[Question #3048] Is there any std risk from used underwear?

39 months ago
Hi doctors, 
Thanks for your feedback. I have been abstaining from physical sex due to my unusual fear of getting an STD. Although I’m seeing someone for help , I’m doing things to satisfy my urges.  I met a guy online.  He worked out a couple times and sent me his used underwear. It took 4 days to ship to me and to get it.  

All I did was smell the underwear I had up against my face and I obviously touched it. I don’t think there was any body fluids on the underwear. 

Is there any risk from touching that underwear or smelling it for any std, hiv or the other especially the skin diseases like herpes syphilis or scabies ? Do any of these diseases live longer than 4 days ? 

Now I’m panicking that something went in my eye or by sniffing it it touched my mouth. 

Thank you again. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
39 months ago
Welcome to the Forum.  As you are already working with a counselor to address your fears, I will go straight to your questions.  You do not know that the man whose underwear you have been in contact with even has an STI- with the exception of HPV which most sexually active persons who have not received the HPV vaccine already have, most people do not have STIs.  Even in the unlikely circumstance that he did however, the microorganisms which cause STIs are fragile and do not survive when exposed to the environment, becoming non-infectious almost immediately upon exposure to the air and room temperature.  Thus, even more immediate exposures such as mutual masturbation in which partners get each others genital secretions on each other are no risk events.  Thus exposure to material (underwear) which might be contaminated with STD organisms is a totally no risk event.  There is no reason for concern or for testing related to your contact with this person's used underwear. 

I hope this information is helpful.  EWH
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39 months ago
Thanks doctor.  So there is a risk for HPV? 
Is HPV a virus forever like HSV so you get warts forever or does it clear your body and it’s gone ?




Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
39 months ago
The risk for HPV is theoretical and if it exists at all it is tiny.  Given your fears of STIs, (and even if you were not fearful), I would recommend that you seek and get the HPV vaccine which is highly effective and will virtually eliminate any risk of HPV and HPV-related complications for you.  I recommend this not because you are at risk but because I presume that at some time in the future you will become sexually active.

nearly all HPV infections clear and are no longer detectable, even without therapy a year or two after they are acquired. 

I hope I have not caused more concern for you by trying to provide a complete answer.  There is no known STI risk of any sort from the contact with used underwear that you have described.  EWH
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39 months ago
Thank you doctor. I washed my hands meticulously after opening package  and never touched my penis and the underwear With same hand but i did have underwear to my face. I have been sexually active before and I’m 33. I have looked to get the vaccine and I’m trying to find a doctor that will do it due to my age.  I will have to pay for it I think.

 Do you think my risk for HPV is truly theoretical  and should I get the vaccine still ?
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
39 months ago
As I suspect you know, our Forum limits us to a total of three responses.  This will be my third and will need to be the last.  Further, I would not encourage you to return to the site as I believe I have addressed your concerns related to this event.  

I do not know other details of your sexual history but I can assure you that there is no medical reason for you not to receive the HPV vaccine.  You will have to pay for it yourself and it will cost you about $500-$600.

As I said earlier, the is no risk to you for ANY STI from handling the used underwear you describe, not matter what it or you touched.

I hope my comments have been helpful.  This thread will be closed later today.EWH
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