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Which Sexually Transmitted Infections Spread by Skin to Skin Contact?


Updated May 22, 2014

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Question: Which Sexually Transmitted Infections Spread by Skin to Skin Contact?
Most sexually transmitted infections spread either by exposure to infected fluids or by direct contact with infected skin. Although a few, such as pubic lice, can be spread by even more casual contact, STI transmission via clothing or other objects is relatively rare.
Answer: STIs that can be transmitted via skin to skin contact include:

STIs that are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact may be difficult to fully prevent by safer sex, since barriers do not necessarily cover all potentially infectious skin. However, practicing safer sex does reduce the risk of skin-to-skin STI transmission from diseases such as herpes and HPV.

In contrast, it is easier to effectively prevent transmission of STIs such as HIV and hepatitis by using condoms and other barriers. These STIs require exposure to infected secretions such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluids for transmission to take place. (Which secretions are infectious varies by disease.) Remember, though, HIV does not spread by casual contact or skin-to-skin contact.

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