STDs and STI Articles
by: STD Help
The acronyms “STD” and “STI” are thrown around a lot nowadays. It’s common to hear them stated on television, scrawled on pamphlets, and even mentioned in casual conversation. The question is – what are they? Many people don’t truly know, and this can lead to a lot of confusion.
STDs - Sexually Transmitted Diseases
What is an STD? “STD” is the shorthand for “Sexually Transmitted Disease.” Princeton defines STD as “a venereal infection…a communicable infection transmitted by sexual intercourse or genital contact.” It seems fairly straightforward – STDs are diseases that can, generally, only be contracted by having sexual intercourse with an infected person although in very rare cases they can be transmitted through contact with a dirty toilet seat or unwashed shared towels. It’s most common for younger people with multiple sexual partners to contract an STD, but anyone can get one – age is not a determining factor.
Eight Common STDs (Listed on the CDC Website)
- AIDs – The last estimate from 2007 put the number of AIDs cases world-wide between 30 and 36million, leaving a huge margin for those who are undiagnosed and simply aren’t aware that they have it. There is no cure for AIDs, leaving it ultimately fatal – over 25 million people have died of AIDs since it came into public awareness.
- Chlamydia – The CDC estimates that there are roughly 1.1 million people infected with Chlamydia each year. This STD can be treated with medication if caught early enough. However, if the early symptoms are ignored or go unnoticed, it can lead to dire consequences, including sterility.
- Genital Herpes – It’s suspected that roughly 45 million people have Genital Herpes. Genital Herpes is extremely easy to catch; it’s transmittable during breakouts and can even be contracted if there are no visible signs of a breakout. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but not fatal, can be somewhat controlled by medications.
- Genital HPV – According to the CDC, 20 million people are currently living with HPV and a suspected 6.2 million more will catch it within the next year. HPV is especially troubling due to its potential to cause cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men. There is no cure for HPV, but it often will go away without any treatment – there is, however, an HPV vaccine that’s becoming more popular with women who have not contracted the virus and don’t want to be infected.
- Gonorrhea – It’s suspected, according to the CDC that over 350,000 people are infected with Gonorrhea yearly. Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics; but if left untreated can cause painful internal abscesses, sterility, and chronic pain.
- Syphilis – The CDC displays a number of roughly 40,000 cases reported per year. Syphilis is an extremely dangerous STD, and can lead to disabling neurological conditions as well at physical pain. It is, however, very treatable if you catch the symptoms early.
- Trichomoniasis – Around 7.4 million people report this STD yearly. It’s most common and women and is completely curable. If not treated, however, it can lead to infertility and increased HIV risk
- Viral Hepatitis – Around 1.4 million people are currently living with this disease. There is a vaccine for it that is required in many schools that reduces the risk, if not completely eliminating it. However, if you fail to get this vaccine, there is no cure for Hepatitis B and tends to cause severe liver damage, leading to death.
Who’s at the most risk for STDs? Women seemed to be infected more than men, and infants born to infected women will more likely than not also be infected. Adolescents also tend to have a higher infection rate.
STIs - Sexually Transmitted Infections
What Is an STI? The acronym "STI" is short for “Sexually Transmitted Infection.” Just like STDs, STIs are shared between people by sexual contact. HIV is considered an STI, and STIs can dramatically increase the chances of becoming infected after exposure to HIV. Anything that lowers your immune system (IE an infection) will reduce the ability of your body to fight to protect itself. Common STIs are the same as common STDs, as they’re essentially the same thing. However, Vaginitis is considered an STI and not an STD as men cannot contract a vaginal infection (although the infection can be transmitted as something else if their immune system is compromised already).
Vaginitis is an inflammation caused by infections such as bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and a vaginal yeast infection. Generally these infections can be caused by improper hygiene (on the part of men, too!) but sometimes they can be indicative of other shared infections. It’s always a good idea to be very careful with hygiene before sexual intercourse to prevent the transmission of STIs.
Overall, STD and STI are just two acronyms that mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably, which many in the healthcare profession do – much to the chagrin of confused patients.