Below is a summary of common STIs, but check out the Melbourne Sexual Health website for a thorough listing of all the STIs, plus a handy guide to what to expect if getting tested for STIs. 

Bacterial Vaginosis

In Bacterial Vaginosis the balance of the different types of bacteria is changed, leading to an overgrowth of some and a decrease in others. This usually results in a change to a woman’s vaginal discharge, Its not sexually transmitted.

Testing: Vaginal Swab

Treatment: This depends on the bacteria isolated – generally 5 days of antibiotics

Chlamydia is a very common infection that mainly infects the penis, vagina and anus. Most people who have Chlamydia do not have symptoms

Women aged between 15 and 19 years had the highest rates of diagnosis in 2011, with 2,228 per 100,000 receiving a positive diagnosis, while men aged between 20 and 24 years had the highest rate, with 1,423 per 100,000(ABS).  So 2.2% of women between 15 and 19, but the belief is that as you can have chlamydia and not know the rate may be as high as 13%. Chlamdyia is associated with causing PID.

Testing – Urine sample, with results in 3 days

Treatment – One off Antibiotic dose, and treatment/testing of partner and abstain from unprotected sex for 1 week, with follow up test.

Genital Warts (Human Papilloma Virus - HPV)
HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus, a common virus that affects both males and females, passed from person to person through sexual contact. HPV can stay in the body, causing changes to cells that can lead to HPV-related cancers and disease in males and females. Different types of HPV can affect different parts of the body, and some types are more harmful than others. HPV can cause genital warts, which can be distressing but do not cause cancer.

HPV can cause penile, anal, cervical, vulval and vaginal cancers, as well as genital warts. Four out of five people will have a HPV infection at some point in their lives. HPV doesn’t usually cause symptoms, so people infected with the virus may not know they have it. The vaccine is most effective when given before a person becomes sexually active.

HPV is common and is transmitted by skin to skin contact during genital sex.

The Human Papilloma Virus vaccine Gardasil is available to young people when they turn 15. GARDASIL can prevent  infection with four HPV types – two types cause 70% of cervical cancers, and the other two types cause 90% of genital warts.

Testing: Skin, vaginal, penile swabs  

Treatment: The conventional treatments treat the symptoms of the warts, ie the wart on the skin, but the virus remains so there is the potential for warts to reappear.

Ghonorrhoea is a bacteria that infects the penis, vagina, anus and throat. You can have gonorrhoea without knowing it as not everyone gets symptoms. The most common symptom is a discharge from the penis, vagina or anus. The prevalence has risen slightly in the last ten years to approximately 65 people per 100,000 between 15 and 65 years of age

Testing – Urine Test

Treatment -  One off Antibiotic dose, and treatment/testing of partner and abstain from unprotected sex for 1 week, with follow up test.

Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is an acute (short term) viral infection that affects the liver.  Hepatitis A may also be spread sexually if there is anal contact with a person who has this infection. Hepatitis A vaccine is available for ..

Testing – Blood tests

Treatment – there is no specific treatment for HepA with the body eventually recovering in healthy individuals

Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that results in inflammation of the liver.  It can be passed on by unprotected vaginal or anal sex, by sharing drug injecting equipment or during unsterile tattooing or body piercing.

Testing – Blood test

Treatment – Treatment is undertaken when a person is exhibiting signs and symptoms of liver damage not just when they are infected. The treatment isn’t about being curative rather minimising the damage to the liver from the virus as it multiplies.

Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that affects the liver. It is spread by blood to blood contact. The risk of transmission during sex is very unlikely unless blood s present.

Testing – Blood test

Treatment – Treatment is available for HepC via a process that lasts for a period of months and is generally run by hospital outpatient clinics. It involves weekly injections of Interferon and twice daily tablets. The side effects are similar to those undertaking Chemotherapy with hair loss, flu like symptoms, weight loss, mood disturbances and fatigue being common

Genital Herpes
Genital Herpes is a very common STI. It is caused by a virus, which is transmitted by skin to skin contact during genital or oral sex.  The virus may cause blisters or sores on the skin but some people don’t get any symptoms.  HSV Type I and II are prevalent in a large percentage of the population but not all people develop blisters. HSVI is typically seen as a cold sore with the less common HSVII being associated with genital herpes, however either when present in the form of an ulcer can lead to transmission.

Testing – Skin swab of active ulcer/lesion

Treatment – The anti-viral medications (Famiciclovir or Aciclovir) do not cure Genital herpes rather they can help suppress the recurrence and length of time of ulcers.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is in the blood, vaginal secretions and semen of a person with the virus and is passed on by vaginal or anal sex without. IN 2011 5.5 notifications per 100,000 population a condom or by sharing drug injecting equipment.

Testing – Blood test

Treatment – The current retroviral medications are note curative, rather they help suppress the virus

Molluscum Contagiosum
Molluscum Contagiosum is caused by a virus which is spread by skin to skin contact. It produces small pimples or lumps that are sometimes mistaken for warts

Testing – Visual inspection           

Treatment – Not generally undertaken as good hygiene principles stop the viral spread, and lumps disappear after 2 weeks

Mycoplasma Genitalium (MG)
MG is a bacteria which is sexually transmitted. It is easily treated with antibiotics but if left untreated can cause ongoing health problems. Much of the knowledge and research on MG has occurred since the early 2000’s. Testing and treatment is similar to Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. The prevalence and extent of MG is still being calculated.

Testing – Urine test 

Treatment -  One off Antibiotic dose, and treatment/testing of partner and abstain from unprotected sex for 1 week, with follow up test.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
PID is caused by inflammation or infection of the reproductive system in the pelvis. It may be caused by a STI.

Testing – Ultrasound, Urine Sample, Blood Samples and abdominal palpation.

Treatment – This is dependent upon the cause, but may involve a complex antibiotic regime, most importantly addressing the cause of the inflammation

Pubic lice (Crabs)
Crabs are small parasites that infest the pubic hair, armpits or chest hair. They are passed on by direct person-to-person contact with the area that is infested , not necessarily during sexual contact 

Testing – Visual examination

Treatment – Shampoos for the skin and treatments for the bed linen

Scabies  is an infestation of the skin by a tiny eight-legged mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. It is usually transmitted by skin-to skin contact. This can be sexual, or other close contact (such as parents holding babies), and it is thought that about 20 minutes of touching is required.

Testing – Visual examination of the effected area      

Treatment – Shampoo/cleanser for the skin, airing of bedding and washing of clothing

Syphilis is transmitted during sexual contact with a person who has this infection and the bacteria, Treponema Pallidium, normally presents as a sore on the genitals, or in the mouth that resolves, before returning as a rash 3 to 4 months later that eventually leads to damage to organs. Hence Syphilis is generally described in the Primary Secondary Tertiary context. Antibiotic treatment is available throughout and early intervention is best. The disease depending on the stage may or may not be infectious.

Symptoms can include an ulcer like sore or rash.

Testing –Urine and site swabs

Treatment – Antibiotics. Abstaining from sexual activity until after the rash or sores have cleared or one week after treatment has finished. Partners require testing and treating also.

Trichomoniasis is a genital infection caused by the organism Trichomonas vaginalis. Some people do not have any symptoms. In women symptoms may include frothy yellow-green vaginal discharge, unpleasant vaginal odour, vaginal itching and burning

Testing – urine test or vaginal/uretheral swab

Treatment – Antibiotics. Abstaining from unprotected sexual activity for one week post end of antibiotic course.


Urethritis is inflammation of the urethra and can be caused by STIs

Testing – Urine test

Treatment – Antibiotics, increase fluid intact, urinary alkaliser to treat symptoms