Sexually Transmitted Infections

The HHS Office of Minority Health developed Minority Population Profiles that include detailed demographic and health status information, including hepatitis infection, among youth and adults in several racial and ethnic groups.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be passed from one person to another during sex. STIs are also called sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs. STIs are usually spread by having vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Most contraceptive methods, other than condoms, offer no protection against STIs. 

Many STIs may have no signs or symptoms which is quite common. Sometimes, STIs may lead to painful symptoms, vaginal discharge, or even infertility. Vaginal discharge also occurs naturally for most women. Women who are concerned about their vaginal discharge should talk with their healthcare provider. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide basic facts and detailed information about STIs, including their symptoms, treatment, and prevention. For information and resources on treatment, prevention, and care for gay and bisexual men, see the CDC's Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men page.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is very common in the United States—at any given time, about 1 in 4 people have it. Most HPV infections go away on their own, but some last longer and can cause cancer or other health problems. HPV vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect against diseases and health problems caused by HPV. Talk to your healthcare provider about the HPV vaccine.

Some STIs and related conditions are caused by bacteria or parasites. They can be treated with antibiotics.

Some STIs are viral. Certain viral STIs have vaccines available to prevent infections.

Related Conditions

Urinary Tract Infections

Apart from the STIs listed above, sexual activity can move bacteria from the bowel or vagina to the urethral opening, causing a urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI is an infection of any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder, or urethra. The urinary system is designed to keep out bacteria. However, sometimes bacteria can overcome the body’s natural defenses and can cause infection. Like other bacterial infections, UTIs can be treated using antibiotics.