What are sexually transmitted infections?

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) is the general term for a number of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that can be spread from person to person, primarily through sexual contact. Some of the more common STIs in Australia are Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and the Human Papillomavirus (genital warts). STIs happen, and there are a range of treatments and preventative strategies you can use to minimise their impact on your healthy sex life. The simplest strategy you can introduce is regular sexual health testing. Sexual health tests are available across Canberra from a range of providers. Find out more here. HIV is an STI and you can find more information about it here.

Many STIs can be stopped or reduced from spreading by using barrier methods of protection like a male or female condom with water-based lubricant, dental dam or latex gloves. These methods do not stop all STIs, so it is important to pay attention to any changes such as persistent itches, blisters, rashes, or pain or unusual discharges from the penis, vagina or anus. It's also really important to remember that barrier protection isn't just for penetrative sex. 

Because there are often no symptoms for STIs, getting a sexual health check-up is the only way to know if you have any for sure. If you think that you have an STI, get a check-up as soon as possible. If you think you have been exposed to HIV, find out more about PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) here. 

Some STIs can have long-term impacts on your health, including damage to your immune system, becoming cancerous or even making people infertile. If you have an STI and don’t know, you might unknowingly pass it on to someone else. Only testing will let you know for sure, and helps you protect yourself and the people you have sex with. 

If you have sex with casual partners, regular sexual health check-ups are an important part of looking after your health, and your partners' sexual health. The more partners you have, the more often you should get tested. It is recommended that you get tested every three to six months if you have casual sex. 

The Drama Downunder website is a useful resource for understanding STIs, and especially the interaction of HIV and other STIs.

Did you know the average length of time a guy does not know he has HIV is 3 years? Find out more about testing at Time to Test.


If you want to find out more about sexual health testing in the ACT, you can also call our office on 02 6257 2855 during business hours to speak to a member of our team. 

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AIDS Action Council acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past and present.


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