes is a sexually transmissible infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV: HSV1 and HSV2. Both types of herpes can occur on the lips, mouth, genital or anal areas, and one person can be infected by both HSV1 and HSV2. HSV on the lips and mouth is known as cold sores and HSV on the genital and anal areas is known as genital and anal herpes.
Shigellosis is a diarrhoeal disease caused by infection with Shigella bacteria. It causes diarrhoea and is easily spread among people.
Syphilis is a sexually transmissible infection caused by bacteria. If it is not treated, syphilis can cause serious, irreversible damage.