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Sexual health

Good sexual health involves many things, including knowing about your body and how it works; understanding the physical, social and emotional aspects that come with your sex life.

Taking care of your sexual health means more than being free from sexually transmissible infections (STIs). It also means taking responsibility for your body, your health, your partner’s health and your decisions about sex.

Accessing information and taking advantage of HIV and STI testing services are key steps in maintaining good sexual health.

Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIS)

STIs are infections that are transmitted through close body contact - usually sexual contact - with an infected person. Such contact can include: vaginal and anal sex (fucking), oral sex, and touching or fingering an arse or vagina.

STIs can be caused by viruses (e.g. HIV, herpes, genital warts), bacteria (e.g. chlamydia, gonorrhoea), fungi (e.g. thrush), or parasites (e.g. crabs, scabies).

Sometimes these infections cause noticeable symptoms such as rashes, sores on or around your genitals or arse, or a discharges from the penis or vagina; however this isn't always the case. You can have an STI without showing any symptoms at all.

The good news is that most sexually transmissible infections can be easily treated by your GP or sexual health physician. If you are sexually active it's important to have regular sexual health check-ups so that the infections can be identified and appropriate treatment provided.

If you are living with HIV, some STIs can be harder to treat, and may have a more severe impact on your  health. Having an STIs can also make it easier for HIV to be passed on to others.

If you are  HIV-negative, having an STI may make you more susceptible to getting HIV.


Gay men and other men who have sex with men can find detailed information on STIs and how to look after their sexual health at AFAO's Drama Downunder website.

Heterosexual men and women can check out the Family Planning NSW website for sexual health information

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can visit the Better to Know website for information specific to Indigenous Australians.

AFAO has produced factsheets on STIs:


This page was published on 12 January, 2011

This page was reviewed on 10 November 2015