[Question #7573] STD/Herpes Risk

2 months ago

Hello, yesterday I went to a STD Urgent Care to get a rash swabbed for Herpes. Before they did the swab they asked if I would do a urinalysis which I agreed to. I went to the bathroom and picked up the marker, wrote my name on the cup and without thinking, directly touched my penis from touching the marker. I am very concerned that I exposed myself to Herpes or any STD for that matter because the marker I touched could have easily been used by someone that directly touched their genitals/sores/fluids, then touched the marker, and I would’ve exposed myself by directly using the marker then touching my penis. Can Herpes or any other STD be spread this way? Do I have anything to be concerned about from this? 


Thank you for your help. 


H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
2 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

You needn't be worried at all:  there is no chance you caught herpes or any other sTD from the events described. No STDs are transmitted by contact with contaminated objects. STDs are not just infections that happen to involve the genital area. They are sexually transmitted because they are difficult to pass on to other people -- unlike colds, flu, COVID-19, or many other infections. SEX ITSELF is required for transmission. Anyway, of course there is no realistic chance the marker could have been in contact with another person's genital area -- but even if that happened, no STD could be transmitted in this way. So for sure there is nothing to be concerned about.

I hope these comments are helpful. Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD
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2 months ago
Thank you for your response Dr. H, it was very reassuring and I am no longer concerned about what happened. However, I did think of another question that is concerning me regarding the actual Herpes Swab I had done at the Urgent Care. I asked them to swab the painful rash directly underneath my tailbone, which they did, but then the provider also wanted to use the same swab and do a quick brush around my anus. My concern is that the swab of the rash on my tailbone wouldn't be accurate because the virus would've been wiped off around my anus. Is this of any concern or can I still count on the Herpes swab being accurate?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
2 months ago
That's no worry at all. Once a swab has contacted a potentially infected site, you could not possible wipe off enough specimen to turn the test negative. The only way you could do that would be to disinfect the swab, e.g. wash it in alcohol or soapy water.---
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2 months ago
Thanks for the quick response and that's good to hear. My final post and question for you is the Herpes swab I had done didn't look like the typical brush they use. It looked like a normal Q-tip. I questioned the provider about it and she said it picks up HSV and bacteria. I've never heard of that and I was wondering if that test will be accurate with a typical Q-tip or if a special one is required for Herpes Swab?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
2 months ago
The type of swab doesn't matter. This too is nothing to worry about.

In general, it sounds like you're pretty obsessed with trivial STD issues. Certainly you needn't be worry about ever contacting herpes or any other STD unless and until you have sex with potentially infected partners. The myth about toilet seats and towels was cleared up over a century ago!

That completes the two follow-up exchanges included with each question and so ends this thread. I hope the discussion has been helpful. Best wishes and stay safe.
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