There are lots of names for it that have come and gone throughout the decades. During WWI and WWII, it was the euphemistic-laden “venereal disease” or VD (and some people still use it today). By the 1980s, the term “sexually transmitted disease” (STDs) became generally accepted. Now medical terminology have progressed to “sexually transmitted infections” (STIs). There is not a lot of difference between these two terms and most people use them interchangeably. (To learn more about the difference between STIs and STDs, visit the Condom Monologues for a semantic breakdown.)
Despite all these different names, the meaning of STI/STD remains fundamentally the same.
From The STD Project, Jenelle Marie defines STIs as “infections that are commonly/have a high probability of being spread from person to person through unprotected intimate contact…Some STIs can also be transmitted via the sharing of IV drug needles after their use by an infected person as well as through childbirth or breastfeeding.”
STIs do not “prefer” one gender over another- no matter your gender, race, economic class, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, or relationship type- we are all susceptible to infections when we engage in sexual contact. Read more on what sexual activities put you at risk for different infections.
What is sexual contact?
The key is to understand what is meant by “sexual contact”. Now, this term is much broader than vaginal or anal penetration. Here Jenelle Maries unpacks its meaning:
BY JENELLE MARIE | theSTDProject.com
Sexual contact can encompass kissing, oral-genital contact, and the use of sexual ‘toys’, such as vibrators.
Most people think that kissing is a safe activity.
Even so, herpes, mononucleosis and other infections can be contracted through this relatively simple and often harmless act.
The use of condoms is commonly thought to protect against STIs, but it’s important to remember, all forms of sexual contact carry some risk. Although condoms can be very useful in decreasing the spread of certain fluid-borne infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, they do not fully protect against other infections contracted via skin-to-skin contact such as herpes, genital warts, syphilis, and molluscum contagiosum.
Many STIs are treatable or manageable, but effective cures are lacking for others, such as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), HPV (human papillomavirus), HSV (herpes simplex virus) and hepatitis B & C. Even gonorrhea, once easily cured, has become resistant to many of the older traditional antibiotics.
STIs can be present in and spread by people who do not have any symptoms of the condition and have not yet been diagnosed.
Therefore, decreasing stigma via public awareness and education about these infections and the methods used to help prevent them is incredibly important.
Read the full article here.
THE STD PROJECT is a multi-award-winning independent website and progressive movement eradicating STD stigma by facilitating and encouraging awareness, education, and acceptance through story-telling and resource recommendations. Fearlessly led by Founder, Jenelle Marie, The STD Project is committed to modern-day sexual health and prevention by advocating for conscientious and informed decisions. Find them on twitter @theSTDProject