Whether it’s viral or bacterial - it’s important that you stay in the know about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) so you can keep your sexual health in check.

Unlike bacterial STDs, viral STDs are caused by viruses as opposed to bacteria and parasites[1]. Let’s have a look into what you should know about viral STDs; including what are viral STDs and how you can test for them.

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What are viral STDs?

While STDs can be caused by bacteria or parasites, viral STDs are caused by viruses. Viruses are smaller than bacteria and can’t survive without a living host [2].

Unlike bacteria, most viruses are disease-causing. Examples of virus-causing diseases include:

  • The common cold
  • H.I.V.
  • Herpes
  • Chickenpox

What are the most common viral STDs?

While chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, mycoplasma, Gardnerella, and trichomoniasis are caused by bacteria or parasites[3]. They are typically spread through sexual contact including vaginal, anal sex, or oral sex.

The most common viral STDs are known as the ‘four H’s’ and they include:

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (H.I.V.)

H.I.V is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. As a retrovirus, H.I.V can create many copies of itself and has the ability to change a cell’s DNA. [4].

Herpes Simplex Virus (H.S.V.)

H.S.V. falls under two categories - HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is mainly transmitted by oral contact and is the culprit behind the commonly known cold-sore while HSV-2 is sexually transmitted and causes genital herpes[5].


Hepatitis refers to both the condition and the virus that causes it. Hepatitis causes the inflammation of the liver, this can progress to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and irreparable liver damage. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis include hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C[6].

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is a viral infection that is sexually transmitted - there are more than 100 varieties of the virus. It may take a few years or even decades for symptoms of HPV to occur as it’s common for the virus to remain dormant for a significant amount of time [7].

What causes viral STDs?

As mentioned above, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or diseases are most commonly spread through sexual contact, this means that nearly everyone who is sexually active is at risk of contracting an STD. They can also be spread through blood or sharing needles.

With that said, it’s important to note that some viral STDs can also be spread from mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth, this includes each of the 'four H’s' - HIV, Herpes, Hepatitis, and HPV.

Can you test for STDs from home?

The best way to test for an STD is to take a test - you can do this with your local doctor or from the comfort of your own home. Our popular home STD tests cover the same infections as provided by physicians, hospitals and government schemes.

You should consider getting tested if:

  • You’ve become sexually active
  • You’ve had unprotected sex
  • You’re experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
  • You’re entering into a new sexual relationship
  • You’ve received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected (STDs can remain dormant for years and/ or take up to three weeks to become detectable.)

Add descriptive tag

Buy an At-Home Sexual Health Test

Test and treat your sexual health from home with our range of at-home STD tests.


  1. World Health Organization. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Online: Who.int, 2019

  2. Microbiology Society. Are viruses alive? Online: Microbiologysociety.org, 2016

  3. World Health Organization. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Online: Who.int, 2019

  4. Mayo Clinc. HIV/AIDS. Online: Mayoclinic.org, 2020

  5. World Health Organization. Herpes simplex virus. Online: Who.int, 2017

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is viral hepatitis? Online: Cdc.gov, 2020

  7. Mayo Clinic. HPV Infection. Online: Mayoclinic.org, 2019