Sexually Transmitted Infections

To find out if you should get tested for a sexually transmitted infection (STI), take the online quiz.

For more information on STIs, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

What to Know About STIs

As the numbers of people living with an STI increase, so does the chance of getting one yourself. In Erie County, compared to other health incidents, it is actually more probable to get an STI than to get bitten by a pet dog or cat.

Because of the way certain STIs spread, your exposure is not limited to the person you are intimate with at the time. If you have more than one partner, and each of those partners has the same number of partners as you have, your potential exposure to STIs increases exponentially. For instance, if you have two partners, your exposure is to three people. If you have five partners, your exposure is to 31 people. Viral STIs, such as herpes and HIV, are chronic diseases that are persistent lifelong and figure into this equation.

Certain groups are more at risk for STIs. Females are more often infected than males; in Erie County, females account for roughly three quarters of the chlamydia cases. Gonorrhea incidence rates are 25 times higher for the African-American population compared with the white population. The good news is that both chlamydia and gonorrhea are easily cured with an antibiotic; the bad news is many people go untreated because they don’t notice any symptoms. Prolonged infections can cause scarring of tissues and even prevent young people from having children later in life when they desire a family.

About 75% of undiagnosed chlamydia and gonorrhea cases are in young people ages 15 to 24. Surveys of this group have found large gaps between intentions (abstinence and birth control) and actual behavior. Perhaps this is why 50% of a large group of urban adolescent girls were infected with one of three common STDs (gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis) within two years of having sex for the first time.

For information about lowering your risk of STDs, contact the Erie County Department of Health at 814-451-6711.