Protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections. These account for 500,000 new infections per year, and 15-29 year olds are the most affected.
The origin of STIs
STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection. These infections are caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites and are transmitted during vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse.
The 8 most common STIs are HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, syphilis, genital herpes, gonococcal infection, Chlamydia, and Trichomoniasis.
The male condom is the only method proven to be effective in preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It should be recommended whenever sexual activity exposes participants to the risk of STIs due to a person having multiple partners, occasional intercourse, or the absence of a committed relationship (especially among adolescents). Condoms do not fully protect against HPV transmission, but their use is recommended because they protect against much more serious STIs than those caused by HPV.
It is important to be screened regularly, either by giving a blood or urine sample, even if there are no evident symptoms.
There are vaccines available to protect against hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
Vaccination is very effective in protecting against these infections. Vaccines are available on prescription.
For more information on vaccination, visit http://www.vaccination-info-service.fr (French website).
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
This is aimed exclusively at people who do not have HIV, who do not consistently use condoms during sex, and who are at high risk of contracting HIV. PrEP is a continuous-use oral medication available since 2017. It only protects against HIV. This option is available on prescription and requires ongoing check-ups with a healthcare provider.
Preventing STIs during pregnancy
Many STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea, hepatitis B, HIV, and syphilis are also transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy and childbirth.
Given the risks for the newborn and the fetus, screening for syphilis and hepatitis B is compulsory, and HIV screening must be systematically offered to pregnant women during consulatations.