Trumpcare is callously threatening to block people with Medicaid from accessing care at Planned Parenthood — one of the nation’s leading HIV testing providers. The bill would derail the progress we’ve made and send us back to a time when it was nearly impossible for people living with HIV to get the care they needed.
My partner doesn’t think we need to use a condom because neither of us has ever had sex. Is that true?

Someone asked us:

Hello I was wondering if you could help me. My partner and I are in high school and are talking about sex. We both never had it before. I am terrified about getting a STD. My partner claims you don’t need to use protection if you never had sex before and are a 100% you have no std. Is this true?

Here’s the deal: you still need to think about using a condom even if neither you nor your partner has ever “had sex” with anyone before. Why? Because some STDs (like HIV, herpes, and scabies) can also be passed in non-sexual ways. And different people have different definitions of “having sex,” which could mean the difference between having an STD or not.

Example: some people think oral sex counts as sex, and some other people don’t. So someone who has had oral sex before might say they’ve never had sex and were never at risk for STDs. But you actually can get an STD from oral sex.

So talk with your partner about what they mean when they say they’ve never had sex. And keep in mind that the only way to know for sure if either of you has an STD is to get tested.

Remember that condoms prevent pregnancy, too, so if that’s a concern for you, condoms come in real handy. In fact, most people use a condom the first time they have sex. (And FYI: Condoms + regular birth control? Ultra protection.)

-Emily at Planned Parenthood

To those who chose to reject someone simply because they disclosed their herpes status

You are entitled to leave if you want. But keep this in mind:

80-90% of the population has herpes. Of those, 85% of people who have herpes have no idea. Of those who are aware they have herpes only half will actually tell you.

So, when you reject someone who is honest enough to tell you they have herpes because you don’t want to take that risk, just remember you are, in fact, taking a much larger risk with all the other people out there who may not know their status or be honest. Statistically speaking you are safer with someone who knows their status and is honest with you than with anyone else. And even those who claim they get tested regularly, herpes is not included in most STD panels unless you specifically ask.

So just keep that in mind when making your decision.

STDs! They’re pretty common. So if you’re in any type of  relationship — new, old, casual, serious — you have to talk about ‘em. Here are some common questions we get that deal with talking about STDs:

Ready to learn a bit more about the lead character in Star Trek: Discovery?

We spoke to star Sonequa Martin-Green about her mysterious role for this week’s upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly. Her character, First Officer Michael Burnham (deliberately a man’s name), has been shrouded in mystery so far, with the show’s trailer hinting at a Vulcan past. Is she human? Vulcan? Martin-Green is ready to clear things up (a little).

We can tell you that Burnham is fully human (not half-Vulcan as some have speculated) and is the first human to attend the Vulcan Learning Center as a child and then the Vulcan Science Academy as a young woman. She has a close relationship with Sarek (James Frain), the father of Spock. For the past seven years, she’s been serving on the U.S.S. Shenzhou.

“I’m the first officer on the U.S.S. Shenzhou that is captained by Captain Philippa Georgiou, who is played by the amazing Michelle Yeoh,” she says. “I have an inner war and it’s a journey of self discovery and finding out what it means to be alive, to be human, to be a Starfleet officer, what it means to be a hero.”

The producers searched long and hard to find an actor who could pull of Burnham’s divided nature. “We read a lot of people and they either went way too robotic or and chilly or way too emotional,” says Aaron Harberts, who serves as showrunner on the series along with Gretchen J. Berg. “What’s beautiful about Sonequa’s performance is she’s capable of playing two, three, four things at once. She’s got such a great command of her craft, she’s able to be aloof but warm; logical but able to surrender her emotional side to the audience.”

Adds Martin-Green: “I have the Vulcan conflict in my life from Sarek and Amanda so there’s always going to be that inner conflict with me. But I think it’s relatable because we all have some kind of inner conflict going on — who we are versus who we present ourselves to be. There’s a lot to be discovered.”

On Monday, CBS announced Star Trek: Discovery will debut Sunday, Sept. 24 (first on CBS, then shifting to CBS All Access streaming service).

C: We must end the stigma around getting tested. I have received so much push back from black men that insist that “we don’t do that” and “that shit is for white people.” No, it’s not! Your sexual health is so damn important. Stop playing with it. I won’t have sex or pursue a romantic relationship with any man who refuses to go to the clinic or share his results with me. No thank you. Our race leads in HIV and I don’t wanna be apart of that statistic.

Can herpes affect my ability to have a child?

Someone asked us:

Can herpes affect my ability to have a child?

Genital herpes shouldn’t affect your ability to get pregnant, and people with herpes who get pregnant have healthy pregnancies, births, and babies all the time. But there are extra precautions you can take to make sure you don’t pass herpes on to your baby.

If you already have herpes at the time you get pregnant, the risk to your baby is low. You and your doctor or nurse will keep an eye out for herpes outbreaks during pregnancy, and your doctor may recommend taking some medicine to reduce and prevent outbreaks.

If you have herpes sores on your genitals when you go into labor, it’s possible to spread it to your baby in childbirth. So your doctor may recommend a C-section to avoid that. When a newborn baby gets herpes it can cause certain eye problems or brain damage. So it’s important to tell your doctor or nurse if you have genital herpes or notice any herpes symptoms during pregnancy. Many people have no idea that they have herpes, so talk with your doctor about getting tested for herpes when you’re pregnant.

If you’re pregnant and you don’t have herpes but your partner does (or they think they might), it’s really important to use condoms and dental dams anytime you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex during your pregnancy. It’s also really important to talk with a doctor or nurse about it. They may recommend that you avoid sex during your third trimester. They may also have your partner take medicine to lower the chances of them spreading herpes to you throughout your pregnancy.

Taking serious precautions is important because getting herpes when you’re already pregnant can lead to premature birth or even miscarriage — and the risk of problems increases the later you are in your pregnancy. If you’re planning a pregnancy, it’s a good idea to talk with a doctor or nurse about STD testing and other pre-pregnancy health steps you can take. You can get testing and treatment for STDs, and other family planning help, at your nearest Planned Parenthood health center.

-Emily at Planned Parenthood