Many of us are familiar with the term “STD”, but “STI” and “VD” may not be as familiar to you.

Long ago in a faraway land…well, really up until the 1990’s, VD (Venereal Disease) was the term typically used when discussing sexually transmitted infections and disease. Since that time, STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) became the preferred terminology of healthcare providers.

In the last few years, to add to everyone’s confusion, a new term came on board – STI – which stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection. Why oh why must we learn yet another term??

Well, chances are you will not hear the term VD very often. In fact, I heard it just the other day and it  caught me off-guard – that is the only reason I am even addressing it.

Having said that, I would like you to be familiar with the difference in the terms STI and STD – after all, you DO want to be the really cool adult in the room who actually KNOWS the difference, right?

An STI – “I” meaning INFECTION – means that a person can have a sexually transmitted virus, bacteria, or parasite that may or may not show symptoms. In other words, they may an infection and not even realize it. That is a problem, of course, when considering their future partners who will then be unknowingly exposed. Yikes.

An STD – “D” meaning DISEASE – means that a person is showing symptoms of the viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection and should get help…well, YESTERDAY!

Also, there is another reason to use the term STI – it is just a little bit more “gentle”. After all, everyone gets some sort of infection at some point in time – sinus, bladder, toe – and no one really thinks it is super embarrassing. However, a disease can sound somewhat dreadful ….and people might be embarrassed to talk about it or get help from a healthcare provider. Healthcare providers want patients to feel comfortable getting proper medical care, of course! After all, these infections are highly contagious – we don’t really want to re-gift this little surprise.

So there you have it. In 300 words, you have learned the difference between STI and STD. Most people use these terms interchangeably. It is not really a big deal if you do. I personally prefer using STI as a general rule, so that is how I will address these infections/diseases in my blogs.