A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection that is passed from person to person through sex. You can catch one by having sex without using a condom. STIs have names like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, genital warts, herpes, or pubic lice. Unfortunately, they are very common. Luckily, most can be cured with medicine. But some - like herpes, HIV or genital warts (human papillomavirus or HPV) - will always be in your body.
HIV is an important STI for you to know about. It reduces your body’s ability to fight diseases and after some time you may get a disease that kills you. There is no cure for HIV, but there are very good medicines to prevent the virus from multiplying in your body and destroying your immunity (ability to fight diseases) so you remain healthy.
How do you get an STI?
If you are having sex and don’t use a condom every time, you are at high risk of contracting an STI. This can happen with vaginal sex, anal sex (when the penis is inserted in the anus) or oral sex. If you have a small sore, cut or blister in your mouth or around your genitals, this could put you at even greater risk of getting an STI.
You can get an STI if…
- You have any unprotected sex (sex without a condom)
- You have sex with lots of different partners
If you have an STI and don’t treat it, it can cause serious health problems. It’s always best to get help earlier than later.
Respect yourself enough to choose safe sex. This means using a condom correctly each and every time you have sex to prevent catching an STI.
Worried? Visit a health facility near you and speak to a health worker or find the youth corner. They can help and will keep your visit confidential.