STI stands for sexually transmitted infection. It has been formerly known as STD (sexually transmitted disease) or VD (veneral disease). They all refer to the same thing. STI’s are the part of sex that is least talked about. Unless you know your partner’s entire sexual history, you cannot be sure that they do not have an STI and therefore should protect yourself (by using a condom).
Examples of different kinds of STIs include Syphilis, Genital Herpes, Hepatitis B, HIV, Urethritis, Trichomoniasis and HIV. Although there is a lot of hype about HIV and AIDS, the commonest STI is Chlamydia. In the Wandsworth area, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates are high and, unfortunately, on the increase.
A lot of the symptoms that people suffer from resulting from an STI are similar. You should be concerned if you notice any of the following:
Vaginal or urethral discharge (usually a strange smell or colour)
Abnormal bleeding/ periods (girls only obviously)
Ulcers or warts in the genital area
Rash & itchiness in the genital area
Swollen groin glands
Having said this, up to 40% of people suffering from an STI may be asymptomatic (meaning that they do not suffer from any of the above). You must remember that it is not possible to tell just by looking at someone if they are free from an STI. It is also possible to have more than one STI at once.
Most STI’s are easily curable with antibiotics and creams, often with full recovery, which is made easier if they are detected early. It is therefore very important to be screened if you even have the slightest feeling you may be at risk. This can either be done at a family planning clinic, GUM clinic or by your GP.