If you want to know how to not catch an STI or STD, here are some top things to remember:

  • Do not engage in unprotected sex.
  • Always use a condom – no exceptions!
  • Many STD’s and STI’s can be cured but some can be with you for life.
  • Drugs and alcohol can affect your judgement regarding safe sex.
  • Get tested regularly to prevent infecting your future partners.

A Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), also known as Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), is any infection caused by a virus, bacteria or fungus.  It is transmitted during sexual contact.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s and STI’s) can cause symptoms such as:

  • a discharge of fluid or pus from the genitals
  • pain during urination
  • bleeding
  • pelvic pain
  • skin ulcers or irritation
  • redness
  • itching of the genitals and genital area

Frequently, people with STDs and STIs do not know that they are infected. Often there are no signs or symptoms present to show that a person is carrying an infection.

Risky sexual practices include: unprotected sex, vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex, any activity which causes an exchange of bodily fluids or material (urine and faeces), sex with multiple partners, sex with people you do not know or who may also have had sex with other people, sharing sex toys or engaging in any practice where you may have come into contact with the blood, vaginal fluid, semen (cum) or saliva of another person. Also, remember that some infections such as Genital Warts (HPV) and Herpes (HSVI and II) can be spread by skin to skin contact only.

Other practices which can lead to the transmission of infections can include drug use, sharing of needles, tattooing with unsterilised equipment and blood transfusions where the blood has not been properly screened.

The only way to be sure you are not carrying any STD or STI is to get tested. If an infection is diagnosed, it can be treated and managed and the spread of the infection can be stopped. If an STD or STI is left undetected and untreated, the consequences can range from discomfort to infertility to death.

Remember also, that it is particularly important that pregnant woman get tested as many STD’s and STI’s can be passed from mother to foetus or the baby during the birth process.

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