Bacterial vs Viral STDs: The Difference Explained

STDs are a confusing subject to take on. One of the big reasons why is due to the fact that no two STDs are the same. While certain STDs may exhibit similar symptoms, their makeup is unique. However, there is a significant difference between bacterial vs viral STDs. These two camps comprise the majority of common STDs, and it’s important for all sexually active individuals to understand the distinction between them. Here then is a close look at what makes viral and bacterial STDs different –– and what it means for your health:

Bacterial STDs

First, the good news. Bacterial STDs are curable. In fact, most bacterial STDs can be treated in a straightforward manner with antibiotics. And while that’s certainly reassuring to hear, it doesn’t mean bacterial STDs are harmless. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Left untreated, bacterial STDs can inflict major damage on a person’s internal organs. In addition to a myriad of fertility issues, bacterial STDs have been known to cause, or contribute to, the following: scarring of the urethra, blindness, internal bleeding, paralysis, dementia, and death. In brief, bacterial STDs are something that everyone should be wary of. Fortunately, if you do test positive for a bacterial STD, you can receive treatment and usually rid yourself of the disease within days.

Common Bacterial STD Examples: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis.

Viral STDs

Unlike bacterial STDs (which are caused by bacteria), viral STDs are, unsurprisingly, caused by viruses. Viruses and viral diseases pose a tricky proposition for scientists, though. Indeed, viral STDs occupy a “gray area” in between living and non-living entities. As such, it may not come as a surprise that viral STDs are incurable. There are, however, methods you can take to prevent and manage the effects of viral STDs. First, certain viral STDs like HPV and hepatitis have vaccines that are available to the public. And even STDs like herpes and HIV can be more effectively controlled (though not cured completely) thanks to advances in modern medicine.

Common Viral STD Examples: Herpes, HIV, Hepatitis.

Bacterial vs Viral STD Transmission

As mentioned above, no two STDs are exactly alike. In general, both bacterial and viral STDs spread through sexual contact (hardly groundbreaking information). There are a few things worth remembering, though in regard to STD transmission. For instance, herpes can spread through skin-to-skin contact –– something that’s impossible for other STDs. Also you can contract certain strains of hepatitis through non-sexual means, like through ingesting contaminated food, or as a result of heavy alcohol use. Lastly, since HIV can spread through blood, activities like sharing needles expose individuals to a higher risk of HIV transmission.


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