We’re Still Here!

keep-calm-because-we-are-still-hereYou may have heard that the state of Oregon is no longer funding the Oregon HIV/STD Hotline.  We here at Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) wanted to take a moment to let you know while funding sources may have changed, the invaluable statewide services we provide have not.  The Oregon HIV/STD Hotline will continue to provide HIV and STI information, support, and referrals via phone (English: 800.777.2437 or Spanish: 800.449.6940) and online chat (www.oregonaidshotline.com). 


There will be some exciting programmatic changes in the next couple of months and we’ll send updates once they become official.  In the meantime, please keep making referrals to the Hotline at the numbers listed above.  If you have questions about our services or would like to order Hotline cards please email the Hotline Coordinator, Claire, at cbackenstow@cascadeaids.org. If you would like to update your information or add your agency to our online resource guide please visit http://oregonaidshotline.com/submitresource.php.


If you would, please help us spread the word by forwarding this on to your networks!


On behalf of the Oregon HIV/STD Hotline staff, thank you!


Oregon Reminders

Have You Signed Up Yet?


Oregon Reminders :oregonreminders.org: is a NEW and exciting way to remember to test regularly for HIV and other STDs. You can also set medication reminders, refill reminders, and sign up for healthy living texts.

Sign up now for free and confidential text, phone, or email reminders. You can even customize your own messages!

When you sign up let them know that Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) sent you!




Check Us Out!

The Hotline has some new swag! 

New Posters…

This design also available in business cards and magnets!




New Condom Carriers…

Be Safe & Stylish!

Herpes Part 2: Symptoms and Transmission.

If you have anxiety about whether or not you have herpes, or if you have herpes and have anxiety about telling a prospective partner, a simple Google Image search will increase that anxiety at least tenfold.

The problem with these pictures of herpes is that they are the most extreme cases, and do not give an accurate representation of a herpes lesion. Looking at these images won’t give you any more information, but will give you so much more anxiety.

So what does a herpes lesion look like? A herpes lesion generally looks like a small blister or group of blisters that forms, then breaks open. The resulting sore takes one to two weeks to heal. This sore may sting and is generally uncomfortable. A herpes lesion in the genital region can form anywhere on the genitals, including on butt cheeks, near the anus, on vaginal lips, in the vaginal canal, on the penis, scrotum or on the inner thighs. However, herpes symptoms vary widely from person to person. Some people have symptoms so mild that they don’t notice them, or mistake them for another condition, like an insect bite, an ingrown hair, “jock itch,” or a yeast infection. Some people have very severe symptoms which are extremely painful and include itching, burning, stinging and tingling. Some symptoms which might occur in conjunction with the “classic” symptoms of blisters are flu-like symptoms such as fever and swollen glands. Some people will have painful urination or tingling or soreness in the area before a blister appears. How can you know if you have a herpes lesion? The only way to know for sure is to get tested.

Most people experience their first herpes symptoms between 2 and 14 days after their first exposure. Subsequent outbreaks can then happen at regular intervals or randomly. Many people who have had herpes for a while notice patterns or triggers for their herpes symptoms, and can even come to predict when an outbreak is going to occur. Some believe that stress, certain foods or certain activities increase the likelihood of a herpes outbreak.

The unfortunate news is that herpes symptoms and outbreaks will vary widely for each person. The less unfortunate news is that, for those who are infected, herpes does not affect the immune system. It is rare that adults will have any health problems due to herpes, beyond the discomfort of occasional outbreaks. However, it is important to note that having genital herpes makes it easier to acquire and/or transmit HIV.

The herpes symptom “life cycle” consists of a prodrome period, when the herpes virus (which lies dormant in a bundle of nerves at the base of the spine), wakes up and travels to the surface of the skin. This can cause the tingling or tenderness in an area where a herpes blister might form. If a blister forms, it will break open and form a lesion which will scab, then heal. The number of herpes outbreaks average 4-5 per year for most people. Repressive therapies, which will be discussed in the next blog post, can help lessen the number of outbreaks.

Herpes can be transmitted at any point that the virus is not dormant. During the prodrome period, and during an active outbreak the virus can be spread by skin to skin contact. It is possible for the virus to spread from the affected area to any skin, but it is most common that the virus is spread from genital to genital or mouth to genital contact. Additionally, even if no lesions or other symptoms are present, the virus could be shedding without symptoms (asymptomatic shedding) and transmission can occur. Because the herpes virus can be shed with no visible symptoms, and because it is spread by skin to skin contact, it is very common. In fact, the American Social Health Administration estimates that 1 in 5 adults has genital herpes and that 90 percent of those who have the virus are unaware that they have it.

However, like we noted above, herpes is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but it doesn’t cause any damage to the immune system and, for the most part, adults will not have any adverse health effects from a herpes infection. It is important, though, to pay attention to any symptoms that might be herpes and have any suspected lesions or areas swabbed and tested for herpes. Knowing whether or not you have herpes allows you to make sensible and informed decisions about sexual activity and allows you to tell your partners so they can make sensible and informed decisions as well.

Although condoms aren’t 100 percent effective at stopping herpes transmission, condoms do reduce transmission between outbreaks. When an outbreak occurs or when an outbreak is suspected, couples should abstain from having genital-to-genital or mouth-to-genital contact during these times to reduce the risk of transmission. Other forms of sex that don’t include skin-to-skin contact can be enjoyed during this time, such as dry humping with clothing on or mutual masturbation.

If you think you might have a herpes lesion, go to your doctor or a testing clinic as soon as you can for the most accurate results. If you have questions about where to find herpes testing, give us a call at 800-777-2437.

For additional information on herpes, see these resources below:
Comprehensive and credible information on herpes can be found on the American Social Health Administration website at http://www.ashastd.org/herpes/.

To hear Dr. Anna Kaminski from Planned Parenthood and Dan Savage talk about herpes on one of his podcasts, visit http://www.thestranger.com/SavageLovePodcast/archives/2010/07/13/savage-love-episode-195 to listen.

Herpes – What is it?

Part 1 of a 3 part series.

How do you talk to your sexual partners about STDs? How about STIs? And…. what is the difference between a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and a sexually transmitted infection (STI)? The American Social Health Association describes the distinction: the term disease “implies a clear medical problem, usually [with] some obvious signs or symptoms. But in truth several of the most common STDs have no signs or symptoms in the majority of persons infected. Or they have mild signs and symptoms that can be easily overlooked” and, so they should now be described as an infection.

One STI that is cloaked in mystery is herpes, but it doesn’t need to be. If you don’t have herpes, learning about it helps you avoid contracting it. If you do have herpes, understanding it helps you avoid transmitting it and helps you talk to your sexual partners about risk reduction. And sometimes, people can have herpes and not know it, so in the interest of safety, let’s talk herpes.

Herpes is a virus. It’s a virus that has two types. Herpes Simplex 1 (HSV-1)  and Herpes Simplex 2 (HSV-2). Both can cause blisters, sores, bumps or a rash to form. The difference between Herpes Simplex 1 and Herpes Simplex 2 is where the sores are generally located on the body. In the case of HSV-1, the sores are found on and around the mouth, and are called cold sores or fever blisters. HSV-2 generally causes sores on and around the genitals (penis, vagina and vulva), the anus, thigh, or buttocks. The genital infection is what people generally think of when they hear the word “herpes.” But both types of virus are technically “herpes.” There are also cases of HSV-2 infecting the mouth and  HSV-1 causing genital breakouts, but there is no way of knowing, without testing, which type is causing the breakout. However, generally, the two types prefer to infect their customary areas.

So, what is a virus? A virus, when contracted, invades a body’s cells and takes over those cells in order to replicate. Our bodies fight viruses with antibodies and can often suppress them so that the infected cells don’t replicate, but viruses don’t die off, and viruses can resurface. Also, viruses are often contagious without any symptoms and some spread very easily. Some viruses, like colds and plantar warts, don’t cause much alarm, as our bodies can generally suppress them in a reasonable amount of time. Other viruses, like HIV, can cause major health complications and may eventually cause death. Although people don’t die from herpes, and although herpes can be a manageable infection, it is important to understand how herpes is transmitted, herpes symptoms, and how doctors test for herpes in order to reduce the chance of transmission.

Herpes is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Over 60 million adults in the United States have herpes and a million new cases are diagnosed every year. An estimated 70 percent of people who have herpes don’t know when they contracted it and don’t know that they had an initial outbreak—or didn’t even have an initial outbreak.

like 70% of americans, michael scott gets cold sores (which are caused by the herpes virus)

Herpes is spread by skin to skin contact and can be spread even without signs of an outbreak. Generally, herpes is a manageable, non lethal virus, but it does come with increased risk of other sexually transmitted infections. A person with genital herpes has a much higher risk of acquiring HIV. And a person who has both HIV and herpes is more likely to transmit both infections.

Since herpes is so common, and generally misunderstood, we are going to dedicate three blog posts to it. This first one has given a general overview of what herpes is. It’s a virus that causes nonlethal outbreaks. It’s the most common STD and it’s spread by skin to skin contact. In the next couple of posts, we are going to go into more detail about the symptoms and transmission of herpes and the testing for and treatment of herpes.

In the meantime, if you have questions give us a call 800.777.2437 or chat with us online at oregonaidshotline.com

Put a Ring On It!

The Reality Behind the Female Condom:

The Female Condom (also called the Reality Condom, Bottom Condom, or Insertive Condom) is a condom that can be inserted into the vagina or the anus.  It’s made out of a non-latex rubber (either polyurethane or nitrile) and is safe to use if you have a latex allergy.



How to use the Insertive Condom:

1.) Check the expiration date.  Open the condom by tearing it at the top right corner.

2a.) For vaginal sex:  make sure the inner ring is at the bottom of the pouch, squeeze the flexible inner ring between your thumb and finger so that the ring becomes long and narrow, and use your finger to insert it into your vagina.  It may be easier to insert it if you squat or put one leg up.  Push it up as far as it will go while keeping the outer ring on the outside of the vagina.  The inner ring will fit behind the pubic bone and over the cervix.  The outer ring should lie over the lips of the vagina.



2b.) For anal sex: make sure the inner ring is at the bottom of the pouch, squeeze the flexible inner ring between your thumb and finger so that the ring becomes long and narrow.  Gently insert the inner ring into your anus.  Use your index finger inside the condom to push the ring past the sphincter muscle.   You can also remove the internal ring (some people find that more comfortable) and either use your partner’s erect penis, your fingers, or a sex toy (such as a dildo) to insert it.  After it’s inserted make sure the outer ring is outside of and covering the anal opening.






3.) After the condom is in place, make sure it’s not twisted by feeling the inside of the condom.  Add more lube to the penis and the  inside of the condom and then guide your partner’s penis into the condom.   Make sure that your partner’s penis is inside the condom and not on the outside of it.

4.) To remove the condom twist the outer ring and gently pull out.  Wrap the condom in the package or a tissue and throw it away (don’t flush it).

Condom Comparison Fun Facts:
Male Condom Insertive/Female/Reality Condom
Rolled on the penis Inserted into the vagina or anus
Most kinds made out of latex (lamb skin does not protect against HIV) Made from synthetic rubber
Penis needs to be erect Can be put in up to 8 hours before sex (not dependent on erection)
Covers most of the penis and protects internal genitalia Covers both internal and part of the external genitalia, and the base of the penis (offering broader protection).
Important: the Female and Male condom should not be used at the same time.

Have more questions about condoms?  Call the Oregon HIV/STD Hotline at 800.777.2437 or chat with us online at www.oregonaidshotline.com

Our (Spanish) Hotline: Servicios de Intervención Temprana (telephonica), Apoyo Latino

Apoyo Latino: 1.800.499.6940

Apoyo Latino is the Oregon Spanish speaking HIV/STD Hotline provided by Cascade AIDS Project.  Apoyo Latino provides culturally relevant HIV/AIDS information, support, and referrals to the Latino and/or Spanish speaking community.  It is a confidential and free service open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Hotline Counselors have quick access to thousands of up-to-date local and national resources and can make appropriate referrals as needed.  Many calls include referrals to HIV/STD testing sites, AIDS services organizations, legal, financial, substance abuse, domestic violence, physical or mental health care, support groups, and GLBTQ services.

Counselors are also able to help HIV+ callers get connected to the support services they need including case management, legal, housing, prescription coverage support, financial, housing, and transportation assistance.

If you or someone you know is infected or affected by HIV/AIDS or STDS and need assistance you can call anytime during our hours to speak with a compassionate and knowledgeable individual.

Servicios de Intervención Temprana, Apoyo Latino

(antiguamente conocido como Care Link y Apoyo Latino)

Cascade AIDS Project


Es un programa de Cascade AIDS Project que ayuda a la gente con VIH/SIDA a conectarse con servicios relacionados con el VIH/SIDA.


  • Ayudarle a encontrar servicios médicos y un trabajador de casos personales
  • Ayudarle a encontrar un seguro médico
  • Hacer sus citas médicas y/o llevarle al médico
  • Ayudarle a llenar las formas necesarias
  • Abogar por usted con los proveedores de servicios
  • Ayudarle a encontrar recursos de transporte
  • Ofrecerle información y referirle a servicios
  • Hablar sobre las barreras que existen por la diferencia del idioma y la cultura


Todos los servicios son gratuitos y están disponibles para todos, posean o no documentos.

Horario: Se atiende de lunes a viernes de 9am a 5pm.


503-223-5907 Hay personal bilingüe.

1-800-499-6940 Línea en español.

%d bloggers like this: