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Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are terms that refer to illnesses which are transmitted from one person to another through unprotected oral or anal sex. Some well-known STIs are gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, herpes and hepatitis – you may have heard of them before!

They are very common and often don’t show any symptoms. However, having no symptoms doesn’t mean that it’s not infectious! An infected person is still able to pass them to their sexual partners, even if they feel fine. If an STI is left untreated, it can affect you seriously, and may even develop into a life-threatening condition.


Someone who has been infected by an STI may show some of the following:

  • Pain, swelling, redness or sores at the cock, balls or anus
  • Itching, pain or discomfort when peeing, or having bowel movements
  • Discharge from the penis or anus
  • Fever, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, or diarrhoea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • …Or they may not show any symptoms at all!



The good news is that most STIs are curable or treatable, normally with a short course of medication, or are preventable with vaccines.


Read more
These medications can be given in the form of:

    • Tablets or pills
    • Injections
    • Creams or ointments
    • Liquids

    However, prevention is still better than cure, so always remember to take steps toprotect yourself and your partner when having oral or anal sex.

    Read more on how you can stay safe here.


What’s my risk?

If you’re HIV-negative, an untreated STI may spread damage other organs in your body, and greatly increases the risk of being infected by HIV. That’s why it’s necessary to know your status by regularly getting tested and seeking treatment if you’re tested positive.

If you’re living with HIV, it’s very important to be aware of STIs as well. Having HIV and another STI increases the infectiousness of both conditions, and leaving it untreated can affect you more severely than normal. If you think you may have contracted an STI, talk to a doctor as soon as possible about advice on testing and treatment.

Whatever your situation is, it’s always reassuring to speak to a healthcare professional about any issues you may have. Use our Clinic Finder to find a sexual health clinic near you.



What should I do if I think I might have an STI?
If you think you might have an STI, go in for a test as soon as possible, and avoid having sex until after you finish treatment.

Click here to find a clinic near you.

What symptoms do STIs have?

Most of the time, men do not show symptoms when they’re infected with STIs. That’s why it’s very important to get tested for STIs regularly.

Some people may notice symptoms – if you notice any of the symptoms below, it’s important to seek medical treatment right away. Find a clinic near you using our Clinic Finder.  


  • Discharge from the penis or anus
  • Pain or discomfort while peeing
  • Itchiness or redness in the genital area
  • Sores, blisters, warts or ulcers around the mouth, anus or in the genital area.
How do I protect myself from STIs?

Protecting yourself from STIs is simple:

  • Always remember to use condoms when having sex, as they are the only physical way to stop yourself from being infected. Read about condoms here.
  • Get a full STI profile test at least once every six months, and more often if you’re sexually active. Read about getting tested here.
I’m on PrEP – should I worry about STIs?

Yes! As PrEP is only effective in preventing HIV infection, and not other STIs, you must always use protection where there may be a risk. Read more about PrEP here.

Need more information now? Check out our downloadable STI fact sheets below.