Are HIV And STIs The Same Thing?
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Learn more about HIV and STIs.

You’ve heard over and over: It’s important to practice safe sex.

Some may think safe sex means sex won’t feel good, but that’s not the case. Using condoms or dental dams won’t ruin a good time – in fact, they make it better by allowing you and your partner to enjoy sex with peace of mind.

That’s because safe sex stops the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (also known as sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs). STIs are different infections passed from person to person through sexual activity, including vaginal, anal or oral sex.

The most common STIs are: 

  • HIV
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Syphilis 
  • Genital herpes 

Are HIV and STIs the same?

No, they aren’t the same. Because HIV is an STI, everyone who has HIV has an STI, but not everyone with an STI has HIV. People who have an STI may be at an increased risk of getting HIV.

Some STIs can be cured while others can’t. For example, chlamydia and gonorrhea are among the most common STIs that can be cured, while viruses like herpes or HIV can’t be cured but can be treated.

Unlike an STI, HIV attacks your body’s defense system, which may leave you weaker against diseases and lessen your overall health. 

HIV is spread through: Unprotected sex with a partner who has HIV, sharing drug needles or direct contact with blood from someone who’s living an HIV positive life. These are the only ways HIV spreads from person to person, despite many myths about it spreading in other ways.

How to stay safe and stop the spread of HIV and STIs

  • Practice safe sex by using protection | The best time to manage your risks for HIV or other STIs is before sex, whether it’s your first or next time. Talk to your partner about their sexual history, choose to use condoms or dental dams during sex, and talk to your doctor about starting PrEP.
  • Connect to Treatment | If you’ve tested positive for an STI or HIV, don’t panic and don’t beat yourself up. A positive test result isn’t your fault or something you deserve, and it doesn’t make you any less of a person. 

Simple treatments are available for STIs and HIV, and there are support systems ready to connect with you to help you through any questions, fear or uncertainty you may feel.

Anyone is at risk. If you’re sexually active, STI testing and treatment must be part of your overall health care. Visit for additional information on stopping the spread of HIV and STIs. 

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