Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that are spread by sex (anal, oral and vaginal), and in some cases, by non-penetrative sexual contact (such as sharing sex toys, sexual touching, close skin-to-skin contact).
Some are easy to get rid of and some you can’t get rid of but you can get treatment.
Using condoms and dental dams can help to protect you against STIs. Take a look at BASHH’s safer sex advice for more information on how to protect yourself against STIs.
Symptoms: No symptoms, discharge, pain when weeing, bleeding between periods or after sex
Test: A urine sample or swab
Treatment: Easily treated with antibiotic tablets
Read more about chlamydia on the nhs.uk website
Symptoms: No symptoms, discharge, bleeding between periods
Test: A urine sample or swab
Treatment: Easily treated with an injection
Read more about gonorrhoea on the nhs.uk website
Symptoms: No symptoms, sore on genitals, rash on palms of hands and soles of feet
Test: A blood sample
Treatment: Usually treated by an injection in each bum cheek
Read more about syphilis on the nhs.uk website
Symptoms: Often no symptoms, possible to have a flu-like illness a few weeks after infection
Test: A fingerprick test or a blood sample, depending where you go for the test
Treatment: There is no cure but HIV can be treated and controlled with antiretroviral drugs. If you’re on effective treatment you can expect to lead a normal life and can’t pass on HIV to anyone else.
Read more about HIV on the nhs.uk website
Read more about how to prevent HIV (including PrEP and PEP) on tht.org.uk
Symptoms: Lumps, bumps or growths around genital/anal area
Test: Doctor/nurse will look at affected area
Treatment: Treatment is available to get rid of the warts, like using a cream or freezing them off. There is no treatment that cures genital warts, but it’s possible for your body to fight the
virus over time
Read more about genital warts on the nhs.uk website
Symptoms: Blisters, sores around the genital/anal area
Test: Doctor/nurse will look at affected area and run a swab over any sores
Treatment: There is no cure but you can ease symptoms and stop the virus from multiplying with anti-viral tablets.
Read more about genital herpes on the nhs.uk website
Some other infections and conditions can cause similar symptoms to STIs. These can include thrush, bacterial vaginosis and genital dermatology conditions (things like dry skin or rashes around your genitals). If you think your infection is not sexually transmitted (e.g. you’re not sexually active), we recommend visiting a pharmacy or your GP in the first instance as we may not be able to treat you.
You can also find more information on other types of sexually transmitted infections such as; Shigella, Pubic lice, Non-gonococcal urethritis, and Scabies here.
‘Your Guide to STIs’ for Black, Asian and Minoritized Communities
BHA for Equality has produced Your Guide to STIs for Black, Asian and Minoritized Communities, who are disproportionately affected by STIs. The guide is available in English, Urdu, Portuguese, and Farsi.
Visit our important information for professionals page of the website for useful links and more.