The difference between an STD and an STI might surprise you

Catriona Harvey-Jenner
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

The terms STI (sexually transmitted infection) and STD (sexually transmitted disease) are more-or-less used interchangeably to mean one and the same thing: the contraction of a virus or condition following an unprotected sexual act.

And essentially, the two acronyms do mean the same thing. The likes of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, genital herpes and so on can usually be grouped together and either referred to as an 'STI' or an 'STD'. But according to one gynaecologist, there is a slight difference between the terms.

An STD is symptomatic, Angela Jones, M.D. from Healthy Woman Obstetrics and Gynaecology in New Jersey told Women's Health. An STI, on the other hand, is not. Following that logic, chlamydia - which often fails to present any symptoms at all - would technically be referred to as a sexually transmitted infection, and not a disease.

Photo credit: Getty Images

"Disease simply means that symptoms of said ailment are present and we only describe things as diseases when symptoms are present," Jones told Women's Health.

Using the term STI therefore more accurately describes the sexually transmitted conditions that can exist without symptoms for some time, before they become physically evident.

But there's another benefit of using either STD or STI to describe sexually transmitted conditions as a whole: de-stigmatising them.

"Somehow, infection seems to be a bit more 'palatable'," Teena Chopra, corporate medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at Detroit Medical Centre told Women's Health.

Photo credit: Angela Wyant - Getty Images

And she's right. The word 'disease' can evoke squeamish feelings among people, which can make those with an STD feel ashamed about their condition - something which could prevent them from seeking the treatment they need.

For that reason, the experts may refer to what might technically be deemed a sexually transmitted disease (if symptoms are present), as a sexually transmitted infection - and we're perfectly happy with that.

Read the full story on Women's Health.

Follow Cat on Instagram.

You Might Also Like