Many people think sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can only be transmitted when someone has unprotected sex with an infected person. However, this common misperception can often lead to more widespread disease, given how it’s possible to get an STD without having intercourse.
Here’s how STDs can be transmitted without having sex and where to find an STD test provider in your area if you think you may be at risk.
Mouth sores are symptoms of herpes and syphilis. You can get these STDs if you kiss an infected person who has one or more open-mouth sores. HIV can also be spread through kissing if you have open sores or cuts in and around your mouth, and kiss someone infected with HIV who also has open wounds in their mouth.
Sharing Razors and Toothbrushes
Herpes, hepatitis, and HIV can spread if you share razors and toothbrushes with an infected person. A razor may contain tiny particles of blood and skin if its owner nicks the skin while shaving, while a toothbrush may also contain traces of blood if the infected person experiences bleeding gums or have gum disease.
Getting a Blood Transfusion
Getting an STD after having a blood transfusion is extremely rare, though entirely possible. Donated blood is usually screened very carefully for infections such as these, though there may be some instances where STDs are not detected or donations are not as carefully screened as they should be.
Eating Contaminated Foods
It’s possible for the foods that you eat at restaurants or that have been prepared by someone else to be contaminated with HIV. This can happen when the infected person preparing your food has an accidental cut and bleeds into your food or if you share a sandwich with an infected person who took a bite and is bleeding inside the mouth.
Hepatitis and HIV can spread when you share a needle with an infected person. This usually only happens among people who use injection drugs such as heroin or methamphetamine. Many cities around the United States have opened centers called harm reduction sites, where injection drug users are provided with sterile needles and supplies so they can use illicit drugs more safely without spreading STDs.
Sharing Sex Toys
Herpes and hepatitis can be spread by sharing sex toys—especially anal sex toys—with an infected person. Washing and disinfecting sex toys after each use can often reduce the risk of spreading an STD in this manner.
Sharing Towels and Bedding
Trichomoniasis, or “trich,” is an STD caused by a parasite. This parasite can transfer to and live on fibers in damp towels and bedding that an infected person has used. Your risk for getting trich increases if you share these personal items with someone who has this STD.
Where To Find a Nearby STD Test Provider
STD test providers are located in nearly every city across the United States, so you can easily find and receive STD screening. Visit the STD testing Orlando page or the STD Labs directory courtesy of the CDC to find a testing provider near you. All STD testing conducted by STD Labs is 100 percent confidential, and results are usually available on the same day.