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Author Topic: I am so confused.
Member # 32631

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Okay, I am very confused. You guys here told me that cold sores were a form of herpes. Herpes Simplex Virus I, to be exact. But last Saturday, my church was hosting this Sex Ed thing (pretty cool, huh?), and the man that was talking to us said that although cold sores could sometimes be the herpes virus, they also sometimes popped up during an actual cold or something, as the body's way of fighing the illness or something.

So, does that mean that cold sores aren't always a result of HSV-1?

And also, the man said that condoms weren't always effective against certain STDs/STIs. For instance, he said that there was a 15% chance that you could contract HIV from having sex with someone who was HIV positive, and it just got higher from there. I don't remember the rest of the percentages, but they were very high and really scary. I'm not a virgin, and even though I've only had sex with one person, and he's only had sex with me, it made me afraid that we weren't being as safe as we could have been and that I put myself at risk. Is there an even safer way of protecting yourself against STDs/STIs other than condoms (and abstinence)?

And my last question: The sex talk we received at church made me really nervous and now I want to get tested for STDs and the like. I have a huuuuge needle phobia though, so I was wondering if I would need my blood drawn, and if there are any alternatives to that. Also, my friend had her blood drawn by a student doctor who could not find the vein and kept jabbing the needle up her arm. She passed out for a few minutes and now she has really big bruises on her arm where she got the blood drawn. I get anxiety attacks when I'm approached with needles, so if that happened to me, I would FREAK OUT. They have to give me valium before getting a filling done, that's how bad I am. So, is there any general way STD screenings are done?

Thanks so much.

Posts: 97 | From: California | Registered: Feb 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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No, it means that man was giving out misinformation. [Frown]

Cold sores are always Herpes, but when they appear, it's often because the body's immune system is already taxed, such as when someone has a cold.

Here's a basic page for you:

Per the HIV information, again, he was being incorrect.

Condoms provide EXCELLENT protection against fluid-borne -- via semen or blood -- diseases like HIV: we do see typical use errors that usually average around 10%, but that's typical use, not perfect. Where they don't do AS good a job, is with infections that are passed via skin or mucous membrane contact, namely with Herpes and HPV.

Here are some basics on condoms and HIV:

(FYI? One really good way to spot a sex educator who isn't on the up-and-up is if, in a general talk about STIs, they are focusing solely or primarily on HIV, especially if they're educating in a first-world nation. Sex educators who are informed, who get it, and who have a vested interest in comprehensive information will be talking about a whole LIST of STIs, especially since HIV isn't actually one of the most common. But it's the best one to scare people with.)

I'm not surprised, from the sounds of things, that this talk made you nervous: it's possible it was supposed to.

But to make clear how you can protect yourself if you're not going to abstain, it's basic safer sex practice, which is threefold: the use of latex barriers, limiting partners, and regular STI screenings for all partners.

Yes, you and yours will need to have blood drawn as part of the testing -- testing involves urine and blood samples, as well as a visual look at your genitals and, for you, a pap smear.

For more on testing, see here: Testing, Testing…

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Also, as far as nervousness with needles/blood-draws goes, I've got a couple of suggestions.

When you go to have blood drawn for any reason, you are welcome to request that only an experienced, extra-gentle person do your draw. So ask for that! You also have the right to refuse someone and ask for somebody if the person doesn't "feel" right to you, ask for another technician. Further, IF for some reason, the person doesn't get the stick right on the first or second try, ask for somebody else. My personal rule is that you get two tries...if you miss twice, I ask for a new technician and if I can't get one, I say I'll go home and come back later when someone qualified arrives.

Also, tell them when you arrive that you're really nervous and have had problems in the past with needles. Tell the person at the desk, tell the person who is going to do the draw. If they know you're nervous, they will be extra careful and extra nice.

Sarah Liz

Posts: 7316 | From: USA | Registered: Oct 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Also, if you have a needle phobia, talking to someone at the blood lab, before even getting a test done (say, when you're booking your test) can help to quell some of your fears. If you're really nervous, they may proscribe EMLA patches, which are patches of topical numbing cream you apply onto your inner arm before getting intravenous blood work done. I was proscribed them before my wisdom tooth surgery because it was one less thing for me to fret about, and they really helped - you can't feel a thing if you're not looking at the needle.

Similarly, when I get my blood tested now, I tell the lab tech that I am squeamish about blood work, and may I please lie down in case I feel faint. Usually the tech is very good at talking to me soothingly while drawing blood, and they tend to send their best when they know someone has tiny veins/is nervous/etc. It's not a walk in the park, but it is possible to have your fear minimised as much as possible.

Unlucky at cards; lucky at love.

Posts: 1679 | From: London, ON | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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