April is STD Awareness Month and we believe it is time to focus on this important topic. According to the WHO (World Health Organization) around 1 million STIs are acquired every day worldwide. STIs, STDs, VDs … Everyone heard of these terms while growing up and exploring their sexual life.
What do they actually mean and what is the difference between them? Let’s dive in!
STI stands for sexually transmitted infection. It happens when a sexually transmitted bacteria or virus enters the body and starts to multiply.
STD stands for sexually transmitted disease. This happens when a sexually transmitted infection is not treated and develops into a disease.
VD stands for venereal disease. It has the same meaning as STD but because of the stigma created around this word (in the past this disease was thought to affect only sex workers and sailors, bringing therefore a negative connotation) now STD/STI is predominately used. Venereal refers mostly to sexual intercourse, but STIs can be acquired also through skin to skin contact, therefore it is not an accurate representation of infections related to sexual activities.
When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, they all start as infections. Yet not all STIs develop into an STD. Short, an STI is only considered an STD when it causes symptoms.
The transmission of an STIs can happen through skin-to-skin contact with a person who has an infection; others are transmitted through an exchange of bodily fluids, like semen, vaginal secretions, or blood.
The main curable STIs are as follows: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomoniasis.
Other STIs that can develop into dangerous diseases are:
HIV. To find out more about how HIV developed in humans and why it still doesn’t have a cure, read our HIV dedicated article
HPV. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, therefore we dedicated an entire month to this topic. Read in our blog what HPV is, how you can prevent it, available screening methods and the experience of living with cervical cancer.
Although the prevalence of STIs is very high, it still remains a neglected field.
Half of the STIs happen to sexually active young adults between 15 and 24 years old, with preponderance in developing countries. Up to 90% of STIs are transmitted in developing countries, where access to prevention and diagnostic measures is lower than in developed countries.
Even though many STIs are curable, if they are not treated in time, they lead to health complications, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy , infertility, chronic pelvic pain, neurological and cardiovascular diseases
STIs acquired during pregnancy can cause fetal (inside the womb) or neonatal (newborn) death, premature delivery, eye infections, pneumonia and neonatal encephalitis (neurological dysfunction caused by the lack of oxygen to the baby during birth)