Sexually transmitted infections, (formerly known as sexually transmitted diseases) or STIs, are infections that can be transferred from one person to another through sexual contact. Sexually transmitted infections have probably been around for thousands of years, but the most worrisome, AIDS, has only been recognized since 1984. It is important to realize that sexual contact includes more than just sexual intercourse (vaginal and anal). Sexual contact includes kissing, oral-genital contact, and the use of sexual "toys," such as vibrators.
Most STIs are treatable. However, even the once easily cured gonorrhea has become resistant to many of the older traditional antibiotics. Other STIs, such as herpes, AIDS, and genital warts, all of which are caused by viruses, have no cure. Some of these infections are very uncomfortable, while others can be deadly. Syphilis, AIDS, genital warts, herpes, hepatitis, and even gonorrhea have all been known to cause death. Therefore, a public awareness and education about these infections and the methods of preventing them is important.
There really is no such thing as "safe" sex. The only truly safe sex is abstinence. Sex in the context of a monogamous relationship wherein neither party is infected with a STI is also considered "safe". Most people think that kissing is a safe activity. Unfortunately, syphilis, herpes, and other infections can be contracted through this relatively simple and apparently harmless act. All other forms of sexual contact carry some risk. Condoms are commonly thought to protect against STIs. Condoms are useful in preventing certain infections, such as herpes and gonorrhea. However, they do not fully protect against other infections such as genital warts, syphilis and AIDS.
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