We live in a culture where it’s finally becoming more and more accepted that we are sexual human beings. We have sexual needs and more people are coming to terms with their sexuality at a younger age. We are in a hookup culture where exploring is normal. And while all of that is great, we also need to be safe.
Knowledge is absolute power when it comes to STDs… or it is STIs? So, first things first, let’s talk about STD vs STI to set the record straight. Here’s the low-down:

1. In basic terms, STDs and STIs are the same.
If you find yourself using them interchangeably because you’re not really sure which one is correct, then you’re not completely wrong! They are both sexual transmitting something-or-another meaning that they both come from unprotected sexual contact with someone who is already a carrier.

2. Yet, there IS a difference.
So, what do they stand for? STD = Sexually Transmitted Diseases. STI = Sexually Transmitted Infections. Now you’re probably asking yourself, ‘So, what’s the difference between a disease and an infection in this case?’ GREAT question! In the medical world, when a disease produces symptoms it is called an infection. The tricky part is that there are many STIs that don’t have any symptoms that you can see or feel. STDs are more obvious with signs that clearly show that something isn’t right. Basically, all STDs are preceded by an STI. But not all STIs turn into an STD.

One great example is the human papillomavirus (HPV). Many people have this STI (and there are many different strains) but do not have any symptoms. They would only know they have it by getting tested. A large majority of cases are cleared up while HPV is still an STI. It’s less common that people have HPV develop into an STD, when you would then most likely have genital warts and it could more likely develop into cervical cancer. (Yea, its that serious.)

3. STIs are a serious matter.
Despite not having any symptoms, a person with an STI can still spread to another person. And although you don’t have any symptoms, the other person might develop them. It does not have to be an STD to be contagious. This is why any STI should be treated immediately and not just when you are showing signs of it.

4. Get yourself checked out regularly.
All of that said, if you are a sexually active person, it is so important to get regularly tested. It doesn’t matter if you want to stick with the classic name STD or refer to your symptom-less symptoms as an STI. Get checked, make sure you are clean, and if you’re not, get treated.

5. Don’t be afraid to talk about it.
There is such a bad stigma wrapped around the word STD. People try to hide it or don’t want to admit it and many times that is the exact way STIs or STDs get passed along. According to the American Health Association, “One in two sexually active persons will contract an STI by age 25.” ONE IN TWO! Don’t be afraid to talk to your partner about STDs and STIs. It may be an awkward conversation, but you can discuss what they have and what the two of you need to do so as not to spread it. There are many options and nowadays STIs and STDs can be treated and controlled.

Protect yourself, protect your sexual partner. Like we said, STIs can be present without any symptoms and you can infect someone else despite not having any signs of it. In this case it is MUCH better to be safe rather than sorry later. There may come a time in a monogamous relationship when both of you have been tested, treated if need be, and given the all clear. Then and only then should you go bareback. There are all sorts of condoms out there today, find one that’s right for you. Ladies, there’s no shame in carrying them around! Men, you should always have them! Condoms people, condoms! Let’s let these STIs and STDs go extinct once and for all.

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