While awareness of STIs as a whole has risen in recent decades, there are still some aspects of STIs, such as testing, transmission and treatment, which many might not know as much about.

In this post, we’ve put together a helpful and informative quiz, to help you test your STI knowledge.

There are 10 statements below: for each, simply select whether they are true or false.

1. You can always tell when you have an STI.

Correct - you selected false, and it's false.

Incorrect - you selected true but it's actually false.

Sometimes the presence of an STI may be made obvious by symptoms (such as discharge from the penis or vagina, or pain when passing urine). But a high percentage of STI cases are asymptomatic (cause no symptoms at all).

For example, it’s thought that 1 in 10 male cases and 5 in 10 female cases of gonorrhoea produce no symptoms. Chlamydia is often even more covert: 5 in 10 male cases and 8 in 10 female cases cause no noticeable signs.

In addition to the above, viral conditions which are sexually transmitted, such as hepatitis C and HIV, can often lie dormant following the incubation period for several years before symptoms develop.

The only way to know for sure if you have an STI or not is to get tested.

2. I have to go to my GP to have an STI test.

Correct - you selected false, and it's false.

Incorrect - you selected true but it's actually false.

Your GP will be able to carry out an examination of any symptoms you have, but they will need to refer you to sexual health services in most cases. Only a minority of GP services in the UK have the facilities to carry out sexual health testing.

However, you can contact sexual health (GUM) clinics directly, and in many cases attend one without an appointment. You don’t need to visit your GP first or get a referral.

Selected community hospitals also offer STI testing services. Again, your GP can refer you to these, but in many cases you’ll be able to directly book an appointment with them.

You can find local sexual health services through the NHS site.

You can also test yourself for some STIs using a home testing kit. These are available to buy online, and enable you to collect a blood or urine sample for testing at home. Some produce a result in minutes, whereas others may need to be sent off for analysis at a pathology lab.

Find out more about home test kits for STIs.

3. Condoms drastically reduce the risk of STIs.

Correct - you selected true, and it's true.

Incorrect - you selected false but it's actually true.

When used correctly, condoms significantly reduce the risk of STI transmission, but they do not provide a 100% guarantee against them.

For example, they offer good protection against fluid-borne STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and HIV, because they act as a barrier preventing infection carrying substances from being passed on between partners.

But they don’t offer the same level of protection against other STIs which can be passed on through contact with infected sores, such as syphilis or herpes; because they don’t stop this sort of contact.

Using condoms is particularly important if you are sexually active with casual partners, or are having sex with someone whose STI status you do not know, or if you do not know your own.

If you suspect you may have an STI, you should avoid having sex until you have been tested and received the all-clear. If you have tested positive for an STI, you should ensure you have the recommended treatment and been re-tested where necessary, to prevent the infection from being spread to someone else.

4. The ‘pull-out’ method reduces the risk of STIs.

Correct - you selected false, and it's false.

Incorrect - you selected true but it's actually false.

The ‘pull-out’ or ‘withdrawal’ method (where a man pulls his penis out of the vagina or anus before climaxing) does not reduce the risk of STI transmission, because pre-ejaculatory sperm (which can carry an infection) still comes into contact with mucus membrane tissue (inside the vagina or anus); and vaginal fluid (which can carry an infection) still comes into contact with skin on the penis.

The pull-out method is often used to lower the chances of pregnancy, in lieu of barrier contraception. So for couples having vaginal sex who don’t know each other’s STI status, the pull-out method is, in practice, actually even riskier; because a couple is less likely to use a condom if they employ this method.

Even as a contraceptive method (to prevent pregnancy) the pull-out method is not considered reliable. According to Options for Sexual Health, it is 73% effective with imperfect use and 96% effective with ‘perfect’ use at preventing pregnancy. According to NHS Choices, condoms when used correctly are 98% effective. The contraceptive pill is typically 99% effective or more.

5. Sometimes a person will need to be retested after treatment.

Correct - you selected true, and it's true.

Incorrect - you selected false but it's actually true.

Gonorrhoea has shown resistance to some antibiotics, so a retest will need to be taken two weeks after finishing treatment, in order to make sure the infection has gone.

Syphilis requires retests to ensure treatment has worked, as the condition can be life-threatening when allowed to progress.

People under 25 who have been treated for chlamydia will be advised to have another test for the condition within 3 months, because they’re more at risk of getting it again.

If you have taken treatment for an STI but symptoms persist or come back, you’ll need to get tested again to check for other possible STIs.

Other conditions which cannot be cured, or are chronic in nature, such as HIV or sometimes hepatitis C, will need regular testing once treatment has been commenced to monitor the activity of the virus, and measure how well treatment is working.

6. Treatment doesn’t stop someone from getting an STI again.

Correct - you selected true, and it's true.

Incorrect - you selected false but it's actually true.

Bacterial STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea can be ‘cured’ with antibiotics, but this doesn’t make the person who has had treatment immune to catching them again.

Whether you have had an STI in the past or not, it’s important to practise safe sex to lower your risk.

Viral STIs, such as HIV, increase the risk of catching other STIs when present. So even if someone is receiving ongoing monitoring and treatment, they’ll still need to take precautions when having sex.

7. Chlamydia is the most common STI.

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Incorrect - you selected false but it's actually true.

Chlamydia is the STI with the highest diagnosis rate currently in the UK. According to PHE figures, since 2012, there have been over 200,000 cases reported each year in England alone.

However, while chlamydia cases have remained fairly stable in recent years, gonorrhoea cases are increasing fairly dramatically. In England, there were just under 27,000 cases reported in 2012, but over 44,500 cases reported in 2017 (an increase of over 60%).

8. Men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by STIs.

Correct - you selected true, and it's true.

Incorrect - you selected false but it's actually true.

Again, official sexual health surveillance figures from recent years have shown a sharp increase in STI incidence in men who have sex with men (MSM). Nearly a quarter of the new STI diagnoses in males in 2017 were in MSM (50,032 out of 218,633).

However, the report states that this may partly be due to better gonorrhoea and chlamydia detection. Figures published in The Lancet also suggest that more HIV testing is being carried out.

9. Oral sex is safe sex.

Correct - you selected false, and it's false.

Incorrect - you selected true but it's actually false.

Fewer STIs are transmitted this way than they are through vaginal or anal sex, but oral sex is not a risk-free activity. Gonorrhoea, syphilis or herpes can still commonly be passed on through oral sex; and less commonly, chlamydia, hepatitis B and C, HIV and genital warts can be contracted this way too.

Using a dental dam or a condom during oral sex can reduce the risk of STI transmission; but again, these methods don’t entirely eliminate the risk. You should always be open with your partner about your STI status before having oral sex (and if in doubt, don’t have sex).

10. STIs will eventually go away on their own.

Correct - you selected false, and it's false.

Incorrect - you selected true but it's actually false.

Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are very unlikely to go away on their own and should always be treated.

While it is, in theory, possible for the body to deal with chlamydia or gonorrhoea on its own without treatment, the chances of this happening are incredibly slim.

If bacterial STIs are not treated they can lead to complications; even if they aren’t causing any symptoms. If someone doesn’t take the right antibiotic treatment for an STI, or takes antibiotic treatment but does so incorrectly (by not finishing the course for example), this can contribute towards antibiotic resistance.

The way the body deals with viral sexually transmitted infections can vary. A large percentage of people who contract the herpes virus may never develop any symptoms, but remain a carrier of the disease; as is the case with HPV. So in such instances, the virus doesn’t go away. It remains, but never manifests, and can still be passed onto somebody else.

In some cases, the body is also capable of overcoming hepatitis B and C without treatment; but the condition will still need to be monitored by a doctor closely, and treatment started if the virus persists.

HIV will always need to be treated. In some cases, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can stop the virus from incubating when taken within 72 hours of suspected transmission.

People who suspect they have any STI, be it viral or bacterial, should always seek medical advice and get tested as soon as possible.

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