What you need to know about STIs

Anyone can get an STI by being sexually active. Not having sex is the only way to protect yourself for sure. Not all STIs have symptoms, so it is a good idea to get tested by a doctor.

If you do have an STI, get treatment right away to prevent harmful long-term effects. By getting treatment, you may also prevent giving the STI to others.

To learn more about STIs, talk to your doctor or call the National STI Hotline at 1-800-227-8922 (English) or 1-800-344-7432 (Spanish).

If you live in New York City, you can obtain free and confidential STI services by calling the Department of Health at 212-427-5120.

Confidential STI services are available at DOHMH facilities for non-enrolled sexual and needle-sharing partners at no charge.

CDC National Prevention Information Network website



STIs Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some STI-related questions that individuals regularly ask. To view the answers, click on each of the questions accordion panels.

What exactly are STIs (sexually transmitted infections)?
When you engage in unprotected sex or other close sexual contact with another person, you run the risk of contracting STIs.
What STI warning signs and symptoms are there?
If you believe you may have exposed yourself to a STI, it is important to get tested because many people with STIs don't exhibit any symptoms. 

Signs and symptoms for a woman could be:

  • Changes in the vaginal discharge
  • Pain or stinging while urinating
  • itchiness, soreness, or redness in the genital area
  • Swelling of the genitals, blisters, ulcers, or warts near the genital area
  • Bleeding between periods, bleeding after sex, pain while having sex, and;
  • Abdominal pain are all symptoms of vaginal changes
Since many women experience no symptoms, it's crucial to get checked out if you've had unprotected sex.

Signs and symptoms for a male could be:

  • Pus or discharge coming from the anus or penis;
  • discomfort or a burning sensation during urination;
  • warts, ulcers, or blisters near the genital area.
  • Itching, discomfort, or redness under the foreskin or surrounding the penis;

Prior to visiting the clinic for a checkup, men should strive to hold their urination for at least one hour. This will be useful for tests to determine whether an infection exists.

What are the most common STIs?
Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, genital warts, genital herpes, and non-specific urethritis are examples of common STIs (NSU). Thrush and bacterial vaginosis are two more illnesses that can be brought on by sex, and GUM clinics also offer treatment for these conditions.
Who is susceptible to contracting a STI?
STIs can be acquired or spread by anyone who has oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse. Learn more about how to avoid contracting STIs.
Are STIs prevalent in New York?
Over the past ten years, New York State has seen an increase in the prevalence of several STIs.
How should I proceed if I suspect a STI?

If you believe that you may have put yourself at risk, it is crucial to get checked. Even if you feel healthy, it is important to get tested for STIs because many people with them don't exhibit any symptoms. If you suspect an illness, wait to have sex until you've seen a doctor.

You should visit a licensed facility or your PCP as soon as possible, along with the individual or individuals you had sexual contact with. Learn more about taking a test.

Are STIs difficult to treat?
Most STIs can be treated easily. Each infection has a unique course of treatment. It could consist of lotions, tablets, or injections after speaking with a doctor and having testing done. It's crucial to finish the entire course of treatment.

If your doctor advises against having sex while receiving therapy, you should heed his or her counsel. Both medical care and prescription drugs are free.
What might happen if I don't receive treatment for a STI?

Some STIs can permanently harm your health if they are not treated in a timely manner. You run the danger of spreading the illness.

If you do not receive treatment for a STI, it may lead to a number of serious health consequences, including:
  • infertility;
  • inflammatory illness of the pelvis
  • swelling or discomfort in the testicles;
  • pregnancy-related issues;
  • spreading illnesses to your newborn child;
  • lowered immune capacity;
  • liver injury
  • liver tumors
  • ovarian cancer

STD vs STI: What is the Difference?
The term is the first way that STDs and STIs differ from one another. While STI stands for sexually transmitted infection, STD stands for sexually transmitted disease. A disease and an infection are fundamentally distinct from one another.

Many diseases, although not all, start with infections. Sexually transmitted infections are the precursors to sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually transmitted bacteria or viruses enter the body and start to grow, which then causes infection.

The infection may develop into a disease if the sexually transmitted bacteria or viruses have entered the body. When this outside influence formally interferes with the body's regular processes and functioning, disease results.

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