Be Sexually Savvy

A sexually active couple

Be Sexually Savvy

February 10 – 16 is STI/Condom Week in South Africa. Perfect timing as a new environment, combined with new-found freedom, often results in sexual experimentation.


  • STDs & HIV STDs & HIV get the facts learn the risks protect yourself.
  • STD stands for sexually transmitted disease - sometimes called STI for sexually transmitted infection.
  • STDs are passed by body fluids or genital contact during anal, oral, and vaginal sex.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

HIV is a virus that can be transmitted by anal, oral, or vaginal sex with an infected person as well as through breastmilk, during childbirth, and by coming into contact with the blood of an HIV positive person.

  • Untreated HIV can lead to AIDS which compromises the immune system and puts the person at risk of illness and death.
  • HIV cannot be transmitted by casual contact like hugging or sharing utensils.

Signs and Symptoms

  • In its early stages, HIV has no symptoms.
  • Once the illness has progressed the first symptoms may include fever, rashes, and sores.
  • In its final stage, a person with age may suffer from a variety of illnesses including pneumonia and cancer.


Get tested if:

  • You have ever had vaginal, anal, or oral sex without a condom.
  • You have ever shared needles or syringes to inject drugs or other substances.
  • You are uncertain of your partner's status or your partner is living with HIV.
  • You are pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant.
  • You have ever been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection or disease.
  • You have hepatitis C.
  • You begin treatment for tuberculosis (TB).

A positive test result means you are infected with HIV. It doesn’t mean you have AIDS or will get sick soon.

A negative test result means no HIV antibodies were found in your body. But, you could still be infected if you have been exposed to HIV in the last three months. Your body may not have made enough HIV antibodies to show up yet. Get tested again in three months.


  • Medications called anti-retrovirals can prevent the virus from worsening and extend the lives of HIV positive people for decades.
  • Start treatment as early as possible in order to stay healthy for as long as possible.
  • There is no cure for HIV.

Viral STDs can be treated but CANNOT be cured

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

An infection in the womb, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. PID affects WOMEN ONLY. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and other STDs left untreated can cause PID.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain during intercourse.
  • Pain in lower abdomen.
  • Smelly vaginal discharge.
  • Irregular bleeding.
  • Some women have NO SYMPTOMS.


The doctor will perform a vaginal exam, pap smear, or pelvic ultrasound.


PID can be treated and cured with antibiotics.

Left untreated, STDs can damage your reproductive system and create other serious health risks.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

A common viral STD that can be transmitted by anal, oral, or vaginal sex with an infected person. The body can fight off some HPV types, but others cause illness.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Genital warts are small bump or groups of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower.
  • Some HPV types can cause normal cells in the body to turn abnormal and might lead to cancer over time.
  • Some people have NO symptoms


A pap smear allows the doctor to determine if you have abnormal cervical cells which might indicate HPV; an HPV test can determine if you have HPV.


  • Genital Warts can be removed or treated with medicine.
  • Abnormal Cervical Cells (found on a Pap test) can usually be treated to prevent cervical cancer from developing.
  • There is NO cure for HPV.


A bacterial STD passed on by a syphilis sore through anal, oral, or vaginal sex with an infected person. Syphilis has three stages: the primary, secondary, and the late and latent stage.

Bacterial STDs can be treated and cured.

Signs and Symptoms

  • The primary stage begins with a single sore (called a chancre), but there can also be multiple sores. If not treated at this stage it will progress to the secondary stage.
  • The secondary stage consists of skin rash and lesions that usually appear on the palm of the hands or bottom of feet. If not treated at this stage it will progress to the late or latent stage.
  • The late or latent stage, also called the hidden stage, begins when primary and secondary symptoms disappear, but the disease is still present. Without treatment, syphilis can lead to blindness and death.


A microscopic exam of a chancre sore or a blood test will be used.


Treatment can include a single antibiotic injection for someone infected less than a year. Additional doses are needed to treat someone infected longer than a year.


A bacterial STD, Chlamydia can be transmitted by having anal, oral, or vaginal sex with an infected person.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain during intercourse (females).
  • Abdominal and lower back pain.
  • Burning sensation during urination (males/females).
  • Abnormal discharge from vagina or penis.
  • People who are infected may have NO SYMPTOMS


Urine or a specimen from the penis or cervix may be collected.


Chlamydia can be treated and cured with antibiotics.


A bacterial STD that can infect the genital tract, mouth or anus, Gonorrhea can be transmitted by having anal, oral, or vaginal sex with an infected person.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain when urinating (males/ females),
  • Pus-like discharge from penis or vagina.
  • Anal irritation and painful bowel movements.
  • People who are infected may have NO SYMPTOMS


Urine sample, or sample from infected body parts (cervix, urethra, rectum, or throat) may be collected.


Gonorrhea can be treated and cured with antibiotics.


A viral infection caused by Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV1 or HSV2), Herpes can be transmitted through anal, oral, or vaginal sex with an infected person. Herpes can be transmitted between outbreaks and when there are no symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Cold sores around the mouth.
  • Sores or blisters around the genitals, buttocks, or anal area.
  • Flu-like symptoms, including fever and swollen glands.
  • Some people have NO symptoms.


A blood test helps to determine if someone is infected with Herpes.


  • Antiviral medications can shorten and prevent outbreaks during the period of time the person takes the medication.
  • Treatment can lesson symptoms and decrease outbreaks but you can still spread herpes under treatment.
  • There is NO cure for Herpes.

See your doctor or visit another health care facility to get tested.

How To Be Safe

Methods you can use that reduce the risk of STDs, including HIV:

100% effective

in preventing STDs, including HIV, when used consistently and correctly every time.

Latex and polyurethanes male condoms
99% effective

against HIV and also reduces the risk of many other STDs when use consistently and correctly every time. Use condoms without lubricant for oral sex on a man.

Female condoms
may reduce the risk of STDs including HIV when used consistently and correctly every time.

Condoms can also reduce the risk of pregnancy.

Use latex or plastic barriers, such as a dental dams or plastic wrap, for oral sex on a woman or for oral-anal sex; use latex or plastic gloves if you have cuts or sores on your hands.

having a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with one partner who has been tested and is known to uninfected can lower your risk of getting STDs, including HIV.


Wash shared sex toys (dildos, vibrators) or put on a fresh condom between users.

Know that some methods of birth control, like birth control pills, shots, implants, or diaphragms, will not protect you from sexually transmitted infections. If you use one of these methods also use a latex condom.

Talk with your sex partner(s) about sexually transmitted infections and using condoms.

Talk honestly with your health care provider and your sex partner(s) about any sexually transmitted infections you or your partner has or has had.

Do not share needles or syringes for injecting drugs or other substances; if you do share drug equipment, be sure to clean your works – download a guide HERE.

Did You Know?

You have the right to decide if and when you want to have sex and to take steps to protect yourself from STDs and HIV.

Remember to use your protection method each and every time you have sex.

How To Use A Condom

Talk to your partner about safer sex. Then, follow these steps for correct condom use:

  1. Check the expiration date on the individual condom packet.
  2. Once the penis is erect, open condom package with your fingers. Don't use your teeth, or any sharp object, because you might accidentally tear the condom!
  3. Squeeze the tip of condom with your fingers and place the rolled condom on the head of the penis.
  4. Leave a half-inch space at the tip of the condom to collect semen.
  5. Hold the tip of condom and unroll until the penis is completely covered.
  6. After ejaculation, while the penis is still erect, hold the condom at base of penis and carefully remove the condom without spilling any semen.
  7. Wrap the condom in tissue, or tie it in a knot and throw it away. (Don't flush the condom down the toilet.)
  8. Use a NEW condom for every act of vaginal, oral, and anal intercourse. Never use a condom more than once. Never use two condoms at the same time.
  9. If using lubricant, use a water-based one like KY Jelly, NOT Vaseline or baby oil.

It is also helpful to practice – you can always use a banana

Be prepared! Use protection the first time you have sex.

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