About Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are passed by having sex with someone who has an infection. These infections are usually passed from person to person through vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex, or skin-to-skin contact. In 2018, the number of combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia in the United States reached record highs. An increasing number of newborn deaths from congenital syphilis has also become an alarming threat. Rates of STIs in Hawai‘i have also been rising—chlamydia cases have increased 20%, gonorrhea rates doubled, and syphilis infections increased 150% over the past ten years.

Because many STIs may present with no or mild symptoms, you may have one and not know it. There is no cure yet for some STI such as herpes, genital warts, or HIV but there are medications you can take to help you manage the symptoms. There are STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis where medications are readily available. If these STIs are left undiagnosed and untreated, the infection may lead to serious health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease, sterility, cancer, arthritis, ectopic pregnancy, and prostatitis to name a few.

Pregnant women infected with STIs may pass the infection on to their baby. The baby may become infected with pneumonia, conjunctivitis, and sometimes congenital malformation as in congenital syphilis or even death.

Persons infected with STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and/or syphilis may increase their risk of acquiring HIV infection. A person infected with HIV and syphilis may result in increased viral load and decrease CD4 which may further overwhelm the immune system.

If you think you or your partner is exposed to an STI, then immediately contact your health care provider for testing and treatment.

If your symptoms persist after treatment, immediately contact your health care provider.

Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention