[Question #4819] What STDs can be contracted via kissing

25 months ago
My son is in college and went to a party. At the party he kissed a girl. He said he didn't do anything beyond kissing the girl. The next day, his friends told him that the girl he was kissing had an STD. Of course my son is upset but there is no way to know if that is true or not. What STDs can be contracted via kissing and how will he know if he contracted anything?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
25 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

First, no STDs are transmitted by kissing. Even if your son's kissing partner has some sort of active STD, he definitely is not at risk. No worries at all and no need for testing.

Second, I would not trust the rumor from your son's friends that his kissing partner has (or had) an STD. On the other hand, that statement is accurate for 90% of all humans, when you consider that 90% of us get genital human papillomavirus (HPV) by the time we have had 3-4 sex partners. (That's why everyone should be vaccinated to prevent infection with the 9 HPV strains that cause 90% of HPV related health problems. If your son hasn't been vaccinated against HPV, he should be!)

And third, you should assume your son is or will soon in fact be at risk, i.e. that he will become sexually active soon if he has not had intercourse already. This is a fact of life -- it always has been for persons your son's age, and perhaps even more so in the modern era (than perhaps during yor own youth). Of course there are exceptions, i.e. people who do not become sexually active until married or otherwise in a mutually committed relationship, but they are in the minority, regardless of intent, religous upbringing, etc. It's difficult to fight human nature! In any case, if or when he becomes sexually active, that's the time for him to take precautions against STD:  common sense partner selection, condoms, etc. But not until then. (And make sure he gets the HPV vaccine!)

So please reassure your son on my behalf -- but also help him be prepared in the future.

I hope this information is helpful. Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD

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