STIs and RTIs

  • Can a virgin get a sexually transmitted infection?

    Yes. Virginity has different meanings for different people. Some women and men believe they are preserving their virginity if they have sex play that does not involve vaginal intercourse. But they can still get certain sexually transmitted infections from anal, oral, and even kissing (such as herpes and syphilis).

  • How can one know if s/he has a sexually transmitted infection (STI)? How long does one take to become sick after getting an STI?

    As the name suggests, an STD is transmitted through unsafe sex with an infected person. Symptoms of STDs vary and can appear within 1 week of exposure to 3 weeks. Symptoms of STD for men are quite easy to spot, usually appearing in/around the genital area. In women many STDs may not manifest symptoms initially. In men, symptoms include, a yellow/white discharge from the penis, inflammation of the testicles and prostate gland. A common symptom in women is a change in vaginal discharge – it may increase, become yellow or greenish, or develop a foul smell. Other symptoms common to all include boils/ blisters/ rashes, burning during urination and irritation and/or discharge from the anus. Untreated STDs can cause cervical and other cancers, chronic hepatitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and other complications. However, when diagnosed and treated early, almost all STDs are completely curable.

  • I was just diagnosed today with HPV. I’m wondering about the HPV vaccine. If someone has HPV already, will the vaccine prevent future outbreaks?

    It depends on the type(s) of HPV (human papilloma virus) a person has.
    In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a vaccine, Gardasil, that protects against four of the 40 types of HPV that are sexually transmitted. Two of the types, 6 and 11, are the ones that cause 90 percent of the outbreaks of genital warts. The two others, 16 and 18, cause 70 percent of cases of cancer of the cervix. They are also associated with cancers of the vulva, penis, anus, or throat.

    There is no clear evidence that the vaccine will protect an already infected person. Because, however, a person may be infected with one of the HPV types covered by the vaccine but not with another, the vaccine will protect against the HPV type(s) that a person does not already have. The new vaccine does not offer protection against all the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. So sexually active women are urged to continue to have regular Pap smear tests; a test that detects cervical cancer in its early, treatable stages.

  • I am a woman and want to know if I can contract HPV by performing oral sex on a woman who has it? A lot of the information available seems to pertain to mostly heterosexual activity.

    Yes, it is possible. HPV, the human papilloma virus, can be passed from partner to partner through any intimate skin-to-skin activity. Women who have sex with women, and men who have sex with men, and people who have sex with the other sex are all at risk for becoming infected with HPV and many other sexually transmitted infections.

    Most often, HPV infections resolve on their own. But in some cases they stay. And certain kinds of HPV can lead to cervical cancer. That’s why it is very important for women who have sex with women, whether or not they identify as lesbians, to have periodic gynecological visits and Pap tests to detect abnormal growths in the cervix that could lead to cancer. Early detection and treatment save thousands of women’s lives.

  • Can shaving infected hair get rid of scabies and pubic lice?

    No. Shaving, dousing with kerosene, hot baths, and other so-called remedies won’t work. Scabies and pubic lice are tiny insects are parasites that may be transmitted through sexual and intimate contact or from infested bed sheets and clothing. Symptoms usually include intense itching of the genitals and anus. To get rid of these parasites one needs to shower with a medication from neck-to-toe and dry clean or boil all towels, bed sheets, and clothes exposed. Treat the partner as well to avoid re-infection.

    Scabies and pubic lice are highly contagious and condoms in this case can’t completely protect from infection because they don’t cover all the areas that are.

  • Should a guy wear a condom / woman use a dental dam when receiving oral sex? Does it prevent any diseases?

    Using condoms or dental dams can reduce the risk of infection for both partners. The infections most commonly transmitted by oral sex are gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis, and syphilis.

    The risks from oral sex are generally lower than the risks from vaginal or anal intercourse.

  • About 3 weeks ago I had a cold sore on my lip and had sex with my boyfriend. He gave me oral sex during that time. Today, my vulva is extremely itchy, red, and irritated. Could my fiancé have picked up my cold sore on his lips and infected me with it?

    You will need to be examined by a qualified health care provider to see if you have a sexually transmitted infection or some other condition that is irritating you. But it is possible for infections to follow the route you describe. For example, although herpes virus-1 (HSV-1) is most commonly associated with cold sores around the mouth, it can infect the sex organs. And, while herpes virus 2 (HSV-2) is most commonly associated with infections of the sex organs, it can infect the mouth and throat.

    During oral sex — anilingus (on an anus), cunnilingus (on a vulva), or fellatio (on a penis) — the HSV-1 or HSV-2 in a cold sore can be passed directly to the sex organs or anus. It is also possible for the fluid from the “weeping” sore to be passed from mouth to mouth and then to the sex organs where it can start an infection. That’s why it’s best for people with open herpes sores, oral or genital, to refrain from intimate contact with other people.

    If you are diagnosed with herpes, it may be a good idea for your partner to be tested, too. There are medications available today that reduce the number and severity of outbreaks and also reduce the risk of one partner infecting the other.

  • What are RTIs and STIs?

    RTI stands for Reproductive Tract Infection. It refers to infections that affect the reproductive tract. RTIs are caused by an overgrowth of organisms that are normally present in the vagina or when bacteria or micro-organisms are introduced into the reproductive tract during sexual contact or through medical procedures.

    STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection, refers to infections transmitted through sexual contact.

  • What exactly do people mean when they say “safer sex”? Is it always about condoms?

    Condoms are an important part of safer sex, but safer sex means more than just using condoms. Safer sex is a relative term. It is anything you decide to do to lower the risk of becoming infected or infecting someone else with a sexually transmitted infection. Here are some examples:

    • If you decide to have sexual intercourse, using a latex or female condom makes it safer.
    • If you decide to have oral sex instead of unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse, it is safer
    • If you decide to have protected oral sex (condoms or dental dams used) instead of unprotected oral sex, it is safer.
    • If you decide to rub against each other with your clothes off instead of having intercourse or oral sex, it is safer. Rubbing against each other with your clothes on is even safer.
    • If you decide to masturbate each other instead of rubbing against each other with your clothes off, it is safer.
    • If, after masturbating each other, you wash your hands before touching your own genitals, it is even safer.
    • If you decide to masturbate alone or have phone sex or cybersex instead of physical contact with someone else, it is even safer.
  • How is HIV transmitted?

    There are four routes of transmission for HIV:

    1. Unprotected sex with an infected person.
    2. Infected mother to child, either during pregnancy, delivery or through breast feeding.
    3. Through contaminated blood and blood products (including organ and tissue transplants)
    4. Sharing of unsterilized used infected needles, syringes and other medical equipments like dentists’ instruments.
  • What is the window period?

    HIV test do not look for the presence of HIV in the body: they look for the presence of antibodies produced by the immune system when it encounters HIV. It may take up to 3 months for the body to produce enough HIV antibodies to produce a positive test result. This three month period between infection and a positive test is known as the window period. During this time a person is already infected and capable of spreading HIV.

  • What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

    HIV or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that slowly, over a period of time, destroys a person’s immune system, if present in their body. Because of a weakening immune system, the person may develop infections and diseases and that is called AIDS. There is presently no cure for AIDS. One can however, protect oneself from being infected by following some simple precautions like: Always having sex with a condom, getting blood tested before having a transfusion, using only disposable syringes and not sharing needles.

  • Who should be tested for HIV? How often? Are the results always 100 percent accurate? How are they done?

    Anyone who has been at risk of being infected should be tested. That means any person who has had unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse or who has shared needles with someone. Pregnant women who are at risk can be tested and treated so that their babies can be born uninfected.

    It takes up to three months after infection for the tests to be accurate. Results that show no infection are accepted as accurate — unless unsafe sex or sharing needles happened within three to six months of testing. Tests are double-checked if they show infection. Testing has gotten simpler and faster over the years with the prick test which takes one drop of blood and can detect the virus within 6 weeks after the episode of unprotected sex.

  • Can’t HIV pass through condoms? Why use them if they don’t even work to prevent sexually transmitted infections?

    The virus is embedded in blood, semen, or vaginal fluids, none of which can get through an intact condom. Condoms offer the best protection against sexually transmitted infections for sexually active people and they protect against unintended pregnancy.

    Latex condoms offer very good protection against HIV making the risk of HIV transmission with a condom reduced by as much as 10,000 times. They also reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HPV (human papilloma virus), PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), syphilis, and trichomoniasis.

  • The morning after having sex I always have pee that burns. I’ve noticed it happen more than once and it goes away. I always use condoms so i dont think its an STI. Why is that?

    Having sex can introduce bacteria into the vagina and urethra, causing urinary tract infections (UTIs). That could create a burning sensation during urination. When you sleep after sex you leave the bacteria to grow and then the next morning it burns but you would have cleaned out your urinary tract. What could help is to always remember to pee after you have sex so that you clean out your tract and avoid the burning feeling later.

    Many women dont get symptoms for STIs, condoms are protective, but it would be good to have regular checkups for STIs and especially in the case of unprotected sex.