Many of us will get a sexually transmitted infection at some point, even if we have safer sex or sex with only a few people. However, the more people you have sex with the more likely you are to get infections. You’re also more at risk if you don’t use protection such as condoms, dental dams, or latex gloves.


What are Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)?

STIs are infections picked up during sex. They can sometimes be called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

STIs are caused by:

  • Viruses, such as HIV, herpes, hepatitis and warts
  • Bacteria, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea
  • Parasites, such as crabs and scabies

You can sometimes get crabs and scabies without having sex, as they can be picked up from bedding, towels and clothes.


Will safer sex protect me from STIs?

Condoms and dental dams, used correctly, are very good at stopping HIV and other STIs being passed on during anal, vaginal or oral sex.  However, STIs are much easier to catch or pass on than HIV, and some can be spread by other types of sexual contact. 


Do lesbian and bisexual women need to know about STIs?

Contrary to popular belief, lesbian and bisexual women are at risk from STIs. It is really important for women who have sex with women to have a good understanding about how to stay safe during sex. All lesbian and bisexual women can be at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection as there are a variety of ways that STIs can be passed from partner to partner. 


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