I remember my high school sexual education class. It was a one-day, one-shot ordeal, and we freshmen didn't learn anything about birth control or consent. My P.E. teacher swiftly covered the names of certain STIs, their symptoms, and gave the advice that abstinence is the best way to prevent infection.

The information I was given in high school was far from complete (for example, the fact that abstinence isn't enough—herpes can be contracted orally). My teacher also referred to them as sexually transmitted diseases—STDs.


Sex educators like Laci Green and OB-GYN professionals refer to the same bacteria and viruses as STIs (sexually transmitted infections). So, what's the difference? Is there a difference? I asked my professor Dr. Angela Towne, MEd, PhD, for her opinion.

"STI is a more accurate way to describe sexually transmitted infection[s]. The reason is that not all infections progress to disease states. In other words, a person can become infected and have no signs or symptoms; yet, they can still infect another person even if a 'disease' never occurs or occurs much later."

Real-life Examples

A great example for this explanation would be HIV/AIDS. A person who is infected with human immunodeficiency virus is considered HIV positive and can give the virus to their partner(s). However, the disease caused by the virus, AIDS, can develop up to 10 years after infection. Therefore, someone can be infected with HIV, but not have AIDS.

There you have it, folks. The terms "STI" and "STD" refer to the same sexually transmitted viruses and bacteria, but "STI" engulfs everything from infections with no symptoms to diseases like AIDS and cervical cancer. You can be infected but not diseased, and you can't be diseased without an infection.

Stay educated and keep your sexy times safe, Spooniverse!