You are at risk of getting an STD (sexually transmitted disease) every time you have sex. When you’re sexually active, pregnancy is usually your greatest concern. While pregnancy is something to be very concerned about, STDs are equally, if not more, worrisome.

The Basics

There are now more than a dozen STDs, several of which are chronic, life-long infections. Reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, some at an alarming rate according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [1] STDs continue to affect young people—particularly women–most severely, but increasing rates among men contributed to the overall increases. [2]

What Are STDs?

Sexually transmitted diseases are passed from person to person during sexual activity (for example vaginal, oral and anal sex, outercourse or mutual masturbation). STDs can be transmitted through bodily fluids and, in some cases, skin-to-skin contact.

It’s important to remember you don’t need to be experiencing symptoms to be contagious and not everyone infected with an STD will experience signs of infection. But STDs can still be passed to your partner(s) without your knowledge and can cause severe damage. You can spread the disease at any time.

STDs and STIs… What’s the difference?

The terms STD (sexually transmitted disease) and STI (sexually transmitted infection) are often used interchangeably. But do you know the difference?

STI is the broader of the two terms. All STDs are STIs, though not all STIs become STDs.

The term “STI” (sexually transmitted infection) is used to describe the presence of an infection in the body, which may or may not be accompanied by symptoms. The term “STD” (sexually transmitted diseases) on the other hand, describes an infection that has caused damage in a person’s body—though, like sexually transmitted infections, an STD may or may not be accompanied by symptoms.


Some STIs can be treated and even cured with medications. Early detection is essential for effective treatment. Other STIs cannot be cured, but symptoms can be managed. Being checked for STIs is easy and harmless, and your health and safety is certainly worth it.

We are here to help you

Facing the possibility of a sexually transmitted infection is scary, but you don’t have to go through it alone. If you think you may have an STI, call us to talk with a peer counselor and get a referral for STI testing in your community.

This information is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional counseling and/or medical advice.