Sexually Transmitted Infections - Frequently Asked Questions

I have been in a relationship with the same person for five years and my partner just had an outbreak of genital warts. I have never had any warts. Is my partner cheating on me?

  • A virus called Human Papillomavirus (HPV) causes genital warts. They look like common skin warts, but they appear on the genital area (vagina, cervix, and penis) and around the anus.
  • You get the virus by having direct contact, usually sexual, with a person who has them.
  • The warts usually appear two weeks to eight months after contact, but this is not always the case.
  • A diagnosis of HPV means only that the infection was contracted at some point in your partner's life.
  • The virus can actually remain in the body for weeks, years, or even a lifetime, giving no sign of its presence. Therefore, your partner may have likely gotten the virus from a previous partner prior to your relationship even starting together.
  • Warts can usually be removed with ointment (ordered by a doctor) or laser treatment.
  • The virus can be spread at all times; it isn't just contagious when the warts are present. Therefore someone who has HPV should practise safer sex at all times to prevent the spread of the virus to others.

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What is herpes and how do I get it?

  • Herpes is a viral infection.
  • It causes sores or small cracks/cuts in the genital area.
  • It can also cause cold sores (fever blisters) around the mouth.
  • An infected person stays infected for life.
  • He or she may have repeated episodes of genital herpes.
  • The herpes virus is passed by having direct skin-to-skin contact with the infected area.
  • Cold sores found around the mouth can pass the herpes virus to the genital area.
  • Sores in the genital area that are touched can be then passed to any part of the body that is touched. Therefore regular hand washing when sores are present is advised.
  • When sores are present, all sexual contact (oral, vaginal, etc.) should be either completely avoided or sexually transmitted infection protection should be used.
  • Safer sex with someone who has herpes is recommended at all times because herpes can be contagious even when sores are not present.

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