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What’s the Difference Between an STI and an STD?

Although they get interchanged frequently, STIs and STDs are definitely NOT the same things. So how are they different? And why do we use one for the other?

An Infection versus a Disease

The easiest way to explain the difference between a sexually transmitted infection (STI) versus a sexually transmitted disease (STD), think of infection as the first step towards disease. Having an STI means you may not be experiencing symptoms yet, so using that acronym is accurate for most cases. 

This is why many medical experts use STI. Using STD can be misleading because the word disease suggests that the person has obvious signs and symptoms. As well, not everyone who gets an infection gets a disease.

So, why do we use STD instead of STI?

To put it simply, because we always have. The push to change the language really didn’t start that long ago. However, language is ever-evolving. We’re continually finding better ways to define different aspects of life, sexual health included. 

Being Proactive and Getting Tested

In addition to increased HIV rates, other STIs have also been on the rise in Tampa Bay. In fact, Chlamydia has seen a steady increase since 2016 with around 500 in every 100,000 individuals becoming infected while Gonorrhea cases have infected nearly 200 in every 100,000 individuals since 2018. What does this mean for you?

If you’re already being proactive about your sexual health, getting testing and staying as safe as you can, then keep doing what you’re doing. You can use condoms, dental dams, nitrile gloves, birth control, and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis, a daily HIV-prevention pill) as various forms of STI prevention. Make sure to learn about proper use, and always consult with your primary care physician if you have questions.

If you aren’t sure of your status, but are sexually active or think you may have been exposed, get tested as soon as possible. At METRO, we offer complete STI panels within 90 minutes. 

METRO also offers several sexual health programs and LGBTQ+ social groups for all ages, at no cost. In them, you can educate yourself on the world of sexual health or meet others looking to do the same.

To schedule your HIV or STI test in St. Petersburg or our other Tampa Bay locations, give us a call at 727-321-3854. To learn more about sexual health programs and social groups, visit:

Sources: | HealthLine