What are STIs?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) refer to a group of infections primarily transmitted through sexual contacts. They include common bacterial infections like syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and trichomoniasis and viral infections caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human papillomavirus (HPV) and herpes simplex viruses (HSV).

Globally there are an estimated 1 million STI infections occuring each day. Though curable, bacterial STIs are continuing to spread rapidly in the community. Delayed or missed diagnosis and late or erroneous treatment have led to the development of complications and emergence of resistance bacteria, notably Gonorrhoea.

How are STIs transmitted?

STIs can be spread through 3 ways:

Direct Sexual Contact

Sexual intercourse with an infected person, include vaginal sex (penis-vagina), oral sex (mouth-genital) and anal-sex (penis-anus);

From Mother to Baby

Infected mother to her baby during precnancy or at birth;

Contaminated Blood

by blood transfusion and sharing of contaminated instruments, such as used razor blades, tatoo or acupuncture needles.

STIs are not transmitted through social contacts such as shaking hands, having meals together, using public toilets and towels, swimming in public swimming pools etc.

Am I at High Risk?

Anyone who is sexually active has risk of exposure to STIs, either directly him/herself or through one;s sex partner(s). Listed below are some factors that would increase the risk of getting infected:

  • Number of sex partners: having more sex partners increases the chance of getting STI
  • History of STI: repeated infections are common
  • Unprotected Sex: using a condom or other barrier would reduce the transmission risk of STIs
  • Drug and Alcohol use: misuse of recreational drugs and alcohol may make you easier to engage in risky sex behaviours
  • Age: young people, for example those aged between 15 and 24, could be more susceptible to having STIs