Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections transferred from one person to another through sexual contact.
If your friend has indicated they have an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) or an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) or they are worried that they could have contracted something from having unprotected sex, then the best thing is to encourage a visit to a health service to seek professional treatment, and to normalise the situation so that your friend doesn’t feel embarrassed and stigmatised.
To find out more information about STI’s there are a number of good websites, see the links section of this site.
Some STI’s are much more serious than others, but the same principles apply.
- Encourage screening and treatment as some STI’s left untreated can be very serious (e.g. HIV causing AIDS, Gonorrhoea can cause arthritis and meningitis, and a number of them can cause infertility). But most can be treated very easily.
- Encourage them to tell any sexual partners about STIs that they have.
- Support them and alleviate their embarrassment by indicating that they are behaving very sensibly by getting treatment and that it is an infection that is most likely easily treated.
- You might like to offer to help them do some research on the STI if that is applicable.