The difference between STDs and STIs explained

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There are an estimated 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections in the United States each year, the says Office for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. While some forms of prevention, including condoms, can reduce the risk of these infections, there is alarming data statistics shows that many sexually active individuals do not use them. Access to information is one of the first lines of defense sexually active adults have against life-changing and life-threatening STDs. Yet many adults don’t know this basic knowledge: the differences between STDs and STDs.

The terms “STIs” and “STDs” are often used interchangeably, but they are far from the same thing. Understanding the language surrounding sexually transmitted infections and diseases—and how they are diagnosed and treated—can empower you on your medical journey if you are ever diagnosed. So, when it comes to STDs and STDs, here’s what you need to know.

STIs vs. STDs

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Although many people use the terms interchangeably, STIs actually predate and can cause STDs. All STDs are the results of STIs. However, not all STIs become STDs. If diagnosed and treated early enough, STIs can go away and never develop into an STD. However, if left untreated, some STIs can damage cells in the body that ultimately disrupt important bodily processes. Listed below are some of the most common types of STDs and the STDs that they can develop into.

  • HIV and AIDS. HIV is the infection that, if left untreated, can become AIDS. However, not everyone diagnosed with HIV will get AIDS. It is important that people at risk of HIV are tested regularly. Hiv.gov reports that one in seven people infected with HIV does not know they have it. Diagnosing HIV early can reduce the chance of the infection turning into AIDS.
  • Chlamydia and pelvic inflammatory disease. Chlamydia is the STI that can progress to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is an infection of one or more of the upper reproductive organs. It can lead to scarring of the fallopian tubes and an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy.
  • gonorrhea and PID. Gonorrhea is another STI that can cause PID.
  • Trichomoniasis and PID. Trichomoniasis can also lead to PID.
  • Syphilis and tertiary syphilis. Syphilis is an STI that, if left untreated, can turn into tertiary syphilis. Tertiary syphilis is a late-stage form of syphilis that can lead to complications such as damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, liver, bones, joints, and even the brain.
  • HPV and cancer. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to various types of cancer, including cervical, anal, vaginal, vulvar, and penile cancer.

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