STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are infections transmitted through close body contact, including anal, vaginal and oral sex or touching your partner's penis, anus or vagina.
STIs can be viruses (HIV, genital and anal herpes, genital and anal warts, hepatitis A, B, C), bacteria (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, LGV syphilis, shigella), fungi (thrush), or parasites (crabs, scabies).
Having an STI increases the risk of getting or passing on the HIV infection.
Signs and symptoms
Many STIs have minor or no symptoms, so you may have an STI and not know about it. Signs that you may have an STI include:
- unusual discharge from your penis, vagina or anus
- itching or stinging when urinating
- sores, blisters or rashes in the genital area.
Testing is the only way to find if you have an STI.
If you are having sex with casual partners, it is a good idea to get tested at least once a year. Men having sex with several partners should get tested every 3 to 6 months.
If you are in a new relationship, even a monogamous one, you should get tested as you may have an STI from a previous partner.
For more information on STIs and testing, see The Drama Downunder.
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