Sexual health

What are Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs)?

  • STIs are infections passed from one person to another during sexual contact
  • STIs can infect many areas of the body
  • STIs are caused by microscopic organisms such as bacteria, viruses or parasites
  • STIs do not always cause signs or symptoms

What activities put me at risk of STIs?
Having vaginal or anal sex without a condom (unprotected sex) can put you at risk of getting an STI. You can also get some STIs from unprotected oral sex. Some activities put you at greater risk than others. Riskier activities include unprotected sex:

  • with casual partners (the more partners, the greater the risk)
  • with a partner who has had unprotected sex with casual partners
  • when travelling outside Australia
  • with a person who has had unprotected sex outside Australia
  • with a partner who has injected drugs

Men who have unprotected anal sex with other men are also at higher risk.
You may want to know more about STIs or you may be concerned that you have an STI. Listed below are short descriptions of STIs that link to more detailed information.
Bacterial Vaginosis

  • The normal, healthy vagina contains many different types of bacteria.
  • In BV the balance of the different types of bacteria is changed, leading to an overgrowth of some and a decrease in others. This usually results in a change to a woman’s vaginal discharge.
  • BV is not sexually transmitted.

Chlamydia

  • Chlamydia is a very common infection that mainly infects the penis, vagina and anus
  • Most people who have Chlamydia do not have symptoms so they do not know they have it
  • Simple treatment with antibiotics is the best treatment

Genital Warts

  • Genital warts are a very common STI
  • The wart virus, which has many different strains, is transmitted by skin to skin contact during genital sex.
  • Treatment with liquid nitrogens quickly treats the infection

Gonorrhoea

  • Gonorrhoea is a bacteria that infects the penis, vagina, anus and throat
  • You can have gonorrhoea without knowing it as not everyone gets symptoms.
  • The most common symptom is a discharge from the penis, vagina or anus.
  • Treatment with antibiotics cures the infection

Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis A is an acute (short term) viral infection that affects the liver.
  • Hepatitis A may also be spread sexually if there is anal contact with a person who has this infection.

Hepatitis B

  • Hepatitis B is a viral infection that results in inflammation of the liver.
  • It can be passed on by unprotected vaginal or anal sex, by .sharing drug injecting equipment or during unsterile tattooing or body piercing.

Hepatitis C

  • Hepatitis C is a viral infection that affects the liver. It is spread by blood to blood contact. The risk of transmission during sex is very unlikely unless blood is present.

Herpes

  • Genital herpes is a very common STI.
  • It is caused by a virus, which is transmitted by skin to skin contact during genital or oral sex.
  • The virus may cause blisters or sores on the skin but some people don’t get any symptoms.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

  • HIV is a viral infection that breaks down the body’s natural defences against infections by weakening the immune system. It can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • HIV is in the blood, vaginal secretions and semen of a person with the virus and is passed on by vaginal or anal sex without a condom or by sharing drug injecting equipment.