Understanding the Difference Between STI and STD

Not everyone with an infection has symptoms, and since technically there is no disease without symptoms, the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) states that the term STI is the most accurate from a scientific point of view. The name change was made to be more precise and address stigma. According to ASHA, “the disease suggests a medical problem associated with clear signs and symptoms. Because several of the most common sexually transmitted viruses have few or no signs or symptoms, it's more accurate to call them infections rather than diseases.”In addition, the use of STIs instead of STDs reflects the reality that not all sexually transmitted infections become a disease.

For example, most women who get HPV won't develop cervical cancer and, in fact, most cases of HPV go away on their own over time. While most people use the two terms interchangeably, there is a difference. Venereal disease has already been changed to a sexually transmitted disease. Now, many people prefer to use the term sexually transmitted infection (STI). Perhaps in another 50 years, another term will be introduced.

The reason for changing after years of referring to all sexually transmitted diseases as STDs is to improve accuracy and reduce stigma. STI is more accurate in most cases. In addition, STD is an acronym that causes some people to cringe thanks to years of poor sex education and poor after-school specials. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are diseases that result from STIs and therefore suggest a more serious problem. All STDs start as infections.

Pathogens enter the body and begin to multiply. When these pathogens disrupt normal body functions or damage body structures, they become STDs. However, some STIs may never turn into diseases. For example, most cases of HPV go away on their own without causing health problems. In these cases, HPV is an STI. If the HPV infection develops into genital warts or cervical cancer, it is considered an STD. Diseases that are transmitted through sexual contact are generally referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

However, in recent years, many experts in this area of public health have suggested replacing STDs with a new term sexually transmitted infection (STI).Learning about STDs can begin with understanding the importance of terms used in sexual health discussions, for example, STIs vs. STDs. Second, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), untreated STDs can cause lasting harm to health, including reproductive problems, chronic pain, cancer, fetal and perinatal problems, and an increased risk of contracting HIV. Another option is mutual monogamy between people who have no previous sexual experience or who are free of STIs and STDs. Despite the overwhelming prevalence of STIs and STDs among young people, the stigma of contracting an infection or illness prevents people from getting tested.

While this agreement doesn't eliminate all risks, it can significantly limit exposure to STIs and STDs. Sexually active people can protect their health by scheduling regular doctor visits and getting tested for STIs and STDs regularly. In addition, many universities offer confidential, non-judgmental health care through campus health centers where students can get tested for STDs, schedule appointments with trained nurses at reduced prices, have access to free condoms and other safe sexual supplies, and get information specific to certain ITS and its symptoms and treatment. It's important to remember that contracting an STI or an STD isn't the end of the world and that your life—including your love life—will continue. In addition, people can benefit from prevention tips and resources to turn to if they suspect they have an STD. According to the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA), a growing number of public health experts believe that the term STD can mislead people because “the disease suggests that a person has an obvious medical problem which is not always the case”. The good news is that most STDs can be prevented and the risk of getting them can be reduced with vaccines.

Ethel Kosowski
Ethel Kosowski

Passionate explorer. Avid pop culture evangelist. Amateur food buff. Amateur pop culture lover. Amateur beer trailblazer.

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