STI stands for Sexually Transmissible Infection, or an infection that is passed from person to person during sexual activity. Check out this section for an introduction to STI's then search via the menu on the right for specific ones.

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What's involved in a sexual health check?

Zane thinks he needs a Chlamydia check and books in to his local community health clinic in country Victoria. A humorous clip about what to expect visiting a sexual health clinic, made by young people who found out for themselves just how easy it is to book in and get checked.

  • Author: Smarty and Deadly Koori's
  • Upload Date: 2012-04-23

Created by Smart and Deadly Koori

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Provided by Reach Out

We have partnered with Reach Out to bring you the best factsheet information we can on this topic. Reach Out offers information, support and resources to help young people improve their understanding of mental health issues, develop resilience, and increase their coping skills and help-seeking behaviour.

What is an STI?

STI stands for Sexually Transmissible Infection, or an infection that is passed from person to person during sexual activity. Some of the STIs you might have heard of include:

STI sexually transmitted infectionsAn STI is caused by organisms like viruses, fungi, bacteria or parasites. Different types of STIs need different kinds of treatment. Many STIs are easily treated, like chlamydia and gonorrhoe, but some (like HIV and herpes) are not curable. This means that you can treat some of the symptoms, but you cannot remove the virus from your system.

If untreated, some STIs can cause problems with menstruation, pelvic pain and infertility.
Don't worry! You can still avoid an STI by keeping a few things in mind.

How could I get an STI?

During vaginal, anal or oral sex STIs can be transmitted through the exchange of blood, semen and vaginal fluids, or through skin contact.

Can I protect myself from getting an STI?

Yes you can, in most cases, by practicing safer sex. Massage, touching, kissing and mutual masturbation are ways to get sexual that don't involve contact with (or exchange of) body fluids.

If you're having vaginal, oral or anal sex it's important to use a condom and lube (lubricant) every time. Condoms are the best protection from an STI.

Lube should always be water-based, like KY jelly, because using moisturizer, body lotion or Vaseline can cause the condom to break. Check out the condoms factsheet for useful tips like how to put a condom on properly and how to use the right kind of lube.

For oral sex with women or rimming (licking around the anus) you can use a dam, which is a square of latex that covers the vagina and anus. It is also used for oral sex, by covering the mouth. To use them, you place the dam on top and then lick over it. You can get dams from sexual health clinics or you can make them from a condom by cutting up the middle and opening the condom out into a square.

To use dams correctly; make a mark on one side of the dam with texta or pen and place the marked side on the body. If you accidentally flip it over you're no longer having safe sex.
Condoms will not protect you from some STIs like herpes and HPV, because the condom may not cover the infected area.

How can I tell if I have an STI?

Often, you can't tell. Some people have no symptoms at all, while others can feel sick. Different types of STIs will have different symptoms. Some common symptoms can be itching, rashes, discharge, burning when you wee and sores on the genitals.

Can I tell if somebody else has an STI?

No, you can't always tell. The only way to know for sure is by having an STI check.

I think I might have an STI. What do I do?

The easiest way to find out if you have an infection is to get tested. It's a good idea to have regular sexual health check-ups every year once you start having sex or change sexual partners. Women need to have a pap smear every two years to screen for cell changes on the cervix.  Most GPs offer sexual health checks. You can also find out where you can go for a sexual health check by calling FP NSW Healthline on 1300 65 88 86 to talk to a reproductive and sexual health nurse. Talking to the nurse is confidential and anonymous.

What happens if I have an STI and just leave it? Will it go away?

Most STIs can be quickly and effectively taken care of. If untreated, they can affect your reproductive organs, which can lead to infertility (where you can't have babies). A good example of this is chlamydia, the most common STI among young people. Chlamydia is tricky as often there are no symptoms of the infection.

Young people can have chlamydia and feel fine, but the infection can be growing and lead to long-term problems with your health, like pelvic pain and problem periods. Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics.

If I go to a clinic will they tell my parents?

According to the law you can ask for and agree to medical care for yourself once you are 16 years old. At the sexual health clinic, discussion with you and the information you give the staff is completely confidential. It cannot be shared with your parents or people you know, unless the law requires staff to do so. An example of this would be if health staff thought you were at risk of serious harm. In this case the clinic is required to report this to DOCS (Department of Community Services). Another example might be if your files were required in a Court case. If you are between 14 and 16 you may still be able to agree to your own medical care, but this can vary in individual cases.

More information

For more information on STIs, having a sexual health check-up, and who to talk to in your State, call Healthline 1300 65 88 86, or visit http://www.fpnsw.org.au/


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One Response to “STI’s”

  1. lynz says:

    It would be great to reduce the stigma about STI’s so that we all felt more comfortable getting tested? Have you had a STI check, how did it go? Have you managed a STI – anyone willing to share some insight?

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