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If I have been abstinent, can I have an STD?

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"I have not had any sexual contact since the last time I got tested for STDs. Is it possible that I could have caught an STD in the meantime anyway?"

- Anonymous


This is a great question. The first thing to take into account is that sexually transmitted diseases are very self explanatory--they are transmitted sexually. If you are not participating in sexual acts, then you are not at risk to contract an STD.

That being said, there are a number of STDs that can be transmitted in non-sexual circumstances. Bloodborne diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and syphilis can be spread in ways that do not include sexual activity. People who take part in intravenous drug use have the highest risk of contracting one of these diseases. It is also possible to contract one of these diseases from a needle used in a medical setting if proper precautions are not taken. This is exceedingly rare in the United States. Also, if you receive a blood transfusion that was not screened correctly, it is possible to contract one of these diseases. 

If you feel like you have some symptoms of an STD, even if you have not been sexually active, your best bet is to have yourself tested. You will receive your results in two business days. If the worst happens, and one of your tests comes back positive, you will then be able to speak to your healthcare provider about which course of treatment to pursue.

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