What’s the Difference Between an STD and an STI?
Do you know the difference between an STD (sexually transmitted disease) and an STI (sexually transmitted infection)? Most people have heard of STDs, but the term STI is relatively new in comparison. An STD is an infection that is sexually transmitted, but has developed into what is considered a disease. They are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Some examples of STDs are chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, and gonorrhea.
STI, or sexually transmitted infection, is a term often preferred by those working in the healthcare field because there is less of a negative stigma associated with STI than STD. Technically; however, there is a difference. An STI is an infection which has not yet fully developed into what would be considered a disease. For example, if a woman has HPV (human papillomavirus) with no symptoms, she carries the virus and has an STI. If she consequently develops cervical cancer from this infection, she now has an STD as cancer is a disease.
An infection can be differentiated from a disease in that an infection is the stage that occurs before the disease has taken hold of the body. During the infection stage, the virus enters the body and begins to multiply. Once changes occur to the body structure and function, the infection has reached the disease stage. In this way, all STDs start out as STIs.
The only way to find out for sure if you have an STD or STI is to be tested. There are many forms of testing available if you feel you may have contracted an infection or disease from close physical contact with another person. Even if you don’t have symptoms, it is possible that you have contracted an STD or STI if you have engaged in unprotected intercourse. There are different testing methods available for sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Blood tests, urine tests, and oral swab tests are available depending on the particular type of infection. Getting tested is easy. Many people are nervous about getting tested, but it really is better to know your status than to wonder about it. If you do have an STI or STD, you can begin treatment. When people know their status, they don’t unknowingly spread sexually transmitted infections to their sexual partners. Once you have been tested, you have the peace of mind of knowing whether or not you have an STI that could develop into an STD.