Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are those that are transmitted mainly through unprotected sexual contact. Sometimes, some of them can also be transmitted through the birth canal, contact with infected blood or blood products… For their part, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are frequent conditions that can have serious consequences for the health of the population. They are preventable, diagnosable and treatable.
1. What is the difference between STIs and STDs?
We will talk about STIs at the beginning, when a pathogen, virus, bacteria, fungus or parasite is contracted, while if the process evolves, it will become an STD. Therefore, we can have an STI without an STD, but not vice versa. For this reason, the WHO in 1998 modifies the term STD by STI, since the disease concept is not correct to determine those infections that are asymptomatic and go unnoticed.
2. Can it be said that they have increased in recent years?
Indeed, we have to say that in recent years there has been an increase in them. STIs are currently considered a major public health problem due to both their great magnitude and the consequences that can occur if early detection and diagnosis is not carried out.
3. What are the most common infections?
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI in Spain, according to the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, affecting one in four young people. Chlamydia, according to the Carlos III Health Institute, has grown by 654% in Spain, with 131 million people infected each year. Genital herpes is another of the most common STIs. Gonorrhea has increased by 303% in Spain in the last five years, with 78 million infections worldwide each year according to the WHO. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is one of the best-known high-risk sexually transmitted infections, affecting, according to UNAIDS data, 37.9 million people around the world.
4. And what is Chemsex?
It is a phenomenon in which there is the intentional use of drugs for sexual intercourse between men, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men. Chemsex is a phenomenon present in big cities like Madrid or Barcelona. Currently, there is great concern about this growing phenomenon, since it encourages and facilitates both the spread of sexually transmitted infections and the appearance of physical, mental and social problems in the people who put it into practice.
5. How can I get infected?
It’s very simple, all you have to do is have unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected person to be at risk. Just one encounter is enough.
6. If I have an STI, what do I have to do?
These infections may or may not present symptoms, most of them being asymptomatic. Therefore, in the event of risky sexual contact, the health personnel should be consulted.
7. How long does it take to “show face”?
This depends on the incubation period of each of the different infections.
8. What are your biggest complications?
Syphilis, for example, can cause brain damage, blindness, and/or paralysis.
9. How can I protect myself from STIs?
Using barrier methods such as the male condom, which has a medium-high efficacy against sexually transmitted infections. The female condom is the alternative method to the male condom with a greater degree of autonomy in women. The latex sheet is worn between the mouth and the vagina or anus during oral sex to prevent contracting sexually transmitted infections. Finger cots are used to stimulate female genitalia and thus avoid contagion if there are small lesions on the skin of the fingers.