Jill Grimes, M.D.

The 12 Days of April

Get Tested Because Sex is Risky


"Inquiring minds want to know..."

            so here are the facts behind the lyrics:


Day 1- "Anyone can catch an STD"

            Fact: People of all races, ages, professions, and socio-economic groups catch sexually transmitted diseases. Don't be fooled into thinking you can tell by looking whether or not someone has a disease!


Day 2- "Herpes crosses the belt"

            Fact: Much of genital herpes is the result of oral sex. If one person has herpes in their mouth (aka. "cold sores" or "fever blisters"), they can transmit that infection to their partner's genitals via oral sex- WHETHER OR NOT there are visible blisters present!


Day 3- "HPV is common"

            Fact: 50-75% of people who have sex will become infected during their lifetime. There are over a million cases of genital warts per year in the United States.


Day 4- "Crabs are pubic lice"

            Fact: Pubic lice are highly infectious! You can catch them from intimate behavior OR from sharing linens, towels or underwear with an infected person. This is why you should wear underwear when you are trying on swimsuits in stores!


Day 5- "Most STDs are SILENT!"

            Fact: The majority of sexually transmitted infections are silent, which means you need to go to your doctor or other medical provider and specifically ask to be tested for these diseases to be certain that you or your partner are "clean"! They will draw your blood for HIV, syphilis, herpes and hepatitis. Urine samples and/or vaginal or urethral swabs will test for chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomonas. A Pap test checks for HPV, the cause of cervical cancer. GET TESTED!


Day 6- "Oral Sex is RISKY!"

            Fact: Many diseases are transmitted by oral sex. Herpes is very commonly transmitted this way, and HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and hepatitis can be passed in this way as well. Condoms used with oral sex help decrease transmission. Oral sex does not cause pregnancy, but it is NOT "safe sex"!!


Day 7- "Toilet seats are SAFE"

            Fact: Sexually transmitted infections are NOT passed via toilet seats, no matter what your mother taught you! If the seat is wet, wipe it off with toilet paper and don't worry.


Day 8- "Gonorrhea is RESISTANT!"

            Fact: We're down to basically one drug to treat gonorrhea, because it has become resistant to one antibiotic after another- that's scary!


Day 9- " Chlamydia scars your tubes"

            Fact: Chlamydia and gonorrhea are often silent, yet can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and subsequent chronic pelvic pain and infertility! If we screened and treated every sexually active young woman in America for chlamydia, we'd prevent an estimated 8000 cases of infertility every year! It's easy to treat when caught early, but you've to test for it to know it's there!


Day 10- "AIDS has passed a million"

            Fact: We have over a million people living in the United States with HIV infection, with over 56,000 new cases diagnosed each year. While survival rates are improving, HIV is a challenging disease with much drug resistance. [Note- there are not over a million people living with the actual diagnosis of "AIDS" (which is more advanced HIV infection), but we couldn't sing "HIV" fast enough to flow well, so we went with the single syllable "AIDS" for simplicity.]


Day 11- "Trich is not a treat"

            Fact: Trichomonas is a difficult to diagnose but relatively easy to treat parasitic infection. The big deal is that when you are infected with "trich" (and 90% of men and many women have no symptoms) you are much more likely to catch other STDs, especially HIV. Trich infections make you more susceptible- no treat, indeed!


Day 12- "New partner? BOTH need testing!"

            Fact: See all of the above! Make certain YOU are not going to transmit a silent infection to your new partner, and be fully aware of any disease that they can potentially transmit to you.