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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): What they are and how we can protect ourselves from them.

1. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)- what are they actually?

Many people still have a very vague picture of STIs and often do not know what exactly is meant by them. More educational work needs to be done here and the most frequently asked questions about the topic need to be answered.

STIs can be dangerous and have serious consequences. For example, infection with HIV/AIDS can be life-threatening. The infection cannot be cured, but antiretroviral therapies can help alleviate symptoms and prevent the spread of the disease. Even without treatment, a person with HIV/AIDS can remain symptom-free for a long period of time.

Other dangerous STIs include syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and hepatitis B. These diseases can generally be treated with antibiotics and are therefore usually easy to treat, provided they are detected in time.

The same applies to herpes. Although there is no cure, antiviral therapy can help relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Genital warts are another example of a common STI that can be treated with medication.

It is important to point out that there are many other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that are not necessarily life-threatening but can still have serious consequences. These include trichomoniasis (trichomonad infection), genital fungal infection (candidiasis), pubic lice and scabies (scabies). All of these diseases need to be detected and treated early.

Therefore, it is important to go for regular check-ups and see your doctor immediately if you notice any symptoms of an STI or have any signs that you might be infected. It is also advisable to have an HIV test before each new sexual partner to minimize any possible risks.

2. How do STIs get into our bodies in the first place?

Most STIs are caused by sexually transmitted bacteria or viruses that are found in body fluids such as blood, semen or vaginal fluid. However, other pathogens such as bacteria or fungi can also lead to infection. Most people get their first disease between the ages of 15 and 25, but there are also diseases that can occur even in children. STIs are particularly dangerous for pregnant women and children, as these infections can often have serious consequences. So if you notice that you have symptoms of an illness, you should definitely see a doctor!

3. What are the symptoms of STIs?

If you notice symptoms such as itching, pain or discharge, you should definitely check whether it is an STI. Most of these conditions are easy to diagnose and heal fairly quickly. However, there are some that are more difficult to diagnose. In this case, you should consult your doctor or another health professional.

4. How can we protect ourselves from STIs?

STIs are widespread. Every year, over 20 million people receive new diagnoses. Yet many people are unsure how to protect themselves from them. Here are some tips and tricks to help you protect yourself from STIs.

To make sure you don't get infected, you should ask your partner if he has been tested and is disease-free. If he says yes, you should also be careful yourself and get tested regularly. However, it is important to know that this precaution does not guarantee absolute safety. Your best defense against STIs is to avoid the risks.

There are several ways to protect yourself from STIs. These include:

- Contraception: contraceptives such as condoms protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The pill protects against pregnancy but not against infection.
- Vaccinations: Vaccinations against hepatitis B and HPV can reduce the risk of contracting these STIs.

5. Where can I get tested if I suspect I have an STI?

If you are not sure if you have an STI, it is important to see a doctor (gynaecologist for women and urologist for men). Early diagnosis and treatment can often prevent serious health consequences.

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