What is an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection)?
An STI is an infection passed from one person to another person through sexual contact. An infection is when a bacteria, virus, or parasite enters and grows in or on your body. STIs are also called sexually transmitted diseases or STDs. Some STIs can be cured and some STIs cannot be cured. For those STIs that cannot be cured, there are medicines to manage the symptoms. The most common STIs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
What are the Risks?
You are at risk for STIs if you can answer yes to any of these questions:
- Have you had vaginal, anal, or oral sex without a condom?
- Have you ever had an STI, including HIV?
- Have any of your partners had an STI?
- Have you or any of your partners ever injected drugs?
- Have you or any of your partners exchanged money or drugs for sex?
- Is it possible that any of your sex partners in the past 12 months had sex with someone else while they were still in a sexual relationship with you?
What are the Consequences?
Each STI causes different health problems. Certain types of untreated STIs can cause or lead to:
- Problems getting pregnant or permanent infertility
- Problems during pregnancy and health problems for the unborn baby
- Infection in other parts of the body
- Organ damage
- Certain types of cancer, such as cervical cancer
- Serious illness or death
Having certain types of STIs makes it easier for you to get HIV or another STI if you come into contact with it.
Under the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans must cover the cost of STI screening or counseling at no cost to you. If you or your partner test positive for a certain STI, you may both be able to get treated with the expedited partner therapy (EPT). EPT allows for the partner to receive treatment without being seen by a doctor.
How is STI screening done? What To Expect…
- Pelvic and physical exam. Your doctor looks for signs of infection, such as warts, rashes, or discharge.
- Blood test. A nurse will draw some blood to test for an STI.
- Urine test. You urinate (pee) into a cup. The urine is then tested for an STI.
- Fluid or tissue sample. Your doctor or nurse uses a cotton swab to take fluid or discharge from an infected place on your body. The fluid is looked at under a microscope or sent to a lab for testing.
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