A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control



Answered Questions

In the years since SmartSexResource launched, we have developed a library of questions asked by you, and answered by our expert sexual health nurses.

Our answered questions library cover a broad range of sexual health topics and common questions we hear at our clinics.

STI Information (58)

I just want a test for hep c. I have not been offered one by the question-are no matter how I answer. I don’t see an add on option. Why? Thanks

Hi, I am not sure why you have not been able to get a Hepatitis C test. Hepatitis C is carried in blood and the highest risk of  transmission is through blood to blood transfer so through an organ donation that hasnt been screened, blood transfusion that wasn’t screened, sharing needles to do injection drug use or sharing bills or straws to do lines of cocaine, burning mouth on shared glass pipes for smoking crack etc. To read more about other risks for Hepatitis C, the testing and the treatment, please  see the Canadian LIver Foundation site information at www.liver.ca/patients-caregivers/liver-diseases/hepatitis-c/

There has been some public health campaigning for more hepatitis C testing as many now later in life would have no idea that they had this.  So as of this week, there is another option for screening. There is now a Hepatitis C test that has just become available through some pharmacies of London Drugs stores. It is a fingerprick test and if positive you would be referred for further testing and discussion of treatment. The test cost is approximately $24 and you do need to book an appointment. https://blog.londondrugs.com/london-drugs-launches-potentially-life-saving-hepatitis-c-screening-at-pharmacies

Recently I have protected received oral sex, I think oral sex for the receiver, not an HIV risk encounter. However, I did touch her vagina ((not got inside) while she was giving me oral, she had underwear on, so I haven’t touched directly but it was about 30 seconds. I haven’t felt wet when I touched her vagina but touched my penis(foreskin) at the end of the oral without cleaning. I am really tensed and not able get rid of this. Do you think this is a risk for HIV? How long HIV survives in the air?


Thanks for writing.

There is no risk of HIV transmission from the encounter you described.

Even if there was some vaginal fluids on your hand when you touched your penis, that is not a risk for HIV. HIV is passed when another person’s sexual fluids enter inside your body, not when are fluids on the outside of the body (like on the skin or foreskin).

As you mentioned, protected oral sex is not a risk for HIV either.

HIV dies very quickly when exposed to air, usually within seconds.

Lots of people feel anxious about HIV. It’s very normal for people have complicated emotions after having new sexual partners, or experiences. Some people expect there will be consequences after having sex, but that is usually not the case. For more ideas about managing these kinds of emotions check out our Worry & Anxiety page.

Please feel free to comment below or submit another question if needed.

Health Nurse

Hello, I have been with my boyfriend 3 yrs and I haven’t been with anyone else. I have recently (3 weeks) had an outbreak and been diagnosed with HSV 1. I have never had any symptoms before? I have noticed in the past on him a small mark on his penis that I thought was a freckle. He also had a rash that he said was caused by the zipper of his shorts, while on vacation. I would like to know if he could have had this all along and not know it? Also, with this being my first out break did I just get this from him? It would have been about 1 month from time of rash to my outbreak? I would like to know since we have been together for three years if he was cheating or it was just dormant? Could I have had this and not know about it all along? Or does a person always have an initial outbreak at time of contraction?


It sounds like you have had a genital HSV-1 outbreak, let me know if I got this wrong.

HSV-1 is really common; in Canada we find most adults have it. Most people who have HSV are also unaware that it is there because they have not had symptoms. The easiest time to pass HSV to another person is when someone is having an outbreak, but HSV can still be passed when a person is not having an outbreak since the virus will shed from time to time. This means it’s possible for someone to have HSV and pass it to someone else without them ever knowing they had it.

It’s possible your boyfriend could have had this on his genitals and not known about it, or not recognised the symptoms as they did not happen often or were mild. It’s also possible you could have HSV from a previous partner and are only getting your first outbreak now. It’s difficult to know if that “rash” was an outbreak or if it was just a wound from a zipper. The only way to tell would be if a test was done on the wound on the penis.

As HSV-1 has evolved to be around the mouth area, we find that when HSV-1 is on the genitals it does not outbreak or shed as much when compared to HSV-1 on the mouth or HSV-2 on the genitals. Given this we think the majority of HSV-1 is passed to someone’s genitals when they receive oral sex from a partner who has HSV-1 (cold sores) around the mouth.    

As you can see there are a few different possibilities. I think the most likely situation is that your boyfriend is unaware of HSV-1 being around the mouth and passed it to you with oral sex. To explore your situation further I would ask your boyfriend to have any suspicious wound on their penis checked by a health professional if you think it could be HSV. There are also blood tests for HSV which may give you some additional information. HSV can take up to 3-4 months to show up in a blood test. As it has only been 3 weeks there is a chance your blood test could still be negative if this was just passed to you. A positive swab test and negative blood test means this just happened. If your boyfriend gets no HSV symptoms they could always do a blood test as well if they were wondering.

It can be difficult to know for sure how HSV was passed to you since HSV is so common, most people do not have symptoms and you can get your first outbreak at a later date. 

Also have a look at our HSV page for additional information.

Let us know if we did not answer your question or if you have any further questions or concerns.

Health Nurse

If you have been with your partner and no one else for 3 years both of you faithful and never had an outbreak yourself, and you test positive to HSV1, could your partner have given it to you never knowing they had it until now? Or is it possible for a guy to get it and not know they had it and it be dormant in their current relationship and spontaneously give to their partner?


Yes this situation is possible, HSV-1 is really common and most people have no symptoms, people can have HSV passed to them by partners who never knew they had it.

I am not sure if I fully understand the second part of your question so let me know if I answer it wrong. Most people who get HSV do not know it has been passed to them, if someone does get symptoms they will get outbreaks from time to time. Someone can pass HSV easily when they have an outbreak as there is lots of virus in the sore. 

It’s possible for HSV to still pass when someone is not having an outbreak as the virus will shed from time to time. This happens because every now and then the virus will travel up the nerve to the skin (dry or wet skin), it may only be shedding for a short period of time. As the person will get no symptoms during this time they do not know it is happening.

Given the above it’s possible to be with a person who has HSV and does not know it for years and never have it pass to you. It can certainly happen out of nowhere, when you have been together for several years and you just happen to have sex when your partner is shedding HSV. Maybe your skin is a bit fragile from something like a razor burn or maybe sex went on for a bit of time so the skin has small micro tears and the HSV is there from the shedding and is able to get into your body.

Let us know if this did not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.

Health Nurse

Hi I just got diagnosed with Herpes and I’ve been with the same partner for 2 years. Even if I hadn’t had a monogamous relationship and had random partners, I can’t understand why you would say this on your website “However, depending on your situation, you may not want or you may not feel safe to tell your partner – in this case, you should make the decision that is best for you.” What?? What about the decision that is best for the person you are sleeping with??? I can’t imagine you saying the same thing if someone had gonorrhea or syphilis or AIDS. Wouldn’t you suggest to be honest so to not jeopardize someone else’s sexual health? Please explain.Yes, I know it’s not a life-threatening illness and that many people don’t even know they have it, but nonetheless, if you know you have it you should tell the person you are about to sleep with.Thank you for clarifying,


Talking about herpes or any STI can be difficult. We aim to provide general information that covers the different situations that people may find themselves in.

The sentence you list comes from the talking to partners section of the Herpes: A Patient Guide booklet. We find having open discussions about sexual health are best but we also feel that we also need to acknowledge that in certain situations this may not be possible. The talking to partners section gives general information about how best to disclose about herpes, but we also want to acknowledge that this may not be possible all the time.

Just because someone is unable to tell their sexual partners about an STI they have had or have does not mean that they have not taken precautions in regard to transmission. We also find that most people we speak to feel it is important to them to disclose STI information to their partners.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any other questions or concerns.


Hello thereHsv1 oral , if no lesions occur 1 month pass , i had only close mouth kiss 5 sec ,as your site mentioned for both hsv1 and hsv2 incubation period 5 to 21 days ?And , hsv1 is it deadly ? What about encephalitis I read its danger in new borns or with immune system problem as caused by hiv


Thanks for your question.

Brief, closed-mouth kissing like you described is low risk, but it is possible for HSV (herpes) to be passed even with brief contact.

You’re correct that when a person is exposed to HSV we would expect to see symptoms develop by 21 days. If you have not seen any lesions appear by 21 days, you can assume you did not come in contact with HSV from that specific encounter.

HSV is usually not dangerous, and it is rare to have any complications with HSV-1 or 2. Encephalitis from HSV is very rare. There can be some danger to new born babies if the mother has open lesions on their genitals while giving birth. There is anti-viral medication that pregnant people can use to prevent lesions during childbirth. For people living with HIV, we rarely see complications with HSV. If you are living with HIV and have questions about HSV please feel free to submit another question for more information.

Hope this helps.

Health Nurse

7 weeks ago i performed unprotected oral sex (vaginal and rimming) and during vaginal fingering she began bleeding and i got some on my face and in my mouth. She was very surprised by this because it had never occurred prior and she was between periods. She later informed me she had HPV 8 months earlier but it went away on its own. I’ve been tested and found negative for all testable STI’s but I’m concerned about oral HPV. I’ve had a sore throat on and off ever since the incident with some green mucous, tingling at my nostrils and some green mucous with some blood from my nose and numbness on my lips. I tend to worry a lot. What are your thoughts. Thanks


Thanks for writing.

The symptoms you are describing are not related to HPV.

HPV is often asymptomatic, meaning there can be so symptoms at all. Sometimes HPV can create warts (or bumps) on the genitals. Warts from HPV are painless, skin-colored bumps that usually go away on their own.

HPV does not cause sore throats, green mucous, nose bleeds, or lip numbness. However, if those symptoms persist we would recommend going to see a healthcare provider in person.

HPV can be passed through oral sex, but it is not passed through blood. Seeing blood come from your partner does not increase your chance of getting HPV.

HPV is passed through direct skin-to-skin contact. HPV can be passed to the mouth and throat during oral sex, but we do not see people getting warts in the throat or mouth.

It’s unusual for your partner to know that she had HPV 8. There is no routine testing for HPV, and people are not expected to know their ‘HPV status’ the same way they know their ‘HIV status’. The fact that your partner had cleared the HPV means it’s unlikely that you would have gotten it from her at that time.

We know that lots of people get HPV. In fact, we estimate that over 75% of people carry HPV at some point in their lives. That’s most people! If you ever see a bump on the genitals we can identify it, but if you’ve never had symptoms it’s very hard to say if you’ve ever been exposed.

There are many types of HPV, but they fall into two categories: One kind causes benign (or harmless) warts on the genitals. The other kind has been linked to some cancers, but this kind is always invisible (and doesn’t create warts). So, if you ever get genital warts you know they are a cosmetic concern, but not dangerous. Women/people with cervixes get routine PAP testing for the other kind of HPV.

Overall, your current symptoms are not related to HPV. We would not assume you had HPV unless you have had warts identified by a doctor/nurse. It’s possible that you carry HPV without symptoms, but there is nothing you need to do about that.

Hope this helps.

Please feel free to leave a comment below or submit another question.

Health Nurse

I am confused with some things I’ve read on this site and others, A person is contagious even if no warts are present, then after 2 years without a wart it is concitered dormant or a “resolved” infection, what does this mean? Is a person still just as infectious? Will it come back? Or is it more like chicken pox, once your body fights/ beats it it is no longer a threat? I’m talking about the non cancerous types. And if so or not how do we know?


Thanks for writing.

Genital warts and HPV can be confusing for a lot of people. The confusion is partly due to the fact that scientists and researchers are still learning about genital warts, and we don’t know everything yet.

One thing we’re learning about genital warts is that some people get ‘transient’ genital warts, while others can get ‘recurrent’ genital warts. When someone has a transient wart that means they will have a visible wart on their skin, but once the wart is gone then the virus is gone. Others who have recurrent warts will have a visible wart on their skin, and once the wart is gone they can still pass on the virus.

We can’t tell who has transient versus recurrent warts. The same types of warts may be transient for some people and recurrent for others. The only way a person can know if they have recurrent warts is by having recurrent outbreaks of warts.

However, most genital warts are transient and HPV is mostly passed when there is a wart present. It’s much less likely for HPV and warts to be passed if there is no visible wart, we just can’t say it’s impossible.

We generally say that after 2 years without any warts that someone has “resolved” their genital wart infection. This means that they likely had a transient infection because they have not had any recurrent warts in a 2 year period. Someone with resolved genital warts is not infectious and will not have future outbreaks (unless they get re-exposed to the virus at another time).

It’s not quite like chicken pox immunity… Transient warts are superficial, and they do not involve the immune system. If you have a transient wart that goes away, then you won’t have any protection against that type of wart (and you can get it again). However, recurrent warts do get the immune system involved, and if you have a recurrent wart then you will be protected against getting that type again. There is a vaccine which protects against genitals warts.

So, yes, it can be difficult to tell who has HPV and who might be infectious. But the most important thing to remember is that genital warts are not cancerous, and not dangerous in any way. The types of HPV associated with cancer are invisible and do not make warts.

Also, we estimate more than 75% of Canadians will have genital warts at some point in their life. That’s most Canadians! Warts are spread through direct skin-to-skin contact, which can happen even when people are using condoms (because there are still parts of the body that can touch). That’s one of the reasons it’s so common.

Lastly, there is no routine testing for HPV, and people are not expected to know their HPV status the same way they know their HIV status. There are also no legal requirements to tell others if you have HPV. Talking to partners about HPV is based a person’s comfort, and their relationship with their partner(s).

Hope this helps. Please feel free to comment below or submit another question if needed.

Health Nurse

Hello,My test result came back Negative both at 10 weeks and 20 weeks mark after a possible exposure for HIV at the youth clinic and LifeLab in British Columbia. Is my test result conclusive (100% like the Window Period checker shows) and is there a need for going back for another testing?Thank you


Thanks for your question.

You are definitely HIV negative.

The window period for HIV is up to 90 days (or 12 weeks). We can say your result from 20 weeks is definitely conclusive, and we would not recommend any further testing based on that exposure.

Please let us know if you need any additional information.

Health Nurse

If I get cold sore HSV 1 does this mean that my children will carry the HSV 1 virus when they are born?


Thanks for your question.

The short answer is: No.

Cold sores are not inherited, but passed through direct skin-to-skin contact.

Having a cold sore does not mean you have genital herpes. Genital herpes can be passed to children if the mother has a genital outbreak during childbirth.

Cold sores can be passed to your child if someone with an active cold sore kisses (or has mouth-to-skin) contact with your child.

Herpes in childhood is very common, and not a serious condition.

For more information about HSV and cold sores check out our Herpes – Patient Guide.

Health Nurse