Is it possible to have an STD if you’ve never had sex?

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Someone asked us:

Is it possible to have HIV or other STDs without ever being sexually active with another person? (I felt like I should ask before I have my first time while I have the chance, because it would not be a good thing to infect someone with something I didn’t know I had) -Sincerely, A young teen that has a question

It’s awesome that you want to have all your bases covered before you have sex.

Here’s the thing: some STDs can be transmitted in other ways besides sex. So it’s rare, but possible, for someone who’s never been sexually active to spread STDs.

For instance, if a mother has HIV, it can be transmitted to her child during pregnancy, birth, or through breast milk. So some people are born with HIV, or get it when they’re very young. HIV, as well as Hepatitis B, is also carried in blood. So sharing needles (for drug use, piercings, or tattoos, for example) can transmit some infections, whether or not you’ve ever had sex.

Other STDs that are passed through skin-to-skin contact can be transmitted nonsexually: herpes can be passed through kissing — even a quick peck from a family member.

If you haven’t been exposed in any of these ways then it’s highly unlikely that you have an STD. But if it’s still something that’s bugging you, you can get tested. After all, STD testing is an important part of keeping yourself healthy once you decide to have sex. We recommend sexually active people get tested at least once a year — and don’t forget to use condoms and dams, too!


-Mylanie at Planned Parenthood