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Sexually transmitted infections (STI)

Sexually transmitted infections (or STIs) are infections that can be caught or passed on when you have unprotected sex, or close sexual contact, with another person who already has an STI.

Using a condom for all types of sex is the best way to avoid STIs and HIV. Vaccines can prevent certain STIs like genital warts and hepatitis B. Reducing the number of sexual partners you have and not mixing alcohol, drugs and sex also means you’re less likely to get infected.

STIs should not be diagnosed yourself by looking at pictures, because symptoms vary from person to person. Only a healthcare professional can diagnose an STI.

Find out more here about different STIs, their symptoms, testing and treatment options and how to protect yourself from them.

Next full review: 
25 November 2018

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chlamydia in a human cell
Chlamydia often has no symptoms so test regularly if you are sexually active.

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Herpes virus
Genital herpes causes sores that are really infectious. Get treated quickly.

Genital warts

Human papilloma virus (HPV)
Genital warts can be passed on by unprotected sex and skin-to-skin contact.

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Gonorrhoeae bacteria
Gonorrhoea is very similar to chlamydia, but less common and causes unusual discharge.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis virus
Hepatitis B is very infectious and can seriously affect your liver. It has flu-like symptoms.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C virus
Hepatitis C is also passed on through sharing dirty needles. Symptoms are not obvious.

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Syphilis bacteria
Without treatment, syphilis can lead to serious health issues. Always use a condom.

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Trichomoniasis parasite
Trichomoniasis is caused by tiny parasites that can infect the vagina or urethra.

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Last updated:
16 February 2017
Next full review:
25 November 2018