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Diseases & Topics

Sexually Transmitted Diseases & Infections

Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are also referred to as sexually transmitted infections, or STIs. The term "STD" or "STI" does not refer to any one disease, but includes more than 25 infectious organisms that are transmitted through sexual activity, as well as the many clinical syndromes (effects) that they cause.

North Carolina local health departments External link provide free and confidential STD screening and clinical services. Testing and counseling services are also offered through testing agencies and non-traditional counseling, testing and referral sites throughout the state. Learn more about N.C. testing sites and services.

Common STDs include:

Less common but still reportable in North Carolina are granuloma inguinale and lymphogranuloma venereum. Another condition, ophthalmia neonatorum, occurs when STDs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia are passed from an infected mother to an infant during birth.

STDs are almost always spread from person to person by sexual intercourse, most commonly by vaginal or anal intercourse but also through oral sex. Pregnant women with STDs may pass their infections to infants during pregnancy, birth or through breast feeding. Some STDs, such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, are also transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, for example through the sharing of needles or equipment to inject drugs, body piercing or tattoos.

The surest way to avoid transmission of STDs is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected. Latex condoms and other measures can help prevent transmission of STDs; talk with your doctor. People who are sexually active should be tested regularly for STDs and then treated if needed. Their sex partners should also be tested and treated to avoid re-infection. All pregnant women should also be tested for STDs.

If you experience symptoms such as itching, burning or pain, unusual discharge, bleeding, or sores, stop having sex and see a healthcare provider immediately. Sexual activity should not resume until all sex partners have been examined, tested, and treated if necessary.

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