difference between sti and std

The difference between STD and STI

August 09, 2018

A question which always appears to come up when discussing sexual health is “what's the difference between the terms STI and STD?”. Traditionally, STD was the go-to acronym used when talking about the sexual transmission of bacteria and viruses, whereas now the use of the term STI is becoming more common. This post is going to help diffuse the confusion between these two terms and set the record straight by explaining why the acronyms STD and STI technically differ.

STI and STD, as you probably already know are acronyms standing for Sexually Transmitted Infections and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. STDs and STIs are often used interchangeably and as synonyms, however, they technically differ. Having an STI means that an individual has an infection, and not all sexually transmitted infections turn into a disease. For example, an individual who has contracted and is now a carrier of the Human papillomavirus (HPV), yet has experienced no symptoms, is said to have contracted an infection, where in fact most cases of infection will clear up within two years. However, if an individual develops cancer because of HPV, the individual is now said to have an STD, since cancer is a disease. The same can be said for females who have initially contracted chlamydia or gonorrhoea that has developed into pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

So, what’s the difference between infection and disease? Essentially, infection is the first step of disease and occurs when either viruses, bacteria or microbes enter the body and start multiplying. Disease only occurs when the proliferation of viruses, bacteria or microbes disrupts normal bodily functions or structure, in which case an individual will tend to display symptoms. Medically speaking, STDs start out as STIs.

A valuable lesson to take from this is that not all viruses and bacteria that are sexually transmitted will lead to an individual exhibiting symptoms. Hence why it’s so important for you to get tested! STIs caused by bacterial infections can easily be cleared using antibiotics, and antivirals can be used to contain viral infections to prevent STIs from developing into STDs.


Did you know that many STI's don't have symptoms? If left untreated they can seriously damage your fertility, health and life.

If you’re unsure what to do or if you’re worried about an STI, we’re here to help with safe and easy tests you can do at home.

Don’t risk your health!

ORDER A TEST NOW



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