Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

The term "sexually transmitted infection" (STI) is now commonly used instead of "sexually transmitted disease" (STD), as it is broader in meaning. It refers to a range of very common infections contracted during sexual contact. Anyone who has intercourse can develop an STI, regardless of their sexual practices, just as anyone may develop an infection of their respiratory system (flu, pneumonia, etc.), digestive (gastroenteritis, etc.) or other system. Terms like "venereal disease" are now used infrequently.

STIs can be caused by different infectious agents and do not all respond to the same treatment.


Human Papillomavirus (HPV): Responsible for genital warts (condylomata) in men and women. This is the most common form of STI. In women, the virus can cause precancerous and cancerous lesions of the cervix, vagina and vulva (see separate section on HPV infection).

Herpes simplex (HSV): There are two known types - HSV1 and HSV2 - and they are responsible for oral or genital herpes respectively. A recommended Internet site is, which gives clear explanations of preventive measures and treatment.

Hepatitis B Virus: Infection transmitted by blood or sexual contact. Immunization with a vaccine is a very effective preventive measure.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): Can cause AIDS.


Chlamydia and Neisseria gonorrhoeae: Cause chlamydiosis and gonorrhea. These infections can be "silent" and damage internal genital organs such as the fallopian tubes; they may lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain. The doctor can screen for them using samples from the cervix. Antibiotic treatment is very effective.

Treponema: Causes syphilis, a disease that is becoming increasingly common. Diagnosis is made via blood tests, and antibiotics are very effective.


Trichomonas vaginalis: Causes a vaginal infection characterized by abundant greenish, foul-smelling discharge from the vagina. Antibiotics are used as treatment.

For more information on STIs, visit the site
Another useful site is:

Back to the topics of interest list