It's Better to Know your STI and HIV status. This helps to protect your long term health as well as the health of your current and future partners.
An STI is a Sexually Transmitted Infection. Sometimes also called an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease). STI is currently the favoured term to encourage people to get tested as infections sounds more treatable and less worrisome than disease.
There are a lot, and we cannot cover them all here. Some are more common in some countries than others due to different cultures, environment, attitude to sex and availability of condoms. The main STIs in the UK include: Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Herpes, HIV, Syphilis, HPV (which includes Genital Warts), Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Ureaplasma, Mycoplasma, Trichomonas and Gardnerella.
STIs can be sexually transmitted by oral, anal or vaginal sex. Some STIs can be passed on by bodily fluid (blood, cum, vaginal fluid or saliva), some need to be blood to blood contact, others can be passed on just by touch, so you can catch and transmit and STI without having sex with someone. Herpes type 1 is very common – often known as cold sores – blisters around the mouth and lips and can be passed on by kissing.
Many people do not have symptoms, and sometime the symptoms described below do not mean you have an STI. Symptoms, when they do exist can include: pain or itching in the genital area; redness, unusual lumps, spots, blemishes, blisters in the genital area; pain when urinating; burning when urinating; feeling you need to go the loo more often; feeling bloated; feeling run down and tired.
There are STI testing clinics all over the UK. Most NHS trusts have a GUM clinic where you can be tested for Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, HIV and anything you have symptoms for.
With some infections, your health can start to deteriorate and you can develop severe pain in the genital and urinary areas. You may compromise your fertility and you can pass infections on to others who may also risk their health. Some infections if diagnosed late or never can cause cancer or death, so it is important to get tested regularly.