It’s free, fast and honest.
It’s free, fast and honest.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Let’s talk blow jobs. This is the mouth on penis action. If you want to eliminate any possible risk of STDs then use a polyurethane, polyisoprene, or latex condom. Don’t like the taste of condoms? Fear not, there are condoms that come in different flavors!
OK, OK… I can actually hear you sighing from here. I know, using condoms for oral sex isn’t realistic for everyone. The good news is that if barriers aren’t your thing there are still ways to lower your risk.
Here are a couple tricks of the trade:
The low down on going down:
When you’re performing oral sex on a vagina it’s a similar deal. Using a barrier like a dental dam (thin sheet made out of latex), condom (cutting it down the side), or saran wrap will do the trick. Stay away from microwavable saran wrap because it’s more porous (has bigger holes in it) and HIV may be able to get through the holes. For added pleasure slap some water or silicone based lube on the side of the barrier that will come into contact with the vagina. If you don’t want to use a barrier then try to minimize how much fluid you swallow. You should know: there is an increased risk for getting HIV is she is menstruating (having her period) because blood has more virus in it than vaginal secretions (aka the fluid in the vagina).
Ah, yes, the licking of the bum. HIV is not typically transmitted through pooh, BUT there are other things like hepatitis A (there’s a vaccine you can get to prevent this!), parasites, and other STDs that can be. You can use a barrier such as a dental dam (thin sheet made out of latex), condom (cutting it down the side), or saran wrap (preferably non microwavable) to protect yourself. Pleasure tip: put some water or silicone based lube on the side of the barrier that will be facing the butt. One thing to know is that if you’re going to be rimming someone who just received anal sex (bottomed) then there’s the possibility of blood being present that can transmit different viruses, including HIV.
When it’s all said and done:
Get checked out. Most STDs don’t have symptoms so get checked regularly. Have them look in your mouth and swab your throat as well as your goodies. I hear this a lot: “So what if I get a little gonorrhea in the throat? I can clear that up with antibiotics!” Well, yes, you can BUT some STDs aren’t curable (i.e. herpes) and if you have a STD in your mouth then it’s easier to get HIV from performing oral sex.
If you and your partner are monogamous you can both get checked out. You can’t get something from someone who doesn’t have it. And if they do have something that isn’t curable, then you’ll know what you’re looking for!
So there you have it. Oral sex in a nutshell. Have questions? Need more info? Call the Oregon HIV/STD Hotline 800.777.2437, we’re here to help! You can also chat with us online at www.orgeonaidshotline.com