Most patients say “STDs” in health centers, and more people search for “STDs” than “STIs” online. That's why some educators, providers and health organizations continue to choose to use STDs because it's the term most people know. It's totally OK to use the terms interchangeably, Dr. H.
Hunter Handsfield, professor emeritus of medicine at the Center for AIDS and STDs at the University of Washington, explains to Health. In everyday uses of the term, there is no real difference, he says. Although STIs and STDs are not the same thing in specific medical terminology, the two terms have become synonymous. For this reason, you'll find that most places that offer sexual health information and confidential STI testing are still using the traditional term.
Nearly 11% described STDs in terms such as “rude,” “scary” or “embarrassing,” compared to nearly 5% of those surveyed who described STIs, a small but interesting difference. You'll find many texts (even in medical journals) that use STIs and STDs interchangeably when talking about the same thing. In the past century, there was debate over whether to help soldiers prevent STDs or whether it was better for them to suffer the consequences of having unprotected sex in order for them to learn their lesson. Even if you don't have symptoms, contact a nearby urgent care clinic and ask if they offer lab services, such as same-day testing for STDs.
While there is technically a difference between a disease and an infection, it doesn't matter if you get an STI or an STI; that shouldn't change the tests, treatment, or other steps you take to protect yourself and your sexual partners. In fact, for people without insurance, these low-cost health clinics are one of the only places where rapid testing for STDs is done. When these pathogens alter normal body functions or damage body structures, they become sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, people can benefit from prevention tips and resources to turn to if they suspect they have an STI.
Gynecologist Jen Gunter writes about how a diagnosis of an STI, like no other disease except cancer, has the unique power to make a patient cry. Second, according to the CDC, untreated STDs can cause lasting damage to health, including reproductive problems, chronic pain, cancer, fetal and perinatal problems, and an increased risk of contracting HIV. If you're an STI or an STI, you'll need to continue taking the same steps to protect yourself and your partner, such as having an open conversation about your sexual history, using condoms, and getting tested for STIs regularly.
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