What is an STI versus STD?
Sexually transmitted infections (STI) and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are often used interchangeably. Both refer to infections that are spread person to person through oral, anal, or vaginal sex or close sexual contact. We tend to use STI as it’s a more up-to-date term because some people will have an infection but treat and cure it before it becomes a disease. STIs or STDs, the important thing is that we are talking about them. 

How can I prevent spreading and or getting an STI?
Anyone who is sexually active can get an STI but there are lots of ways to protect yourself and partner(s):

  • Use a condom (linked: or internal) or latex barrier every time you have sex. 
  • Limit partners, making sure you’ve both/all been tested before engaging with a new partner(s).
  • Get the HPV vaccine (linked: to protect against HPV-related health problems like genital warts and some cancers.  
  •  Abstain from sex (remember this includes oral, anal, and vaginal sex). 
  • Learn about medications like PrEP (linked:, an option for people at high risk for HIV to lower their chances of getting infected. 
  • Get tested. Remember testing is the only way to for sure know if you have an STI or not. 


What should I do if I think I have an STI?
If you have unprotected sex with a person(s) whose STI status is unknown, you’re having symptoms of an STI, make an appointment to get tested. It’s best to abstain from having sex with anyone until you’ve been tested and know whether you have an STI or not. Testing is the first step in starting treatment or curing an STI. 

How soon can I be tested after having unprotected sex?
If you think you have an STI, make an appointment to get tested. Remember many STIs don’t have symptoms but still can cause health problems. Some STIs can be detected within a few days, others require weeks or months to be accurately detected. A McKinley healthcare provider will help inform you of what testing is necessary and when testing is recommended. Remember to abstain from sex until you been tested, and treated if necessary. 

What is the difference between treatable and curable STIs?
Many STIs are curable and all are treatable. Upon testing results, a McKinley healthcare provider will talk through options with you. A prescription medication may be available to cure an STI. Prescription medication may also be available to prevent or manage symptoms that may be experienced as a result of an incurable STI.


McKinley Health Information Handouts:



To schedule an appointment for STI testing at McKinley, call 217-333-2700 or visit MyMcKinley.

If you have questions about finding safer sex options that work for you, how to communicate STI test results to a partner(s), or want to learn more about your sexual health, schedule an appointment with McKinley’s Sexuality Educator by calling Health Education at 217-333-2700.

Access condoms, latex barriers, lubricants, pregnancy tests, yeast infection medication and other over-the-counter self-care supplies at no cost at the Health Resource Centers. (linked:

Check out this online anonymous STD assessment tool called STD Wizard allows you to answer questions specific to your lifestyle to find your STD risk or visit ASHA for more information.