STI is an abbreviation for sexually transmitted infection. Each year an estimated 100,000 people in the Netherlands get an STI. Some STIs have serious consequences if they are not treated in time. Luckily, most STIs respond well to treatment. STIs are contagious. You can have an STI without noticing it. And this means that you can pass on an STI without noticing it as well.
Examples of STIs are: HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) chlamydia, genital warts, genital herpes, gonorrhoea, hepatitis B and syphilis.
How do you get them?
STIs are passed on in sperm, blood, vaginal fluid and by contact between mucous membranes. There are mucous membranes in the rectum, penis, vagina and mouth.
Most people acquire an STI from unprotected sex. Unprotected sex means:
Some STIs can also be acquired via blood. You can get them as a result of unhygienic tattooing or piercing. Or if you take drugs and use needles, syringes or other attributes that belong to someone else. HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy.
HIV, hepatitis B, syphilis, chlamydia, genital herpes and gonorrhoea can be passed to the baby at birth.
You don’t get an STI by drinking out of another person’s cup. You don’t get them from someone’s cough, from insect bites or a dirty toilet seat. Nor are you at risk in a swimming pool.