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)

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

Hii i m 18..i had an unprotected oral sex with my bf for the first time n the last time just bcoz it was his fantasy or somethng n was not knowing abt its demerits or side effects …so my question is can anything happen to both of us bcoz of this stupid oral sex that we had it 4 days ago ????


Oral sex is generally low risk, with few side effects.

We do see some STIs passed with oral sex, including: HPV, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

Has your boyfriend received oral sex from anyone else before? Has he had penetrative sex with anyone else before?

  • If not, then he can’t have any STIs to pass to you.
  • If yes, then it’s possible for your partner to have an STI that is passed to you through oral sex.

Talk with your boyfriend. If he has had other partners in the past, it might be good to go for an STI test.

Also, listen to your own feelings and thoughts when engaging in sex. If you don’t feel comfortable doing something, you can always say “no” or “not now”.

Hope this help. Please feel free to submit another question if needed.

Health Nurse

My boyfriend who I’ve been dating for 5 months gave me genital HSV 1. I’m now scared to let him preform oral sex on me again because I worry it will cause an outbreak. Is it safe for him to preform oral sex on me if we both don’t or haven’t had any outbreaks in awhile? Will it cause one? Thanks


Thanks for writing. HSV can be confusing for lots of people, and it can feel scary too!

If you both have HSV-1, then you cannot pass it to each other.

Once a person has been exposed to HSV-1, their body will create “antibodies” for HSV-1, which will protect that person from getting it again.

So, since you’ve been exposed to HSV-1, he cannot give it to you again. And having more oral sex won’t increase the chance of having another outbreak.

Regarding outbreaks: It’s normal that we see outbreaks after the first time someone is exposed. After that, most people don’t get ongoing outbreaks. If someone does get an outbreak, it has to do with their own immune system and health ( and not becuase they were re-exposed to HSV). When people are healthy their body can keep the virus suppressed (meaning no outbreak), but when someone gets sick they can have outbreaks. 

If both of you have the same stain (HSV-1) you cannot give it to each other again.

You can only give someone HSV-1 if they have never had it. Having oral sex won’t trigger another outbreak.

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

Health Nurse

I am from India. I did fingering in Vagina to the massage sex worker for 1 min and 1 inch of my finger went inside. When I was fingering her vagina she was wearing her inners. So I am not sure how long my finger went inside. She told me it went little bit only. When I am fingering her side by side she gave me hand job. This was happed in the entire scenario. No sex either Vaginal or Oral or Anal. There is No Visible cut or sore or scratches in my finger. At the same time she is not too wet. (On the sane day I cut my nails with my fingers at 11am. I went to Massage sex worker place at 7:30pm. My fingers were bit bulge due to cutting nails. As for as me there is no cuts)My doubts: 1. Fingering posses risk for HIV considering above situation ? 2. Do I need to test for this scenario ? 3. If you say so fingering is low risk or no risk does fingering a Hiv positive person daily is considered to be safe ? 4. Does in the above there is risk for HepB ? 5. One last question, Why skin in penis is more susceptible to hiv whe compared with skin in finger? 6. Every time I am going to Sensual massage centres I am always in fear of Hiv. To avoid HIV what should I do apart from Unprotected sex ? Also can you explain about Getial to Genital rubbing.I think I have asked too many questions. Thank you so much. You are doing a great Job. Cheers.


The scenario you describe with fingering the vagina is not a risk for HIV. There is not risk of contracting HIV from fingering, and fingering an HIV-positive person daily does not increase the risk. There is no risk.

We would not recommend testing for HIV based on that scenario.

In order for HIV to be transmitted you must have blood or sexual fluids enter inside the body. In the case of fingering, that would be a cut or sore on your fingers (which you said you didn’t have). Cutting nails earlier in the day is not a risk for HIV.

Regarding your question about skin on penis being more susceptible to HIV… The risk of HIV does not have to do with the skin, but with the opening in the skin. On the penis, the urethra (or pee hole) creates an opening in the body. If blood or sexual fluids enter through the urethra that can be a risk for HIV. On the fingers there is no openings.

Fingering a vagina is not a risk for Hep B. In order for Hep B to be transmitted there must be blood or sexual fluids which enter the body. If you don’t have any cuts or sores on the fingers there is no risk for Hep B.

Regarding visiting massage parlours and avoiding HIV: The safest way to avoid HIV is to wear condoms during any penetrative sex (ie. penis in vagina or penis in anus). Giving and receiving oral is very low risk for HIV, and does not require protection to avoid HIV.

Massage and touching, hand job, fingering, and genital-to-genital rubbing are not risks for HIV. We do not see HIV transmitted through those activities. However, there are other STIs which can be passed that way: Herpes, HPV, Syphilis.

HIV is passed through blood and sexual fluids. Other STIs (herpes, HPV, Syphilis) can be passed through genital-to-genital rubbing (without blood or sexual fluids present).

Hope this helps.

Health Nurse

So my boyfriend has HSV 1 orally and I have genital HSV 1 and I was wondering if we had unprotected sex if it could trigger an outbreak? Or if because he has HSV 1 orally he could not preform oral sex on me any more. My last question is, is there anything we could do to eachother that would accudentally trigger an outbreak that we should look out for?


Thanks for writing.

If you both have HSV-1, then you cannot pass it to each other.

Once a person has been exposed to HSV-1, their body will create “antibodies” for HSV-1, which will protect that person from getting it again.

So, since you are your partner both have the same strain, you are protected from getting it/giving it.

In short: you will not trigger an outbreak, and there is no reason to think you can pass HSV-1 between each other. He can give you oral without worrying about passing HSV-1 to you, or getting HSV-1 from you! We wouldn’t recommend worrying about this or having to “look out for” anything!

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

Health Nurse

my boyfriend might have Hep C what does this mean for him, me and us?Do I need to take percussions?Is it true that he could of had this many year ago but it could of been dormant?


Its very common for people to have hepatitis C for many years without knowing. Most of the time Hep C will show no symptoms when it is passed to someone and may do damage to the liver slowly so that people can feel fine for decades.

A blood test is needed to see if someone has hep c. Currently they have treatments available that have a high chance of curing hep c. Its important for the person with hep c to see a doctor and to get a referral to a liver specialist. The doctor will do blood tests and other tests on a routine basis to see how healthy the liver is and will also be able to discuss treatment options.

Hep C is usually passed via blood, it is a strong virus and can live outside the body for several days. The most common way it can pass to someone is if people share drug equipment that could have blood on it, sharp items that may have blood on them like reused tattoo or medical needles etc… You should also be careful not to share any personal care items that may have blood on them like nail clippers, toothbrushes and razors.

Hep C is not passed by activities like hugging, kissing, sharing communal space, sharing a cigarette or drink. Sharing food. To get hep C you need to get the person’s blood into your body.

In regard to precautions in regard to sex it really depends on your situation. They have found that Hep C transmission by sex in monogamous heterosexual couples that are HIV negative is a rare event. They have also found that this small risk does not seem to be related to any specific sexual practice. If someone is unsure and or find that being worried about hep c effects how they feel about having sex with a partner, condoms can be an option in these situations.

I am unsure of your situation, but there is evidence from studies of men who have sex with men that people who have HIV can shed Hep C in their semen and that their receptive partner during anal sex could have Hep C passed to them. If someone was in this situation we would recommend using condoms during anal sex.

Also have a look at the CATIE website as they are a Canadian website and have some great information on Hep C.

Let us know if you have any further questions or concerns.


A girl has genital warts. I want to have sex with her, is it safe if I have a condom? Does kiss also transmit HPV virus?


Thanks for your questions.

Yes, condoms reduce the chance of passing HPV. The HPV virus is passed through direct skin-to-skin contact, and the condom acts as a barrier between the skin. However, because condoms don’t cover all of the genitals, it’s still possible to pass HPV to the areas not covered by the condom. 

Although there’s no 100% way to protect against genital warts it’s important to know that they are not dangerous.They can be annoying, and some people don’t like the look of them, but genital warts are not dangerous in anyway.

We do not see HPV passed through kissing, however it is passed through oral sex.

Hope this helps! Please feel free to submit another question if needed.

Health Nurse

Can trichomoniasis be spread after I wash my hands


Thanks for your question.

Trichomonoiasis is an STI that can be passed through unprotected sex. Trichomonoiasis does not normally live on the hands, unless you touch the genitals of someone who has it. If you get sexual fluids on your hands from someone who has Trichomoniasis, then washing your hands is a good idea.

Trichomonoiasis is a parasite that cannot live outside the human body, and would likely die very soon after being on your hands (even without washing), but washing your hands will make it even less likely.

If you are touching the genitals of someone who has Trichomonoiasis, and then plan to touch your own (or someone else’s) genitals right away,  then it’s definitely important to wash your hands, as there may not be time for it to die off first.

If you have tested positive for Trichomonoiasis you need to get treatment with medication, washing your hands will not treat an infection inisde your body.

Hope this helps, please feel free to submit another question as needed.

Health Nurse


I’d like to know the chances of an STI being passed from woman to woman, via someone who gives oral sex to one right after the other. Would the chances go down if the giver brushes their teeth or uses mouthwash in between? Same question for fingering, and is washing w/ soap and water necessary in between for safety, or is it enough to just wipe hands off between partners? Thank you!


Thanks for writing.

It’s a really good idea to wash your hands with soap and water in between fingering partners. The sexual fluids from one person can stay on your hands (even if you wipe them off) and be transferred the other person. Sexual fluids can carry STIs like HIV, Gonorrhea, and Chlamydia and those can be passed if your hands are not washed between partners. Another alternative is getting disposable gloves to use, and switching gloves between partners.

For oral sex it’s less likely to pass sexual fluids. Brushing your teeth or using mouthwash could potentially reduce the chance of passing the STIs transmitted through sex fluids, but the chance is already low. Some STIs are passed by direct skin-to-skin contact and can be passed from your mouth to another person’s genitals. The STIs passed through skin-to-skin contact are Syphilis, Herpes, and HPV. You can reduce the chance of passing these if you use a barrier with your partners… for example when giving oral sex to a woman you can use a dental dam over the vulva/vagina.

Hope this helps!

Please feel free to submit another question as needed.

Health Nurse

hello, im a 29 years old male and I want to get tested for HPV because my girlfriend need the proof that im clean to have sex, where can I go to get that kind of test? here in Richmond bc or Vancouver area?


Thanks for writing.

In Canada we do not currently have any routine testing for HPV.

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a virus that is passed through skin-to-skin contact. There are hundreds of different strains of HPV, and anyone who has been sexually active will likely carry one or more of these strains. Most of the strains are not dangerous, and most people who carry them won’t develop symptoms.

Some of the strains of HPV can cause genital warts and after being exposed to the virus someone might develop warts on their genitals. These warts are diagnosed as “HPV” by visual assessment by a doctor or nurse, they are not diagnosed through a test. These warts usually go away on their own in 1-2 years, and there is treatment that makes them go away sooner if desired.

Other stains of HPV do not cause genital warts, but they can cause an increased risk for cancer. The strains that can be risky for cancer are always invisible, and you can’t see by looking at person if they have it or not. Women over age 25 are encouraged to go for the 3-year PAP test to check for the pre-cancerous kinds, but no other precautions are recommended.

I am not sure if your girlfriend is concerned about genital warts or cancer, but it might be worth having a look at our HPV information page together. Condoms can certainly reduce the likelihood of passing HPV between partners, but because condoms don’t cover all skin they’re not a 100% guarantee.

Generally when people ask their partner to get tested for STIs they mean: Chalmydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and HIV. If you need help finding an STI clinic near you check-out our Clinic Finder.

Hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any more questions.

Health Nurse