What is the difference between an STD and an STI? Both terms are often used interchangeably, and while that usage is not always considered incorrect, there are a few differences between these two terms and what they stand for.

STD is by far the most common term. As you probably know, STD is an acronym for sexually transmitted diseases, and it refers to diseases and infections spread through sexual contact. STI is an acronym for sexually transmitted infections and is also used to refer to infections that are developed through sexual contact.


The rise of The STI initialism is mainly due to an attempt to be more apparent that these infections are understood and discussed. The main reason for differentiating between sexually transmitted diseases and infections is that not all infections will lead to disease and not all sexually transmitted infections have obvious STD symptoms; diseases, by definition, must cause symptoms. What’s more, there are STIs that can be treated (or will clear up on their own) without resulting in disease.

So, let’s break down that first reason: Not all infections will result in disease. Medically speaking, you don’t contract diseases; you contract an infection that could potentially lead to disease. For example, lots of folks who contract HPV ever exhibit any symptoms or develop any conditions related to the infection. In some cases, the infection will cure on its own without treatment. However, some HPV can cause certain kinds of cancer or contribute to the development of warts. In this case, the infection is deemed to have advanced to or lead to the development of a disease.

STI is a more appropriate term to use rather than STD if there are no symptoms observed. Medical specialists describe diseases as causing symptoms, and various infections generally referred to as STDs can be asymptomatic. For example, an individual could contract the herpes virus but not show signs or have a disorder for months or even years. While the infection is still asymptomatic, it would be perceived as an infection. It might be considered a disease once the infection starts to develop into outbreaks.

STIs rising fast wakeup call

Another reason to change from the term STD to STI is that, along with typically being the more appropriate term, a sexually transmitted” disease” brings a more negative implication than a sexually transmitted” infection.” A disease seems scarier, and fear could keep people from being comfortable addressing their status. On the other hand, an infection seems more unremarkable. Though some STD and STIs are incurable and some others are curable, the term “disease” does not imply that some of these infections may be curable with treatment.

So, now you understand the difference between an STD and an STI. With any luck, increasing knowledge of these two terms and the differences in their meaning will result in better and clearer communications about these diseases and infections, which leads to safer and better sex for everyone involved.


STI Vs. STD: How Are They Different?
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