STD vs STI: Common Types, Symptoms, and Treatment

std vs sti


By the age of 25, one in two Americans will have contracted an STI. In 2017, there were 2,295,739 reported cases of STD diagnosis. These numbers differ, so what’s the difference between STD vs. STI?

Considering the frequency of STI and STD occurrence, awareness is essential to your sexual health. Part of this awareness comes from knowing the difference between different types of sexual illnesses. 

To find out the difference between these two medical terms, check out the guide below.


The first difference between STDs and STIs is in the name. STD stands for sexually transmitted disease, whereas STI means sexually transmitted infection. Essentially, the difference is between a disease and an infection.

Not all diseases begin with infections, but many do. Sexually transmitted disease first begin as sexually transmitted infections. Infection occurs with the sexually transmitted bacteria or virus first enters the body and begins multiplying.

Once the sexually transmitted bacteria or viruses have entered the body, the infection may progress into a disease. Disease occurs when this foreign presence officially disrupts the body’s normal functions and processes.

Origins of the Terms

Another reason for the emergence of the term STI is due to stigma. Terms like venereal disease and sexually transmitted disease have existed for so long that they have a bad connotation. 

Already, venereal disease was changed out for sexually transmitted disease. Now, many people prefer to use the term sexually transmitted infection. Perhaps in another 50 years, there will be another term introduced. 

Both venereal disease and sexually transmitted disease use the term “disease.” This seems to be the catalyst for the bad connotation. In contract, the term “infection” does not garner as much negativity. This is possibly due to the perception that an infection is less serious or severe.

Of course, STD and STI aren’t really interchangeable. However, even doctors are using STI instead of STD. Sometimes stigma can be just as harmful as a disease. 

Getting Tested 

Another major difference between STDs and STIs is how they present. Because an STD is the later stage of an STI, you may have some symptoms. With an STI however, many carriers show no signs of being infected. 

Getting tested is the only way to know whether you carry an STD or STI. Unfortunately, many people still neglect to get regularly tested after sexual activity. This is often due to stigma.

Some medical professionals hope that by using less stigmatized terms, more people will be encouraged to get tested. It’s vital that people feel comfortable and safe, get tested, and prevent the spread of disease.

Unfortunately, many diseases are spread due to the carrier’s ignorance of their status.  

Dealing with STDs and STIs

Now that you know the difference between STD vs. STI, you can arm yourself with knowledge. Awareness is one of the best ways to protect yourself from contracting disease. 

Another way to protect yourself is by using protection. If you’re not sure about your options, don’t hesitate to speak with the professionals at State Urgent Care.