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 Prevention (66)

Hi, I have a concern regarding getting HIV. I had unprotected oral sex about a week back with a sex worker, who has been in this profession for a few years and is well-reviewed. I am freaking out now about getting HIV. Can you please advise what are the chances of getting HIV after receiving unprotected oral sex and when should I get tested (3 weeks i guess)? I did not have any sores on my genitals, and apparently she did not have any ulcers, wounds etc in her mouth, but of course, I am not sure about that. She did mention though that she does not have HIV but I am not sure whether to rely on her or not. We did not have any other form of sexual activity. Thank you.

Hi, and thank you for your question

The chance of getting HIV from oral sex is extremely low as indicated in our Know Your Chances charts and on our HIV and AIDS information page. If you are sexually active, we recommend getting tested routinely (every 6-12 months) for all sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea. The best time to test for HIV is 6-12 weeks after an encounter as it can take up to this amount of time for antibodies to be detectable if a person has acquired the virus.

I would add that simply because someone does sex work, this does not mean that they have HIV. In fact you have indicated that this person told you that they do not have HIV and that they are “well-reviewed” on their profile. Whether you engage in sexual contact with someone who does sex work, or with someone you met online or at any other venue, it is important to consider precautions you may want to take against infections. As already noted, oral sex is generally pretty low risk for HIV but other infections such as HSV, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea can be more easily passed this way. Regardless of the partner, condoms are a good way to prevent or to decrease the chance of passing these infections.

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

Can I get hiv while rubbing my genital with someone else while wearing thin clothing? The other person was also wearing underwear.

Hello, and thank you for your question.

HIV is transmitted through blood and body fluids, and cannot be passed through casual contact, skin to skin contact, or through clothing.

For more information on a variety of sexually transmitted infections please visit STIs at a Glance or for info about transmission risk check out Know your Chances.

Please let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

I’m finishing my 7 day since I got a shot from a Doctor and 4 pills I had the next day that were prescribed. Can I have sex today?

Hi, thanks for your question

Yes, you can have sex today! BUT if the person that you’re going to have sex with was a partner from before you got treatment, make sure they took the treatment and waited for 7 days before sex as well!

If you have sex with an ongoing partner that has not been treated for the infection, you will likely get it back again.

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

I had protected sex with a prostitute 3 weeks ago . The condom seemed to be fine at the time . I am naturally a stressed person . So my question is when the condom fail does it fail drastically ? Or it can fail without me knowing ?


When a condom fails it usually does it in a way that would make you notice the failure. Condoms are made out of thin latex so when that latex is stressed during penetration and the thrusting of sex, the condom tends to rip if it fails, which is easy to notice.

Using a condom offers great protection and if you used a condom the entire time and it looked fine coming off I would not be concerned.

We generally recommend people get tested every 3-6 months if they are concerned an STI could have been passed during that period. Condoms offer great protection against STI like HIV, gonorrhea and chlamydia that are in the sexual fluids but because they don’t cover all the skin on the genitals, we still recommend getting a test every so often as STI like syphilis can pass if contact is made with an area not covered by the condom.

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

Health Nurse

I am from INDIA.I had unprotected gay oral sex many times and I had anal sex one time without condom. I had severe joint paints for 10 days and 10 to 15 rashes some of itchy some rashes are not itchy. I went to blood test I don’t know the last exposure day please help me. 1.hiv-ab-serum 2.hbsag-serum 3.anti-hcv-serum 4.tpha test for syphilis serum (immuno chromatographic) this all the test are negative. I went for hiv1 and hiv2 antibodies western blot serum test. Hiv1 and hiv 2 antibodies screening test 0.06 index


You are doing the correct action by going for a test. A STI/HIV test will let you know if something was passed to you. The symptoms you have described can be caused by many different medical conditions so would not be a reliable way to know if you have an STI or not. For the best care it would be good to mention the symptoms you are having to the person that did your testing.

Given the type of sex you described I would recommend getting a full STI test which would include:

(1) Gonorrhea and chlamydia testing from the throat, rectum and urine. Wait at least 2 weeks after sex before doing these tests for the best accuracy.

(2) HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C blood test. We find that most of these infections would show up by 6 weeks after they passed to someone, but we still recommend doing a final test at 3 months just to make sure.   

It’s great that your blood tests came back negative, but the main factor is how long after the sex did you do the test? Even just a rough idea would be enough information; you don’t need to be exact to the day. If it has been at least 6 weeks from the time when you had sex until your blood test that is a great result and means there is a high chance you are fine, but we still recommend a final test at 3 months to make sure.     

As most STI/HIV do not show symptoms we recommend that people go for regular testing every 3-6 months if there is a chance something could have passed to you.

Condoms offer great protection against HIV and other STI.  I am unsure of the situation in India but in Canada we are also finding that PREP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is becoming very popular in terms of a tool that can stop HIV passing to you.

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

Health Nurse

Can I use flavoured condom for vaginal sex?

Hi, and thanks for your question

The simple answer is yes, you can! As with any condom use it’s recommended to check the packing for the expiration date, to ensure it’s not damaged and to make sure it provides protection against sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.

Check out our Flavoured Condoms page on Smart Sex Resource for more details.

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

Does condom work? Have you seen any case of HIV with an intact condom?

Hi, and thanks for your question

Condoms, when used properly, are a very effective barrier against HIV transmission. They are also excellent at preventing other sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis as well as preventing pregnancy.

For maximum efficacy it’s important that condoms be used correctly. A new condom should be used every time you have intercourse, as well as with each new partner, and when switching from anal to oral or vaginal penetration. The condom should be put on before the penis/external genitals touch the partner’s genitals or anus.

I don’t have any data on whether there has ever been a case of HIV with an intact condom, but what I can say is that condoms are very effective at preventing HIV.

Have a look at our Condoms page for more information and tips. You might also find our Know Your Chances charts helpful when considering risk of various types of STIs including HIV.

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

How long will I have genital warts (HPV)?

Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

There are over 100 types of HPV. About 40 of them can affect the anus/rectum, genitals and less commonly, the mouth and throat. HPV is sexually transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. This includes sexual contact such as, genitals rubbing together, penetrative sex (vaginal/internal genital or anal/rectal intercourse), oral sex, sharing sex toys, and hands on genitals. HPV may still be present even if there are no visible warts or when the warts are gone. Wearing condoms can help to reduce, but not eliminate the chances of passing HPV from one partner to another.

For the majority of people, the virus will clear the body on its own without causing symptoms/warts or problems. 

For those who do get symptoms (genital warts), most of these will eventually go away with or without having them treated, often within 18-24 months. Once your genital warts are gone, this does not mean the HPV infection is gone or cured. Genital warts can come back and you can get HPV again from a partner who has it.

There are now vaccines that protect against the more common HPV types. The vaccine will not help you get rid of HPV if you already have it, but it can prevent future infections. To learn more about the HPV and other vaccines, click here.


My husband and I have Genital Herpes. I had a C section due to this. We were recently away on vacation with our 8 month old. There was only a stand up shower in our hotel so my husband showered with my 8 month old. In the shower there was a sitting area. My husband sat down on it and then briefly rested my baby on his lap to wash him. He only did this for about 5-10 seconds because I saw and reminded him not to. He doesn’t have any open sores or symptoms of an outbreak and has had the virus for 9 years but I am worried sick about viral shedding. I don’t know what I would do if my baby has become infected from showering him. I’ve read mixed things such as the way you shed the virus when there is no outbreaks is through mucus membranes and Genital secretions. If this were the case he definitely did not come into contact with that but he was resting on his lap so his pubic hair area could have touched my son. Is he at risk? It’s been 6 days so far and no symptoms. Thanks you so much.

 Based on what you have shared with me it sounds like there are no significant exposures to indicate an HSV infection. Herpes is passed by skin-to-skin contact between one person who has the virus and another who does not. This contact needs to be directly with the part of the body where aperson has the virus. For example, if someone has oral herpes, their mouth is the area of the body that has the virus, not their genitals. The type of contact that usually transmits herpes involves skin rubbing on skin, like kissing or sexual activity. It also is possible for herpes to be passed if one person touchesthe part of their body that has herpes (like their genitals) and then immediately touches another person’s mouth or genitals. Sharing sex toys between one person and another without changing condoms or washing toyscan also pass the virus.

The chance of passing herpes is highest when there is an active outbreak (when sores or blisters are visible, or prodrome symptoms are present). There is no risk of passing herpes throughgeneral household activities. You can’t get herpes from a toilet seat or furniture, or fromsharing a bed or hugging someone with herpes.The herpes virus is fragile and doesn’t live more than a few minutes on most surfaces. The virus is easily killed by soap and water. Unless an item, like a spoon or a towel, is going directly from one person’s mouth or genitals to another person, there is no need to worryabout sharing household items.

Although there is no major risk exposure in the case that you’ve mentioned to me, these are the key clinical indicators of an active herpes outbreak/infection

• One or more sores that look like
water blisters, cuts, or broken skin
• The skin can feel itchy, tingling, burning, raw, or painful
• Fever, headache, or muscle aches
• Feel tired and not well

• Pain in your legs or buttocks
• The lymph nodes in the groin can be swollen and tender
• Painful urination (peeing)
• A change in vaginal discharge
• Swollen genitals


Does this answer your question? Please let us know.

I understand that if you have a wart (HPV virus) the wart will go away in months to up to 2 years without treatment. Does that mean that your body has cleared itself from the virus…so cured?…and if so, can you get the same type/strain again? or do you become immune to it? If you’re not ‘cured’ but the wart just goes away, does that mean you’re always going to be infectious?

Your immune system is responsible for clearing out the HPV virus within our bodies, but when and how it is cleared depends on the strain and your immune system. Some people may not have completeresolution of an HPV type. It could be that the type is dormant or “sleeping” in their body, but reawakens at some point. This sometimes happens when the body is under more stress that affects the immune system, such as periods of extreme stress or certain medications like chemotherapy.

It’s also possible that a person may resolve the type completely, but then get it again at a future date. It’s also very possible that someone could be infected with a different
HPV type if they are exposed to it. Having one type of HPV does not mean you won’t get other types of HPV if exposed to them. Regardless of the reason, some people can
have recurrent HPV.

Although our immune system does its best to protect us from HPV exposures, there is still a possibility of transmission if HPV is present. HPV passed through skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. This includes any kind of sexual contact with the anal and genital regions, including genitals rubbing together, penetrative sex (vaginal or anal intercourse), oral sex, sharing sex toys, and hands on genitals. HPV may still be present even if there are no visible warts or when the warts are gone. Since HPV is so common that most people acquire it sooner or later, it is not realistic to avoid it. There is no need to stop having sex even if warts or other signs of HPV are present, or are being treated.

Condoms and other barrier methods can reduce the possibility of HPV transmission, although they do not provide full protection as HPV can be passed through other skin-to-skin contact. Condoms also protect against other STIs, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV. Using condoms is a good way to reduce the risk of getting STIs. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect ourself against HPV. A decade of using the HPV vaccine in British Columbia has shown that it is both safe and effective. For more information about the HPV vaccine visitwww.immunizebc.ca/hpv

Does this answer your question? Please let us know