Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) | Overview

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What are sexually transmitted infections?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections you can get by having sex with someone who has an infection. These infections are usually passed from person to person through vaginal intercourse, but they can also be passed through anal sex, oral sex or skin-to-skin contact. STIs can be caused by viruses or bacteria. STIs caused by viruses include hepatitis B, herpes, HIV and the human papilloma virus (HPV). STIs caused by bacteria include chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

How do I know if my partner has an STI?

Ask. Although it may be uncomfortable, talk to your partner before having any sexual contact. Ask if he or she is at risk for having an STI. Some of the risk factors are having sex with several partners, using injected drugs and having had an STI in the past. To be safe, protect yourself no matter what the person says. You must also tell your partner if you have an STI. You aren't doing yourself or your partner any favors by trying to hide it.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 01/00

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