Until the 1990s, such afflictions were commonly known as venereal diseases: Veneris is the Latin genitive (possessive) form of the name Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Social disease was another euphemism. Public health officials originally introduced the term sexually transmitted infection, which clinicians are increasingly using alongside the term sexually transmitted disease in order to distinguish it from the former.
Sometimes the terms STI and STD are used interchangeably. This can be confusing and not always accurate, so it helps first to understand the difference between infection and disease.
For this reason, the term STI - which refers to infection with any germ that can cause an STD, even if the infected person has no symptoms - is a much broader term than STD.
Infection simply means that a germ - virus, bacteria, or parasite - that can cause disease or sickness is present inside a person's body. An infected person does not necessarily have any symptoms or signs that the virus or bacteria is actually hurting his or her body; they do not necessarily feel sick.
A disease means that the infection is actually causing the infected person to feel sick, or to notice something is wrong.
The distinction being made, however, is closer to that between a colonization and an infection, rather than between an infection and a disease.
Specifically, the term STD refers only to infections that are causing symptoms. Because most of the time people do not know that they are infected with an STD until they start showing symptoms of disease, most people use the term STD, even though the term STI is also appropriate in many cases.
Moreover, the term sexually transmissible disease is sometimes used since it is less restrictive in consideration of other factors or means of transmission. For instance, meningitis is transmissible by means of sexual contact but is not labeled as an STI because sexual contact is not the primary vector for the pathogens that cause meningitis. This discrepancy is addressed by the probability of infection by means other than sexual contact. In general, an STI is an infection that has a negligible probability of transmission by means other than sexual contact, but has a realistic means of transmission by sexual contact (more sophisticated means - blood transfusion, sharing of hypodermic needles - are not taken into account). Thus, one may presume that, if a person is infected with an STI, e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, it was transmitted to him/her by means of sexual contact.
The English language has short words for two of the most common: "pox" (syphilis) and "the clap" (gonorrhea).
A Venereal disease (VD) a.k.a. sexually transmitted disease (STD), is an illness that has a significant probability of transmission between humans or animals
by means of sexual contact, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex.
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