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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect people of all ages, backgrounds, and from all walks of life.

Most STIs are curable, and the rest are manageable with good treatment and care.

Finding out that you have an STI is scary, and some STIs can cause serious health problems—but if you have all the facts about STIs/STDs you can get it sorted.

  • STIs are passed from one person to another during sexual contact.
  • STIs can be passed without ‘having sex’, through intimate bodily rubbing and shared bodily fluids.
  • STIs often cause obvious symptoms which alert you that you may have an infection; however, many people with STIs have no signs or symptoms so are unaware they are infectious.
  • STIs can infect many areas of the body—the genital and anal area, mouth and throat.
  • STIs are caused by microscopic (invisible) organisms such as bacteria, viruses or parasites.
  • More than half of us will contract an STI at some point in our lives. 
  • Young people up to the age of 25 have the highest rates of STIs in New Zealand.

Common Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

In New Zealand, some of the most common STIs are:

How are STIs spread?

STIs are usually spread through sex—vaginal, oral or anal.

STIs can be spread through any type of sex: from a male to a female, a female to a male, a male to another male or a female to another female.

Some STIs can be spread through any contact between the penis, vagina, mouth or anus—even if there is no penetration. For example, genital herpes is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact, and can be transmitted even if there is no penetration.

Some STIs can be spread in other ways also. For example, HIV and Hepatitis B are spread through sharing needles for injecting drugs or medicines.