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STI Myths

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MYTH #1

You can’t get STIs from oral sex.

Fact

Any exposure to genitalia or bodily fluids puts you at risk for STIs. There are many STIs that can be transmitted through oral sex, including genital herpes, genital warts (HPV), gonorrhea, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, chlamydia, cancroid, syphilis, internal parasite, and rarely, HIV.
To prevent getting an STD from oral sex, you and your partner should always use a condom or dental dam during oral sex to prevent fluids (like semen, blood, vaginal fluids) from entering the mouth.
You and your partner should also get tested and treated for STIs. Although the risk of getting HIV and other STDs from oral sex if your partner is infected is lower than from intercourse (vaginal or anal sex), it is best to use protection.

  • With oral sex on a penis, use a non-lubricated latex or polyurethane (plastic) condom.
  • For oral sex on a vagina or anus, suggest they use a latex barrier (like a natural rubber latex sheet, dental dam or cut-open condom that makes a square) between their mouth and their partner’s genitals.

MYTH #2Engaging in unprotected sex is not worth the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), thinks 88% of MU student respondents.

I’ve had the [HPV] vaccine, so I am protected against all STIs.

Fact

The HPV vaccine only protects against HPV — NOT other STIs.

It also does not protect against all types of HPV, so women will still need regular Pap tests to protect against cervical cancer. So use protection (condoms) each and every time you have sex to protect against the spread of STIs and unplanned pregnancy.


MYTH #3

People will think I’m promiscuous if I get tested, right?

Related myth

If someone gets an STI/HIV, that means they were promiscuous.

Fact

Getting tested reveals that you are taking responsibility for your health by caring about yourselve and your partner.

Getting tested has nothing to do with promiscuity. It only takes one time (of unprotected sex with someone who is infected) to get an STI. You can get STIs, even if you’ve only had one partner, or are in a meaningful relationship. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for STIs.

One in two young people will get an STI by age 25, and most won’t know it.