Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Prevention | Testing
Treatment | Common STIs

Sexually transmitted infections or STIs (sometimes referred to as sexually transmitted diseases or STDs) pass from one person to another through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. They also can spread through intimate physical contact like heavy petting, though this is not very common.

STIs don’t always cause symptoms or may only cause mild symptoms so it’s possible to have an infection and not know it. That’s why getting an STI test is important if you are having sex. If you receive a positive STI diagnosis, know that all are treatable with medicine and some are curable entirely.

(Source: CDC STDs)

STIs affect people of all ages and from all walks of life. In the U.S. alone there are about 20 million new cases each year, about half of which are in young people ages 15-24 years.

Prevention

The best way to avoid getting an STI is to not have sex. If you do decide to have sex, condoms that are USED CORRECTLY are the only widely available, proven method for reducing transmission of HIV and other STIs. Remember, it only takes a single sex act to contract an STI.

There are currently vaccinations to prevent three sexually transmitted infections: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and HPV. There are also medications you can take before and after sexual contact with an infected partner to prevent contracting HIV.

Learn more about STI Prevention & Vaccinations along with details on the RI Department of Health’s important Vaccinate Before You Graduate program of free vaccinations for middle and high school students.

Testing

Getting tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and Hepatitis C is important for sexually active people and their partners. Have an honest and open conversation with your partner. The safe and responsible thing to do is both of you getting tested for STIs BEFORE having sexual contact with each other. If you’re not sure how to talk to your partner, here are some tips for starting the conversation.

There are many places to get tested for an STI in Rhode Island, with some of them able to provide testing at low or no-cost. Talk to your own doctor about testing or you can find other options for testing by city or town here.

Testing is generally covered by health insurance but can be paid for out of pocket, which may be hundreds of dollars. If you can’t afford to pay and don’t have health insurance, you may be eligible to get free or low-cost care at one of the clinical providers listed below. Contact them directly to determine your eligibility.

Tell Your Partner(s)!

If you test positive for an STI, it is also important that you notify any and all sexual partners you have had since contracting it. If you feel more comfortable letting partners know via an anonymous service so they don’t know it’s you, you can use the Tell Your Partner service to let them know they need to get tested.

Treatment

Some STIs can be cured with antibiotics, including syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. Other STIs, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV), HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV) are not curable, but they can be treated.

To make sure your treatment works, don’t share your medicine with anyone, and avoid having sex again until you and your sex partner(s) have each completed treatment. If you are diagnosed with an STI, it’s important to tell your partners to get checked so that you don’t get re-infected. 

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Common STIs

Chlamydia

Gonorrhea

Hepatitis

Herpes

HIV/AIDS

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pubic Lice (Crabs)

Syphilis

Trichomoniasis

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