Health and sex belongTogether


About STIs and what to know before doing you-know-what.


STI stands for “sexually transmitted infection,” which can be spread through skin-to-skin contact and body fluids during oral, vaginal, and anal sex.

Getting busy? Here’s a breakdown of how some STIs are most commonly passed:


It may surprise you...It’s possible to not show any symptoms, even when you’ve been exposed to certain STIs.

Decorative background with the words 'HIV is an STI'.

STIs, including HIV, are common, and they’re nothing to feel bad about—things happen. So, what can you do to help protect yourself and your partner(s)? Getting tested regularly is one very important step.

About getting tested–including the what, where, when, and how.

Getting tested is just as important as getting a regular checkup with your healthcare provider. Whether you’re testing for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, cervical cancer, or herpes—it’s maintenance for a healthier body.

Got questions about STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing? Get answers.

It’s possible that your healthcare provider will want to do more than one test on a few areas of your body, and that’s totally normal. Different STIs are tested in different ways.

Rather do it at home?


Rapid self-tests for HIV are done entirely at home and can be bought online or at a pharmacy. Results are usually ready within 20 minutes.

Mail-in self-tests for HIV and other STIs are done at home then mailed. Results are later provided by a healthcare provider.

Note that at-home STI tests aren’t always 100% accurate. And if your results from an at-home HIV test are positive/reactive, it's recommended that you visit your healthcare provider to get tested again to confirm your results.

Your results are in, now what? Your healthcare provider may tell you your results during your visit, call you in a few days, or share them digitally via a patient portal.


If your HIV test results come back negative, remember that testing isn’t a one and done thing. For example, if you’re sexually active and had more than one partner, had anal or vaginal sex with someone who has been diagnosed with HIV, or have been diagnosed with another STI since your last HIV test, you should get tested for HIV at least once a year.

Your healthcare provider may also suggest getting retested for HIV more regularly if you don’t know the HIV status of your partners.

If any of your STI test results come back positive, remember this about STIs: Some are curable. Most are treatable.

If you have a healthcare provider (whether at a clinic or doctor's office), they can help you figure out what treatment is right for you.

No matter what it is though—know that there is something you can do. See additional resources for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV.

About preventing STIs (sexually transmitted infections), starting with how your partners come into play.


Whether it's a one-night thing, a new relationship, or getting super close with someone you know, you can still have healthy sex. The choices you make can impact not only you, but also your partner(s). And potentially their partner(s).

Sexual networks at work.

Your sexual network includes all your partners, as well as all of their partners–current and past. The more sexual connections there are in your sexual network, the greater your chances of coming into contact with an STI, including HIV.

And believe it or not, the odds of coming into contact with HIV may be higher in certain ZIP codes.

It's just condom sense.




Condoms can be a part of your prevention plan. And aside from practicing on a banana, there are more ways you can be prepared:

  • Use before genital contact and from start to finish
  • Know that one is enough (No need to double up!)
  • Use a new condom and check for tears or defects
  • Check that you’re using a water or silicone-based lube instead of an oil-based lube
  • Use latex or polyurethane instead of a natural membrane condom (like lambskin)

To wrap it up, correctly and consistently using latex or polyurethane insertive condoms with lube can actually lower your chances of getting certain STIs, like HIV (which is up to 91% for receptive anal sex and up to 80% for vaginal sex).

In addition to using condoms with lube, medications can help lower your chances of getting HIV.