Sex, Drugs & BBVs – What are Sexually Transmitted Infections?

  • STIs are infections passed from one person to another during sexual contact
  • STIs can infect many areas of the body
  • STIs are caused by microscopic organisms such as bacteria, viruses or parasites
  • STIs do not always cause signs or symptoms

Risk Activities

Having vaginal or anal sex without a condom (unprotected sex) can put you at risk of getting an STI. You can also get some STIs from unprotected oral sex. Some activities put you at greater risk than others. Riskier activities include unprotected sex:

  • with casual partners (the more partners, the greater the risk)
  • with a partner who has had unprotected sex with casual partners
  • when travelling outside Australia
  • with a person who has had unprotected sex outside Australia
  • with a partner who has injected drugs
  • Below is a list of some of the more well-known STIs. For a comprehensive guide please follow the links at the bottom of the page.

Bacterial Vaginosis

  • The normal, healthy vagina contains many different types of bacteria.
  • In BV the balance of the different types of bacteria is changed, leading to an overgrowth of some and a decrease in others. This usually results in a change to a woman’s vaginal discharge.
  • BV is not sexually transmitted.

Chlamydia

  • Chlamydia is a very common infection that mainly infects the penis, vagina and anus
  • Most people who have Chlamydia do not have symptoms so they do not know they have it

Genital Warts

  • Genital warts are a very common STI
  • The wart virus, which has many different strains, is transmitted by skin to skin contact during genital sex.

Gonorrhoea

  • Gonorrhoea is a bacteria that infects the penis, vagina, anus and throat
  • You can have gonorrhoea without knowing it as not everyone gets symptoms.
  • The most common symptom is a discharge from the penis, vagina or anus.

Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis A is an acute (short term) viral infection that affects the liver.
  • Hepatitis A may also be spread sexually if there is anal contact with a person who has this infection.

Herpes

  • Genital herpes is a very common STI.
  • It is caused by a virus, which is transmitted by skin to skin contact during genital or oral sex.
  • The virus may cause blisters or sores on the skin but some people don’t get any symptoms.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

  • PID is caused by inflammation or infection of the reproductive system in the pelvis.
  • It may be caused by a STI.

Pubic lice (Crabs)

  • Pubic lice or crabs are small parasites that infest the pubic hair, armpits or chest hair
  • They are passed on by direct person-to-person contact with the area that is infested , not necessarily during sexual contact

Scabies

  • Scabies is an infestation of the skin by a tiny eight-legged mite called Sarcoptes scabies.
  • It is usually transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. This can be sexual, or other close contact (such as
    parents holding babies), and it is thought that about 20 minutes of touching is required.

Syphilis

  • Syphilis is transmitted during sexual contact with a person who has this infection.
  • Symptoms can include an ulcer like sore or rash. It is important to treat syphilis to avoid complications.

Urethritis

  • Urethritis is inflammation of the urethra (the urine passage).
  • Urethritis more commonly affects men but can affect both men and women and can be caused by sexually transmissible infections (STIs).

If you would like more information on STIs and safe sex practices please check out the following websites or contact your local drug user organisation: