Sexual health, and transmitted diseases, including hepatitis, and a sex chat room.
Over the years we have shared information about sexual health, and the transmission of hepatitis C, and other blood borne pathogens in regards to sex, and considerations that people may want to make in regards to safer sex, and testing. We have shared our thoughts with many via this web site, in emails, and even in chat rooms online.
There is certainly a lot of information available online these days about sexually transmitted diseases, and over the years the state of education about STDs, sometimes referred to as STIs, and other sexual health information has changed time and time again in the various schools around the country, and likely around the world. We have seen curriculum change in some ways to add more information, and in some places that have chosen to limit the amount of info that is taught in certain places. Some schools provide condoms to students, and some likely have rules that forbid condoms from being on the premises.
We tend to believe that the more information shared the better, but that comes with some caveats. Sometimes too much information at one time can be overwhelming, and important issues may not be remembered. In some cases where too little information is shared, we find issues with people believing a few basic principals is all that needs to be known, and some are left without thorough knowledge that could change their lives forever should it be known. With these things in mind, we jump at almost any opportunity to enhance people's knowledge about sexual health, and testing.
Recently we were invited to engage some users in the text chat rooms at sexchatsexchat. At first we thought it may be a joke, so we asked some questions, then reviewed the chat rooms within the site. We found that the web site was not an all out porn site, and that the discussions in the main lobby there were not much different than you would find at a local pub, so we decided to join a group of users there to discuss the topic in which they were debating.
Apparently someone has been coming into the chat rooms system there and posting information about STDs, specifically mentioning hepatitis, and HPV, telling others to be careful about these things, and that the only way to stay safe is to use a condom. As to where we believe this person likely had some good intentions on getting people in a sexualized environment to think about STD, and sexual health, we do not think that the information being shared was accurate. We tried to get this person to listen to more info, and suggested that should they post such information, that it should be more thorough, and reference additional resources such as the mayo clinic, webmd, the CDC or other sources of solid scientific information.
The point we tried to make is that condoms are not the only way to ensure that you are not infected with STIs. Certainly condoms make most sexual acts safer, but I would not go so far as to say the word safe. I believe that condoms should be used with new partners for safer sex, but it is only one layer of security, like having a window to protect your home from the elements, you likely also want a roof, walls, and a door. We still tell anyone we talk to that complete abstinence is the only way to achieve 100% safe sex. The next best thing would be thorough testing before, and weeks later, along with a monogamous relationship.
We also like to emphasis thorough testing. Many clinic's STD tests may not include testing for hepatitis, or even HPV, or HSV / Herpes virus. You need to talk with your health care provider or testing center about the things they do test for, what the percentage of errors there are with those particular tests, and just as importantly what they do NOT test for. You should also discuss with them about any incubation periods that could be in issue, if say your future partner had sex with someone who was infected 24 hours before the test, would they need to return in a few weeks for another test to be sure there was not a new infection that had not yet reached the levels that would show up in standard testing.
Condoms, not 100% Safe, and cheating
In this day and age, monogamy is not the expectation in many regions. Even couples who believe they are in monogamous relationships can find that one of the partner cheats at some time during the relationship. There have been many stories about a partner cheating just once and coming back with herpes, or another incurable STD and transmitting it to the wife or husband. However there have also been cases when a particular STD was already in one partners system, and yet laid dormant, or unnoticed until years later, and a transmission occurred that surprised both partners. We have heard many stories of situations like these with HPV (sometimes known as genital warts), and Herpes / HSV (both oral, and genital, and even issues where oral HSV1 was transmitted to another person's genitals) - and yes this also occurs with hepatitis. Not all people know they have an infection, there are not always symptoms, (even if the pictures you see on wikipedia make you think that you and anyone else in the world would certainly have to know if they have one of these infections), and some diseases can linger in a human body for years before they manifest.
When the use of condoms is brought, as they were in the chat room sessions we engaged in, we suggest that they are a good idea, but stress that condom use does not equal safe sex. Certainly it is safer to use condoms than to not, just like it's better to use a basic free anti-virus program when surfing the internet. However condoms can provide a false sense of security, as they are not 100% effective for preventing STDs (or pregnancy) and are often not used properly.
We believe that condoms are better at protecting against some things than others, but more information should be shared about the things they can not protect against, and how they are supposed to be used properly.
If a partner has herpes, or genital warts that are creating lesions on parts of the body that are not barricaded by the condom, then there is a chance for transmission even if the prophylactic is being used properly. Herpes sometimes create sores around other areas, such as above the pubic bone, which is likely to come into contact with the other partner's skin during intercourse, and condoms do not protect those areas. Blood borne pathogens can also be transmitted in situations such as a partner has recently shaved, or another action has caused an open wound. Oral sex, even with the use of a condom can be risky for similar situations as well. Many people also do not follow the instructions for proper condom use, such as "pulling out" before ejaculation, not putting them on properly, or having the wronf size or other issue than causes them to break.
In short, we do recommend using condoms, and dental dam for oral sex, for safer sex. However we caution that it is not 100% safe, and their proper use should be studied. We strongly suggest that everyone gets thoroughly tested, and educated about STDs before engaging in sex with a partner who's sexual and medical history is not known. We strongly advise against types of sex that are commonly thought to be "safer", such as oral sex, or even finger insertions without testing. Just as surfing the internet with some protection is a good idea, we do not believe than any protection is 100% safe. Even with premium anti-virus and firewall systems, there will still be unknown exploits that make almost any web page or email a potential threat. The best defense is to make sure the sites you surf are trusted, and have been tested by a leading authority. Even then, then only way to be 100% safe is to not surf the internet at all, and do not open any emails, or put flash drives into your system.
So take precautions, be safer if you can't be safe. Do more research, ask more questions, and share the knowledge, not just the love.
This page is not intended to provide end all medical advice. We hope to offer some points to consider, and ask you to discuss these issues with your medical doctors. We also encourage you to research this information, and more about sexual health at trusted scientific web sites such as the mayo clinic, the CDC, and webMD. Also note, that seeing a picture on a web site of an STD, or reading about the symptoms, does not mean that all infected partners will have lesions or other indicators that look like the photos you have seen. Some pictures of herpes and other STDs are examples or really bad infections, and yet some people will have nothing but a little dot that looks like a pimple. Some people will show no signs, and could still be infected, and as we mentioned above, some people can be infected and have no symptoms, or no knowledge of the disease at all. We also encourage your to share information, and engage others in discussions about sexual health, but please refrain from spouting out half truths like the person who we found in the sex chat rooms a few months ago.
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Party Hardy - but keep it safe out there people!