At a glance, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) sound the same. Of course, in certain instances, they are the same. However, in certain unique cases, sexually transmitted diseases and sexually transmitted infections mean two different things. For example, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmits via sexual contact while acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease that can transmit via sexual contact. AIDS is caused by HIV. However, there are many cases where the disease is not apparent despite active infection.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
There are many sexually transmitted infections. Human immunodeficiency virus, gonorrhea, and syphilis are a few such infections. The name sexually transmitted infection just denotes the route of transmission and not the disease. The reason for confusion is the fact that the disease has the same name as the infection.
Viruses, bacteria, and fungi can transmit via sexual contact. HIV, hepatitis, and cytomegalovirus are a few examples of viruses that can transmit via sexual contact. Bacteria such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, as well as fungi like candida, can spread via intimate sexual contact. However, candida and chlamydia do not fall into the category of sexually transmitted infections associated with sexual promiscuity. Most of the bacterial infections transmitted via sexual contact presents with lower abdominal pain, difficulty in urination, pus discharge from urethra/ vagina, fever and ill health. Fungi may cause curd like whitish discharge with genital itchiness. Viruses may present with generalized symptoms.
Taking pus, urine and blood for culture, microscopy and antibiotic sensitivity testing is the first step in managing these conditions. Other tests like full blood count, blood urea, creatinine, electrolytes, liver enzymes and imaging studies may be needed according to the clinical presentation. Antiviral, antibiotic, antifungal drugs, pain killers and various supportive measures are called for.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)
Sexually transmitted diseases can spread via intimate sexual contact. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the clinical sequel of human immune deficiency viral infection (HIV). It is an incurable disease till now. It is characterized by its directed attack against body’s defense system. HIV virus enters the T lymphocytes of CD4 category and multiplies inside it. CD4 T cells are essential for producing cytokines to guide and enhance specific immune response. When HIV brings this defenses down, simple opportunistic infections thrive in the body, and the patient succumbs to various complications of unhindered infection.
The management principles of both sexually transmitted infections and sexually transmitted diseases are the same. In case of incurable diseases like AIDS, prevention is the only defense. Barrier contraceptive methods are protective against sexually transmitted infections.
What is the difference between STI and STD?
• Sexually transmitted infections and sexually transmitted diseases are the same in most cases except in special cases like AIDS and HIV.
1. Difference Between HPV and Herpes
2. Difference Between HSV-1 and HSV-2