FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

We all have questions. If you have a question different from the ones listed - send it to us! We have a free texting service (text 4health to 313131) or use the online submission form here

Are humans and apes the only animals that get HIV?

Other animals have their own type of HIV.  Cats have Feline HIV for instance.  Animal forms of HIV are different from human forms and often affect the animal in different ways than HIV affects humans.

Can a female give other females STDs?

STDs can be passed on through genital contact, most often during vaginal and anal sex. STDs may also be passed on during oral sex and genital-to-genital contact. STDs can be passed on between straight and same-sex partners—even when the infected partner has no signs or symptoms.

Can a guy who is paralyzed get an erection?

The male erection is dependent on blood flow and not the nervous system. So, a guy who is paralyzed could get an erection.

Can all STDs be transferred by kissing?

Chances are very slim but yes you can get STD through kissing.  It's possible to catch herpes just from kissing someone on the mouth. The herpes virus can be spread not only through kissing, but also through sharing utensils and cups. The tricky thing about herpes is that the signs are not always visible. Herpes is often dormant, and a person can pass it along without ever showing any signs of having it. Diseases that are not STDs, like mono, the common cold, stomach bugs, and strep throat, also can be passed through saliva. STDs can be transmitted through all types of sex, including oral sex. So, although mouth-to-mouth kissing can only pass herpes, mouth-to-genital contact can spread many STDs, including HIV. So is it possible, yes...but not as common as through sexual contact.

Can I get STDs if I wear a rubber?

Condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are the only form of protection that can help stop the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV, and prevent pregnancy. However, you can still get STDs if you wear condoms, especially if there are open sores in the genital area.

Can you get AIDS if you have sexual intercourse in the anal?

Yes, it is possible for either sex partner to become infected with HIV during anal sex. HIV can be found in the blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, or vaginal fluid of a person infected with the virus. In general, the person receiving the semen is at greater risk of getting HIV because the lining of the rectum is thin and may allow the virus to enter the body during anal sex. However, a person who inserts his penis into an infected partner also is at risk because HIV can enter through the urethra (the opening at the tip of the penis) or through small cuts, abrasions, or open sores on the penis. Having unprotected (without a condom) anal sex is considered to be a very risky behavior in terms of STD/HIV risk. If people choose to have anal sex, they should use a latex condom. Most of the time, condoms work well. However, condoms are more likely to break during anal sex than during vaginal sex. Thus, even with a condom, anal sex can be risky. A person should use a water-based lubricant in addition to the condom to reduce the chances of the condom breaking.

Can you get rid of STDs?

STDs that are caused by bacterial infections (Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and others) are easily cured with antibiotics. Other STDs that are caused by viruses (Herpes, HPV, HIV, and others) are not curable.

Can you get STDs on your mouth?

Yes. Although the chance of getting or giving a sexually transmitted disease (STD) during oral sex is smaller than vaginal or anal sex, it is still risky to have unprotected oral sex. Here's why.  Many STDs want to infect warm, wet places, like your mouth, urethra, vulva, vagina, penis, and/or anus. This means that many STDs can be passed from your mouth to genitals and vice versa. The sexually transmitted infections that can be passed during oral sex are herpes, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, and syphilis. There is a very small risk for getting and giving HIV through oral sex, too. This doesn't mean that you can't enjoy oral sex. But it does mean that you need to plan ahead, talk to your partner, and use protection. One way to make oral sex safer is to get tested regularly for STDs, and to pay attention to any potential symptoms of STDs, and get them checked out by a health care provider right away.  Typical symptoms include burning sensations during sex or when you pee, unusually strong smells from your genitals, or bumps on your genitals, anus, and/or mouth and lips. Most STDs have NO symptoms, so it is still really important to get tested regularly. (To find a clinic near you, click here.)  If you do not abstain from oral sex, using a latex barrier is your best chance of avoiding most STDs. When a guy is receiving oral sex, he can use a latex condom to protect himself and his partner. Many condom brands now have flavored condoms to make using one during oral sex taste better.
When a girl is receiving oral sex, she can use the Sheer Glyde dam to protect herself or her partner. Her partner can use a flavored lube on the outside of the dam to make it taste better.


Can you get STDs or HIV without having sex?

Yes, some STDs are transmissible by contact with infected skin.  This is the case with HPV and Syphilis, for example.  Coming into contact with a sore or lesion from an STD infection can lead to transmission of the infection.

Do you die from all STDs?

STDs, when left untreated, can cause serious damage to your sexual health. While you cannot die from the diseases themselves, you can die from related complications. For example, HIV causes AIDS. Individuals can die from a variety of AIDS-related complications. HPV (the virus causing genital warts) is very closely associated with the development of cervical cancer, a terminal illness.

Does double bagging help prevent STDs?

Health care providers, health educators and condom manufacturing representatives all agree that you SHOULD NOT wear two condoms during sexual intercourse.  While there does not yet seem to be any scientific literature to support this stance, it comes from the advice of professionals (including the Centers for Disease Control, OB/GYN doctors and nurse practitioners, and condom manufacturers) who are most knowledgeable in the area of contraception and sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention.  Their explanation is that during sex, an excessive amount of friction will occur between the two condoms and increase the likelihood of either, or both, condoms breaking. When worn correctly, one condom is adequate (88%-98% effective) for pregnancy prevention and for protection against some STDs such as HIV/AIDS.    If you are concerned about pregnancy prevention specifically, you can opt to use condoms in combination with other contraceptive methods such as oral contraception (“the pill”) or a diaphragm.  Also, several condom manufacturers sell extra-strength condoms that have shown to be even more tear-resistant than normal strength condoms.  Extra-strength condoms are especially recommended for anal intercourse.  And, since extra-strength condoms are made of a thicker latex rubber, they may also have the additional effect of reducing a man’s sensitivity and allowing him to delay orgasm. For correct condom use instructions, visit the following website for detailed instructions: www.durex.com click on the button titled “education.”

Herpes 1 and Herpes 2. Is there Herpes 3 and Herpes 4?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). Most genital herpes is caused by HSV-2. Most individuals have no or only minimal signs or symptoms from HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection. When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take two to four weeks to heal the first time they occur. Typically, another outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first, but it almost always is less severe and shorter than the first outbreak.  Although the infection can stay in the body indefinitely, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease over a period of years.

How and why would someone get tested for STDs?

Population
Recommendations
Sexually active women; 25 years
 Chlamydia testing every year

Sexually active men or women, who are not in a long term,

mutually monogamous relationship

 Hepatitis B vaccination

Annual HIV testing

Chlamydia, as recommended by your health care provider

All men who have sex with men (MSM)

Hepatitis A vaccination

Hepatitis B vaccination

Sexually active men who have sex with men (MSM),

who are not in a long term, mutually monogamous relationship

Hepatitis A vaccination

Hepatitis B vaccination

At least once every year for HIV, Syphilis, Chlamydia, and

Gonorrhea

 Pregnant women

Chlamydia, at first prenatal visit

Syphilis, at first prenatal visit

HIV, as early as possible in the pregnancy

Hepatitis B, during an early prenatal visit

Hepatitis C, as recommended by your health care provider

Gonorrhea, as recommended by your health care provider

Any person seeking STD evaluation or treatment

Testing for HIV

Hepatitis B vaccination

Testing for Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, as recommended by your health care provider

How big of an age difference is too big?

The Alaska age of consent laws are unique. The age of consent in Alaska is 16. This is the age at which an individual may consent to have sex with someone over 18, legally, in Alaska. In Alaska, the laws on statutory rape depend, in part, on the age difference between the two partners. The law recognizes statutory rape only in cases involving an age difference of more than 3 years. A 20 year old man who has sex with a 15 year old girl, in Alaska, is guilty of statutory rape. A 17 year old male who has consensual sex with a 15 year old girl is not guilty of statutory rape, under Alaska law.  Dating someone who is much older or younger than you can lead to difficult or even unhealthy relationships since the older person in the relationship generally has more power or influence over the younger person.  This can lead to the younger person having fewer opportunities to make their own choices about the terms of the relationship or sexual behavior.  Dating someone nearer to your own age is no guarantee of a healthily relationship, but avoids many of the issues associates with dating someone much older than you.

How did they find STDs?

STDs have been known throughout history: gonorrhea was described by the ancient Egyptians, and was recognized by Greek and Roman medical writers. By the Middle Ages both gonorrhea and syphilis were widespread.

How do people who are allergic to latex protect themselves against STDs?

You can use polyurethane (male or female) condoms, which are made from a different kind of plastic. Polyurethane condoms also protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

How do you get eye herpes?

Eye herpes is transmitted through contact with another person who is having an outbreak, or through self contact and contamination during an active herpes infection (such as a cold sore of the lip). The herpes simplex virus enters the body through the nose or mouth and travels into the nerves, where it may be inactive. The virus can remain dormant for years and may never become active. The exact cause of an outbreak is unknown, but stress-related factors such as fever, sunburn, major dental or surgical procedures and trauma are often associated with incidents.
Once the initial outbreak occurs, the NEI says untreated eye herpes has about a 40-50 percent chance of returning. There is no specific time frame for ocular herpes to reappear; it could be several weeks or even several years following the original occurrence. Although symptoms usually present themselves in only one eye, the virus possibly could affect the other eye as well.

How does AIDS kill you?

AIDS stands for Acquired (means you can get infected with it); Immune Deficiency (means a weakness in the body's system that fights diseases) Syndrome (means a group of health problems that make up a disease). AIDS is caused by HIV - Human Immunodeficiency Virus. As HIV disease continues, it slowly wears down the immune system. Viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria that usually don't cause any problems can make you very sick if your immune system is damaged. These are called "opportunistic infections."  These opportunistic infections are usually what causes a person with AIDS to die.

How long ago did STDs start?

STDs are viruses or bacteria. AIDS is thought to have originated from monkeys in Africa. Like all bacteria and viruses, over time, they evolve. I'm sure these things have been around for a very long time. The common cold has learned to adapt over time and so has the flu virus. These things are very adaptive. AIDS has even mutated to a certain point where it resists certain AIDS medications. STDS at one point could have been a simple bacteria or virus that mutated. I don't think the scientific community is sure how they originated except to say that it's always been here.

How many calories are burned during sex?

This depends on how much you weigh, but an average of 30 calories are burned for a 100lb person for every 10 minutes of sex.

How many STDs are for life?

Four sexually transmitted viral infections are still incurable today: Hepatitis B, genital herpes, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which causes AIDS. However, even in the absence of a cure, medical science has developed some helpful strategies: There is a vaccination against Hepatitis B, the symptoms of genital herpes and HPV can be effectively treated, and AIDS patients now live longer thanks to various ever-improving medications.

How many STDs are there?

There are at least 25 different sexually transmitted diseases with a range of different symptoms. These diseases may be spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex.

If you have an STD and ur pregnant can it effect your baby?

Women who are pregnant can become infected with the same sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as women who are not pregnant. Pregnancy does not provide women or their babies any protection against STDs. The consequences of an STD can be significantly more serious, even life threatening, for a woman and her baby if the woman becomes infected with an STD while pregnant. It is important that women be aware of the harmful effects of STDs and knows how to protect themselves and their children against infection. Some STDs, such as genital herpes and bacterial vaginosis, are quite common in pregnant women in the United States. Other STDs, notably HIV and syphilis, are much less common in pregnant women.

Should they separate the people with STDs from the people who don't have STDs?

No, this would be a form of discrimination and lead to people with STD being treated unfairly.  Public Health officials can quarantine or separate people with very infectious diseases like tuberculosis; but STDs, even HIV do not fall into this category. 

 

What are the signs of an STD and HIV?

The most common sign of having an STD or HIV is having NO SYMPTOM AT ALL.

What happens to the genitals after you get STDs?

Different STDs may produce different symptoms on the genitals such as bumbs, open sores, burning with urination or discharge. However, most STDs will cause NO noticeable signs or symptoms.

What if your partner doesn't tell you they have a STD?

Most people do not know they have STDs because many STD don’t have symptoms.  It’s safest to assume that anyone you have sex with could have an STD they don’t know about.  Finding ways to share intimacy with each other without intercourse or using condoms are ways to protect yourself and your partner even if you are your partner have STDs that are undiagnosed.

What is an orgasm?

Orgasm is the way your body responds to being sexually excited. When orgasms happen, your body gets tense and blood flows to your genital region. Muscles in the genital area contract to release that tension. And it feels good. Some people say orgasms feel like a slow build-up with an intense—or peak—moment of excitement. Others say their entire body tingles. Everybody feels different. Often people experience their first orgasm through masturbation.  Men and women usually have orgasms in different ways and at different times. The simultaneous orgasms you see in the movies seem normal, but it hardly ever happens that way. Most men are able to have orgasms during sexual intercourse, but many women aren't. Most women need direct stimulation of their clitoris to have an orgasm. Usually men ejaculate (release a whitish fluid from the tip of the penis) when they have an orgasm. Most women don't ejaculate (although a small number say they do, see the G-Spot FAQ). Some women have a difficult time reaching orgasm - it either takes a long time or doesn't happen at all. Some women can have one orgasm after another. Most men need time to rest in between orgasms – this is called the ‘refractory’ period.

What is eye herpes?

Caused by the type 1 herpes simplex virus, eye herpes (ocular herpes) is a common, recurrent viral infection affecting the eyes. This type of herpes virus can cause inflammation and scarring of the cornea that sometimes is referred to as a cold sore on the eye. Herpes of the eye can be transmitted through close contact with an infected person whose virus is active.

What is HIV?

"HIV" stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Many people also refer to HIV as the "AIDS virus."

What is STDs?

A sexually transmitted disease (STD), also known as sexually transmitted infection (STI) or venereal disease (VD) is an illness that has a significant probability of transmission between humans through sexual behavior, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex.

What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. It has often been called “the great imitator” because so many of the signs and symptoms are indistinguishable from those of other diseases.

What is the average % of STDs per year?

CDC estimates that 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.

What is the most treatable STD?

Many STDs are treatable. However, even the once easily cured gonorrhea has become resistant to many of the older traditional antibiotics. Other STDs, such as herpes, AIDS, and genital warts, all of which are caused by viruses, have no cure.

What is the scariest part of STDs?

Everyone would answer this questions differently, however, the fact that someone can have an STD and transmit it to someone they love without knowing it is a particularly scary part of STDs. 

What STDs are transferred to children?

Most STDs can be passed from a mother to her baby before or during birth including chlamydia, HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and HPV.

What's the deadliest STD?

HIV is the deadliest STD because it leads to AIDS, which is usually fatal. Condoms are highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV.

Where can I get birth control?

You can get birth control from the Public Health Nursing Clinic or your local tribal clinic or hospital.

Where else can you get herpes?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). Most genital herpes is caused by HSV-2. Most individuals have no or only minimal signs or symptoms from HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection. HSV-1 can cause genital herpes, but it more commonly causes infections of the mouth and lips, so-called “fever blisters.”

Why are we learning about STDs?

Knowledge is the first step towards informed actions.  Everyone should know about STDs so they can protect themselves and their ones they love.

Why couldn't we learn this at a younger age?

School districts provide sexual health education at different times and for different age groups across the US.  There is not one unified standard for all school districts.  For years, adults have had plenty of debate over when and what teens should learn about sex. Rarely do they ask teens their opinion about what they need to learn. Some adults say that giving young people information about contraception and safer sex encourages them to have sex or gives them permission to have sex.  But research doesn't back this up. Studies show that comprehensive sexuality education does not encourage teens to become sexually active. In fact, it's just the opposite. Teens who get "comprehensive sexuality education"—which includes information about abstinence and safer sex, contraception, pregnancy options, relationships, GLBTQ issues, and pleasure—are more likely to wait to have sex than teens who do not receive this type of sex ed. The website Sex etc has some great resources for you to get involved in sex education. http://www.sexetc.org/page/take_action.

Why do people with STDs still want to have sex and spread them?

The vast majority of people who know they have STDs do not want to spread them.  Most people will seek treatment when they find out they are infected and take steps to protect their sexual partners.

Why do they call HIV and AIDS two different names when they are the same thing?

HIV is the virus that causes the disease AIDS. Although HIV causes AIDS, a person can be infected with HIV for many years before AIDS develops. AIDS is diagnosed when you have a variety of symptoms, infections, and specific test results.

Why doesn't the government support this like a war?

The U.S. Government and private organizations provides funds to prevent treat and track STD infections in the population. This financial support is not enough to fully address the problem. To find out ways you can help prevent STD infections through education visit, http://www.sexetc.org/page/take_action.

Why is it important to know about STDs?

Knowing about STDs gives you the ability to make informed choices about having sex.  Now that that you know about how STD are transmitted, you can use this knowledge to protect yourself and your partners.

Would you always need to wear a condom when having intercourse?

Yes. STD prevention as well as AIDS prevention (and pregnancy prevention) are important reasons for condom use. Refraining from having unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner is the best way to achieve AIDS prevention and other STD prevention. Latex condoms are highly effective and when used consistently and correctly.  Many people find that once they get used to condoms, they do not interfere with sex at all.  In fact, many people report that using condoms make sex more enjoyable because they are not worried about getting an STD.