Some diseases have more means of spreading than just penetration as many still believe.
I remember watching the 2000 Olympic games when Greg Louganis had a horrible accident where he hit his head with the diving board. My mom, who’s some sort of sports brainiac brought the theme of the huge controversy around the accident years later when he announced he was HIV positive. Apparently, people were really upset and blamed Louganis for not telling the board or the committee about his condition and putting the other competitors at risk for allowing them to jump into the pool that still had his infected blood. While I agree that he should’ve told the doctor who put stitches on his head, the idea of people getting HIV from that pool, even for my 10-year-old intellect sounded really impossible.
Now, the unbelievable thing is that years later, during a a Sex-Ed high school project in which parents were invited, the Louganis story came out and many of the adults in the room actually believed this was a possibility. This story is one of many examples of how ignorant we can be when it comes to understanding the spreading of these infections. I mean there are plenty of people who believe that other sexual activities like oral sex don’t really count as having sex and thus there isn’t really a risk of contagion. Which takes me to another crucial and important subject, what we understand as sexual. I saw tons of articles that included masturbation, oral sex, and some even anal sex in their non-sexual activities that could get you an STI. So, since I don’t want to fall into that, in my opinion, misleading category, I decided to focus only on those really non-sexual activities through which we can get infected.
Ok, I must make two more clarifications before going through our list. First, some of these are kind of obvious but I decided to include them because perhaps what’s obvious for you isn’t that clear for others. Secondly, there are some that are extremely rare yet if there’s a slight possibility of contagion so I really think that we must be absolutely careful at all times.
This one goes to top of the obvious list of course. We’ve seen this replicated in movies or television, about the drug addict that gets HIV for sharing needles. We have even been scared by people who say getting a tattoo or a piercing can be deadly. I mean not to be on their side but it can happen, with bloodborne diseases (that can be spread through blood and other fluids) like HIV and Hepatitis B and C. This doesn’t mean you shouldn't do any of these activities, nor that they are the ones that actually can get you infected, it’s just that it’s one of the easiest ways of getting any of these diseases without having to have sex at all.
I know you might be thinking this is a scam, but let me expand a little bit. There are other diseases that spread through skin to skin contact with herpes. The thing with kissing is that although it’s very rare if the infected person is experiencing an outbreak you can actually be infected throughout mouth sores. It’s very unlikely for you to get HIV through kissing, but herpes is one of those kinds of silence diseases (most people with it don’t even know they have it) that can be very contagious.
Ok, if you’re reading this it’s obvious that you’re at risk of getting an STI on childbirth, but still, I think this is an important matter that most people don’t really talk about. Some bloodborne diseases like HIV can actually be transmitted to the baby during the pregnancy. However, there are others that can actually be transmitted literally during vaginal childbirth, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, syphilis, and HPV. Again, this happens mainly when their mom is experiencing an outbreak and doctors have to be well aware of the mother condition to decide if a C-section is the best and safest way for the baby to be born. The same applies to breastfeeding. HIV can be transmitted through milk but other STDs are very rare unless the mother has a sore near the nipple.
Sharing a toothbrush
I know this one might sound really stupid as well, and I have to say I was skeptical as you probably are, but actually, after doing some research I realized it’s an extremely rare, but then again a possible way to get determined STDs. So besides the obvious when it comes to contact diseases like herpes, there’s a chance of bloodborne diseases to get spread when the person bleeds from their gums; again it’s very, very rare, but a chance after all.
Technically this isn’t a way of getting an STI because it would mean you already have it. Autoinoculation happens with diseases like chlamydia or herpes when you touch an infected region and spread it to another that’s clear. I decided to mention this one because with some diseases it’s not that you get it and your entire body is now infected. With contact diseases what happens is that you’re literally taking the virus or bacteria to another part of your body and making it infectious as well.
I was unsure whether to include this one because nowadays, most hospitals in the world have very strict measures when it comes to blood donations. However, after thinking about it, I reached the conclusion that it won’t hurt to have a small reminder that this can happen. Especially, when we have tons of ridiculous and stupid challenges out there that some even involve sharing blood in some way or another.
Now, I know you were probably expecting to be surprised to read about normal everyday situations that can put us at risk, but the truth is, as I’ve been saying, that even when these can happen, it’s most likely to get an STI through sexual activities. However, I think it’s important to start clearing things up when it comes to subjects like this and it won’t hurt at all to read about this even when the chances are not that high.
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Images by Briony