Posts Tagged ‘stis’

HPV: What Everyone Needs to Know

Did you know that HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted infection? It’s a virus that is spread through skin-to-skin contact. There are over 100 different types of HPV. Some cause genital warts and some can lead to cervical cancer or other types cancers. I know that sounds scary, but the good news is that the majority of types of HPV cause no health problems.


There are a lot of misconceptions about what HPV is and how you get it. Below are some important facts that everyone should know about HPV.

1.) HPV is extremely common. If fact, it’s so common most people (75%) who are sexually active have been infected with at least one type of HPV.

2.) Infections can be subclinical, meaning the virus lives in the skin without causing symptoms. This is why many people with HPV do not know they have it or that they could spread it. It can take weeks, months or years for genital warts to surface after becoming infected.

images3.) Condoms don’t always protect against the virus. Warts can grow on areas of the genitals not covered by a condom. But barriers such as condoms or dental dams can also reduce your risk of getting HPV during oral, anal, or vaginal sex.

4.) There are vaccines that protect against the types of HPV that causes most of the cases of cervical cancer and genital warts (talk to your doctor to learn more!).

5.) The most common type of cancer caused by HPV is in the cervix. It can also cause cancer in the throat, neck, vulva, penis, or anus.

6.) There is no treatment that will cure an HPV infection. Most of the time, genital HPV goes away because the immune system clears it. Image

7.) Genital warts caused by HPV often go away without treatment. There are treatments for warts, including medicine or surgery. Talk to your doctor about treatment options if you have questions or concerns.

8.) HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States.

9.) Currently, more than 20 million people are infected with HPV. Each year, more than 6.2 million new infections occur in the U.S.

10.) Most sexually active people have at least one strain of HPV. It’s safe to say that if you have had sex with more than one person OR your partner has had sex with more than one person, you have been exposed to HPV. More than 75% of sexually active people are infected with HPV at some point in their lives; some studies suggest that more than 80 percent of women will have HPV by age 50.

11.) There are more than 100 different strains of HPV; most do not cause cancer. The different strains are divided into high-risk (cancer-causing potential) and low-risk. Two of the high-risk strains (Type 16 and 18) account for 70 percent of all cases of cervical cancer. Two other strains (Type 6 and 11) account for 90 percent of genital warts cases.

12.) More than 99 percent of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV. Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in women worldwide, resulting in 500,000 diagnoses and 240,000 deaths each year. In 2007, an estimated 11,100 cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. and 3,700 women, or 10 per day, will die.

2fe739a94cf29d83a7dfb698840f084a13.) Routine Pap smears can virtually eliminate a woman’s chance of developing invasive cervical cancer. Of women who receive routine Pap smears, 35 percent will have at least one abnormal Pap and 25 percent will have CIN (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia), a precursor to cervical cancer. With treatment, less than one percent of these women will reach the point of developing invasive cervical cancer.

14.) HPV causes 100% of genital warts cases. Genital warts are not cancerous, and consist of soft, white or flesh-colored clusters on the genitals. They can be treated through cryosurgery (which kills the cells by freezing), acid treatment (which kills the cells by burning), or topical cream. Around one million new cases occur each year in the U.S.


15.) The new HPV vaccine Gardasil is now widely available Gardasil is the only HPV vaccine currently available in the United States. It prevents infection by four of the highest-risk strains of HPV, causing 70% of all cervical cancer cases and 90% of all genital warts cases. It is given in three injections over a period of six months and is recommended for women and girls age 9-26, and men and boys aged 11-21. Women who are uninsured or underinsured and between the ages of 19 and 26 are eligible to receive the vaccine for free through the Merck Assistance Program.

16.) Gardasil only prevents future infection; it does not “cure” current infection. Gardasil will not affect any current HPV infection in women. It will only guard against future infection. Women who have been diagnosed with HPV may still receive Gardasil; even if they already have one of the four strains Gardasil prevents, they will still be protected from the remaining three strains.


Now you can Text us your questions!

Now you can Text us your questions about HIV & STIs!

It’s free, fast and honest.

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

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

Oral Sex Part Deuce: Different parts require different arts.

Using your head when giving head:

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:

  • use the “harmonica method”.  By focusing on the shaft of the penis and not the head you’ll avoid any cum or pre-cum.
  • watch out for deep throating (especially vigorously).  It may irritate the lining of your throat making it easier for those pesky STDs to infect you.
  • if you have the head of the penis in your mouth then try not to take any ejaculate/semen into your mouth.
  • partner not so great about telling you when they’re going to cum?  When you think they’re getting close you can try finishing them off with your hand to avoid the unexpected ejaculation.
  • got ejaculate in your mouth?  spit it out quickly instead of swallowing it and it will help reduce your risk.

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).

The art of rimming: 

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

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