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STIs are infections that can be passed from person to person during:
- Vaginal sex
- Anal sex
- Oral sex.
STIs are very common; many people will get an STI in their lifetime. If left untreated, STIs can have long-term effects on your health.
There are many different STIs, including:
- Genital herpes
- Genital warts
- Human immunodeficiancy virus (HIV)
- Pubic lice
- Hepatitis B
Most STIs are passed on through certain body ﬂuids (semen, vaginal fluids and blood) or by genital skin to skin contact.
Most STIs have no obvious symptoms, so you or your partner/s could have an STI without knowing it.
STIs can sometimes show the following symptoms:
- discharge from the genitals
- pain when peeing
- pain during sex
- unusual sores / lumps / rashes
- unusual bleeding patterns
Sometimes symptoms go away by themselves, but the infection can stay in your body and cause harm.
If you’ve ever had vaginal, anal or oral sex, the only way to know if you have an STI is to get tested.
Choose a service you are comfortable with:
- Local doctor
- Sexual health clinic
- Health service.
Testing is simple. You will be asked some questions, including what type of sex you’ve had and if you have any symptoms of infection. A simple urine, swab or blood sample is often all that’s needed.
For testing locations or free online Chlamydia testing visit couldIhaveit
Some STIs can be treated easily with antibiotics (chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis).
Viruses such as genital herpes, genital warts, HIV and Hepatitis B can be effectively treated to manage symptoms.
- Get tested – Have an STI test every year, or more often if you change sexual partners.
- Get vaccinated – Vaccines are available to protect against Hepatitis B and the viruses that cause genital warts and cervical cancer.
- Use protection – Using condoms correctly and consistently for vaginal and anal sex will protect you from most STIs. Some STIs are passed on through oral sex. Using condoms or dams correctly and consistently is the best way to protect yourself. A dam is a sheet of latex used as a barrier for oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex.
- Condoms and dams offer the best protection against STIs, but only protect the area of skin they cover.
- Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) are the best methods for preventing pregnancy, but don’t protect you from STIs.
- Talk to your partner/s about STIs. It’s best for all partners to get tested before stopping the use of condoms and dams.
- If you test positive for an STI, it doesn’t necessarily mean your partner/s have cheated. You may have had it for a long time and not know who you caught it from.
Information last updated April 2019
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