If you think kissing is sweet and innocent, think again. It’s true that if you’re trying to catch one of the big, bad sexually transmitted infections, tongue wrestling isn’t your best plan of action. A few STDs can be passed on when you swap spit, though. Mononucleosis is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a kissing disease, but herpes, the virus that causes cold sores, is the one you should be on the lookout for!
Apparently, a lot of people don’t consider oral sex to be “real” sex because it doesn’t involve nether-region-to-nether-region contact or penetration. However, you classify it, oral sex can transmit diseases quite easily if the penis, vagina, or anus involved are infected. The secretions, sores, and broken skin that are common to genital herpes, most commonly caused by herpes simplex virus 2, are all very likely to spread disease during oral sex. Chlamydia, in rare cases, can infect your throat during to oral sex, and some diseases, like herpes and HPV (human papillomavirus), can’t be prevented by condoms.
You can get hepatitis A (HAV) from food that has been contaminated. If someone who is prepping your meal has hepatitis A and didn’t wash their hands well after using the restroom, you can end up with catching it from your food. Yikes!
Skin to Skin Contact
Skin-to-skin contact may seem harmless, but it’s all herpes or HPV need to become your lifelong viral travel companion. The bare-down-there grooming trend makes transmission even more likely because it is easier to cause breaks in the skin. Your risk of contracting either infection depends on several factors, such as the level of infection and condition of the skin.
Much like the skin-to-skin contact mentioned above, indirect contact is a less likely, but still possible, way to contract an STD without having sex. Trichomoniasis can be spread by hand-to-genital contact or even hitch a ride to your genitals on an unwashed sex toy.
One of the most unexpected places to catch an STD without having sex may be radiating light at your local tanning salon. Molluscum contagiosum, a bumpy genital infection and not a spell from Harry Potter, can be spread by skin-to-skin contact or shared contaminated surfaces like your tanning bed.
Sharing razors– or pretty much anything that cuts or pierces the skin– is a possible way to catch an STD without having sex. In the case of sharp objects, if one of the users is positive for HIV or hepatitis A, B, or C, there is a risk of breaking the skin and mixing blood, leading to the spread of the disease. It is very unlikely for an STD to be spread by sharing a razor, unlike sharing needles, which is a high-risk behavior.
If you get a blood transfusion from blood that has HIV, your chances of contracting HIV as well are extremely high. However, significant improvements have been made to screen blood donors over the last 30 years. For example, nowadays blood banks test every unit of donated blood for HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies so this greatly reduces your chances of contracting HIV through a blood transfusion.