(Welcome to our newest feature at TBK Magazine; Sex Ed Sessions. Our newest staff member, AnneMarie will answer all of your relationship and sex advice questions. Below is the official email to send your questions and your identity will keep secret.)
My friend said you can get hepatitis C from a public bathroom. Is that true?
To quote a former colleague of mine, “The only way you are going to get hepatitis C in a bathroom is if you are shooting up drugs with a dirty needle while you are in there.”
It’s a good idea to practice good basic hygiene when using a public restroom. Always wash your hands. However, you are safe from hepatitis C.
I started seeing a new guy a couple of months ago and he says he’s clean. I recently had my annual Pap smear and it was normal. I also had testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia. Both of these were negative. I declined blood tests for extra STDs because I’m not having any symptoms. I should be ok, right? I mean if I had something bad it probably would have shown up on one of those tests or I would have had symptoms by now.
First, how do you know FOR SURE that your current partner does not have any sexually transmitted infections? People are not always honest when beginning new relationships. Sometimes they are anxious about being honest with a new partner or they only have one goal – sex. Do you know for sure that he has had recent testing including a full workup? Has he had any other partners since you have become involved with him?
Secondly, Pap smears only screen for cancerous or precancerous changes to the cervical cells. It is not a test indicated for screening for sexually transmitted infection. If your Pap smear result is abnormal or you are over the age of thirty, most providers may test for the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is a virus that is transmitted sexually but it can be a chronic infection and is often viewed differently than other STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Occasionally during Pap smear screenings, an STI called trichomonas can be detected as an incidental finding.
Having a negative gonorrhea and chlamydia screening is very reassuring as they are the most common infections along with trichomonas. Unfortunately, this does not mean that you are in the clear. Up to 75% of people with sexually transmitted infections have no symptoms.
I often remind people that ultimately you are only responsible for your actions. Only you know what sexual activity you have been engaging in. No matter how much you trust your partner, you cannot guarantee their fidelity. You have a personal responsibility to protect yourself. My recommendation is for every sexually active person in a monogamous relationship to have yearly STI screening which should include swabs or urine culture for gonorrhea and chlamydia, as well as, blood tests for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and syphilis. If you are not in a monogamous relationship, you should have STI screening every 6-12 months.
Some STIs are curable but if left untreated for long periods of time may cause severe symptoms such as pelvic inflammatory disease or infertility. Other sexually transmitted infections are incurable but manageable with the right treatment. Perfect use of condoms greatly decrease your risk of most sexually transmitted infections. However, they do not provide adequate protection against the human papilloma virus or the herpes simplex virus.
Responsible and have a healthy, fun sex life!
If you would like to submit a relationship or sex education advice question, please send me an email at
firstname.lastname@example.org And if I answer your question, you will remain anonymous.