Sexually Transmitted Infections

What are Sexually Transmitted Infections?

A sexually transmitted infection is an infection that is passed from one person to another person through close sexual contact.  An infection is when a bacteria, virus, or parasite enters and grows in or on your body.  Sexually transmitted infections can be passed from one person to another person during any close sexual contact including vaginal, anal or oral sexual activity.  Sexually transmitted infections are fairly common.  Fifty percent of sexually active individuals will be infected with a sexually transmitted infection by the time they are 25 years of age and nearly half of all new STI cases annually occur in people between 15-24 years of age.

For more information on STI's in Youth and Young Adults visit the CDC website.  

Reportable Sexually Transmitted Infections

There are five reportable sexually transmitted infections in the state of Wisconsin.  A reportable STI means that the medical provider who ordered the test for, and diagnosed the infection, as well as the laboratory that processed the test are required to report confirmed cases of these sexually transmitted infections to the local public health department where the infected individual lives.  The local health department is required by state law to make efforts to contact individuals who have been diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections to help prevent the further passage of the infection through intervention, consultation and disease surveillance.  Reportable STIs are:

Non-reportable Sexually Transmitted Infections Include:

A non-reportable sexually transmitted infection is one that medical providers and laboratories are not required to report to the local health department.  This does not mean these infections are not serious, or that they do not require attention from a medical provider.  If you suspect you may have a sexually transmitted infection, whether it is reportable or non-reportable, you should seek medical attention.  Non-reportable STIs are:



AIDS, HIV and Hepatitis B, C, and D are also reportable communicable diseases that can be passed from one person to another person during sexual activity, but can also be passed through other ways, such as when an infected individual shares a needle and/or syringe (primarily for drug injection) with another person, or if an individual is exposed to the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person in some other way. Pregnant women can also pass some of these infections to their babies before or during birth, or through breastfeeding.


Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT)

For patients diagnosed with Chlamydia trachomatis, Gonorrhea, or Trichomoniasis, Wisconsin Act 280 allows medical providers to give prescriptions for a patient’s partner(s), without having to see the partner(s) to confirm the presence of infection.  This is called Expedited Partner Therapy, or EPT.  This is done to help prevent the further passage of that infection, because if one person is infected, there is a very good chance that their partner is also infected.  In EPT, both partners are given medication to treat the infection so they do not re-infect each other, or pass the infection to any other partner(s) they may have.  For more information visit the CDC Expedited Partner Therapy webpage.

Places to go for STI testing

Some individuals who have a sexually transmitted infection do not have any signs or symptoms of infection, meaning they are likely unaware that they are infected, but can still pass the infection to their partner(s).  Some sexually transmitted infections can seriously impact your health, in some cases for life.  For these reasons, it is important to get tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections if you are sexually active, especially if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • You have multiple sex partners.

  • You are in a new sexual relationship.

  • You are involved in a non-monogamous relationship (sometimes referred to as an “open relationship”).

Even if you do not have any symptoms, you may have a sexually transmitted infection, and you could pass the infection to others.  Testing for STIs is simple and non-invasive in most cases, ranging from providing a blood or urine sample to having a medical provider take swabs from the infected site, depending on the infection. You can choose to go to your own medical provider to be tested for STIs.  Other options are:


Treatment of STIs

Fortunately, many sexually transmitted infections are easily treated with an antibiotic that your doctor can prescribe for you.  It is important that you take all of the medication that your doctor prescribes for your infection, even if your symptoms improve.  You should also avoid all sexual activity while you are taking the medication, and for 7 days after you have finished the medication.  This helps to ensure that you’ve been completely treated for the infection and reduces the chance that you will pass it on to a partner.  You should be tested again within 2-3 months, or sooner if you experience symptoms, to be sure that you haven’t been re-infected by a partner. 


Some sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS, Genital Herpes, Hepatitis, and HPV cannot be treated by taking medication.  Once you are infected, you will have that infection for the rest of your life, and can potentially pass the infection to others.  Because these infections cannot be treated, it is very important that you protect yourself from exposure to sexually transmitted infections.  If you are sexually active, the best way to prevent exposure to sexually transmitted infections is the use of condoms during every sexual encounter.