STI vs. STD
You’ve probably heard both terms. Which should you use?
What’s the actual difference? Who cares? Why use one over the other?
Some factors you may want to consider:
Technically, diseases are disorders that produce specific symptoms. Many common STIs (chlamydia and gonnorhea) often don’t have any symptoms.
This means that calling all sexually transmitted bugs “diseases” is just plain inaccurate.
This also means that screening is the only way to know if you have an infection.
Let’s be frank: talking about a disease sounds much scarier than talking about an infection. We get infections all the time: throat, eye, urinary tract. Diseases are indicative of something more severe.
So by referring to them as sexually transmitted infections, versus diseases, we are softening the language, which can, in turn, soften the perception of severity. Is this a good thing? Absolutely. There are already so many hang-ups about sex that make it hard to have frank discussions about it. Why not help reduce this stigma?
What’s more, STIs don’t need to be as scary as many people perceive them to be. Some of the most common STIs are treatable (chlamydia, gonorrhea) and those that aren’t (yet) treatable are manageable (HIV, herpes) through medication and lifestyle changes.
Show you know
Don’t be ignorant. Next time STIs come up in conversation, you can use the more accurate and less stigmatized term as a way of showing you are sex-positive.
And don’t even ask me about the term “VD” unless you’re a grandparent. Sure, I’m just old enough to silently chuckle when I hear that acronym used in a non-sexual-health-related forum. But the term “venereal disease” has gone the way of the carrier pigeon and for good reason – do we really want a category of infections defined in relation to the Roman goddess of love?
Thankfully, the dictionary to rival all dictionaries acknowledges that VD is passé. But it stills need to tuck-n-roll off of the STD bandwagon.