Stony Brook Medicine Health News

What Does STI Stand For?

Understanding STIs is important for sexual health and stopping their spread. By knowing how they transmit and recognizing signs of infection, you can wisely choose prevention methods and know when to seek testing.

What Does STI Stand For?

STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection. These are infections that are primarily spread through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. 

Bacteria, viruses, or parasites can cause STIs, and they can affect anyone sexually active. Understanding the risks associated with STIs and taking steps to protect yourself and your partner(s) from infection is important.

STI vs. STD: What’s the Difference?

STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease, while STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection. 

The terms are often used interchangeably, but healthcare professionals and educators use STI to reduce the stigma associated with sexually transmitted conditions and define them most accurately.

An infection occurs when a pathogen, such as a bacterium or virus, enters the body and starts multiplying. A disease, on the other hand, refers to a condition that impairs normal bodily functions and produces recognizable symptoms. 

In the context of sexually transmitted conditions, an individual can be infected with a pathogen without developing symptoms or complications. In most cases, treatments will prevent the spread of STIs and long-term harm.

Types of STIs

There are several STIs that are spread through sexual contact. They can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or other organisms. 

The most common types of STIs include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Herpes (HSV-1 and HSV-2)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Pubic lice (crabs)
  • Scabies

Signs of STIs

Recognizing the signs of STIs is essential for early detection and treatment. However, not everyone with an STI experiences symptoms. If you suspect you’ve been exposed to an STI, it’s important to get tested promptly to prevent silent, long-term damage and further transmission.

Some potential signs of STIs include:

  • Unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Sores, bumps, or blisters on or around the genital area
  • Itching or irritation in the genital area
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Pain or swelling in the testicles
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and body aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin area
  • Rash on the body, including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet

Symptoms can vary depending on the type of STI and individual factors. Always consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment if you experience any concerning symptoms or have been exposed to an STI.


How Easy Is It to Catch an STD?

Contracting an STI/STD can occur through sexual contact with an infected person, sharing needles, or from mother to baby during childbirth or breastfeeding. The ease of transmission varies depending on the specific STD and individual circumstances. Practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly will reduce the risk of transmission.

Do STDs Live on Surfaces?

STDs generally do not survive for long periods outside the body, especially on surfaces. However, some STDs like herpes and HPV can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, so it’s important to practice good hygiene and use protection during sexual activity to prevent transmission.

When Should You Test for an STD?

It’s recommended to get tested for STDs regularly if you’re sexually active, even if you don’t have symptoms. Symptoms of STIs can be vague and overlap between diseases. Testing is especially important if you’ve had unprotected sex, a new sexual partner, or symptoms like unusual discharge, pain, or sores in the genital area. 

Do STDs Go Away?

STDs generally do not go away on their own. They often require medical treatment to resolve. Some STDs can be cured with antibiotics, while others, like herpes and HIV, have no cure but can be managed with treatment. Leaving STIs untreated can lead to serious health complications and the potential spread of infection to others. It’s essential to get tested and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for follow-up care.

At the Stony Brook STI Center, we offer comprehensive STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for preventing HIV infection, and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) after exposure to HIV. If you suspect that you have already contracted a sexually transmitted illness, our STI Center offers quick testing, diagnosis, and treatment. 

This article is intended to be general and/or educational in nature. Always consult your healthcare professional for help, diagnosis, guidance and treatment.