If your work involves talking to people about sexual health, you must be talking to them about STDs. Or STIs. Or both. Right?
As the great STD-STI terminology challenge continues, just about everyone has had to choose one term or the other. Well, everyone except for the people who use both interchangeably to mean the same thing. Or those folks who use each in distinct ways to mean different things.
Many well-informed experts make absolutely no distinction between STI and STD. Others feel the distinctions are real and important.
For those who make a distinction, most would say STD describes a condition with visible signs and describable symptoms—a drip, an itch, a bump, fatigue. STI encompasses the broader spectrum of conditions both with and without symptoms.
There was some idea that using STI would make it clear to everyone that sexually transmitted conditions often have no symptoms. It might also lessen the stigma people frequently feel about having these conditions, making them more amenable to testing and treatment.
In actual practice, I’m not at all sure that’s happened. We now have reports that many young people believe STD refers to illnesses that can’t be cured, and STI refers to illnesses that can be.
There are sound reasons for choosing either term, or both. Which is working for you right now? Why is it best for your purposes? We’d love to hear your thoughts.