The hookup culture (uncommitted sexual intercourse) has never been made easier thanks to the advent of dating applications and the general openness of modern men and women alike on the separation between sex and love. With every match on Tinder, meeting new and exciting people every week is almost guaranteed. If you play your cards right, you’re in for a weekend of a good time. Once you are hooked, you continue to do the same thing every single week, meeting new and beautiful people from different background to spice things up. It is also worth mentioning here that this hookup culture may not involve strangers at all, they can include acquittance and close friends. So, what could go wrong?
Well, there are a few things that could go wrong – minor ones include the person being absolutely horrible in bed (I’ll leave you to define that) or the person being absolutely horrible in general. However, even if you had a good time, that still doesn’t let you off the hook from the looming threat of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Since not everyone you date is a doctor or a health care professional, it is hard to be fully aware of what risk you are subscribing to in every physical encounter you engaged in.
The STDs of interest in this article is HIV, Herpes and Hepatitis B. Why? Because these are the infections that the general public, especially those in the hookup culture, is least informed of and they can (and they have) pose very dangerous chronic morbidities to individuals.
Let’s start with HIV.
Here’s why HIV should be your utmost concern if you’re into the hookup culture – those who carry the virus, do not know they have it, allowing them to continue spreading the virus unknowingly. You feel healthy? Good, but so does someone with HIV for the first 5 to 10 years of infection. HIV can stay in your body and not do anything for years and because of this, you do not have any symptoms or signs associated with HIV or AIDS. This is how HIV has been spreading, it’s easy to think that you are clean and healthy if you don’t have any signs or symptoms – leading to people unwarily engage in sexual intercourse with them. Even if you were to get tested before you decided to get physical, you’re going to have to wait a little bit. The rate of antibody produced towards fighting HIV varies according to people and that is why it takes around 28 days for 95% of people with HIV to be tested positive while some take longer than that and require a second confirmation test, 3 months after supposed exposure. The thought of even acquiring HIV should be a massive deterrent already because it will and has killed a lot of us by making our immune system severely weak and we simply don’t have any cure for it, only treatment to moderate the progression of the disease as well as to prevent its potential spread.
“But I use condom” – Using a condom can protect you from getting or spreading HIV provided that you only have vaginal sex (I mean, who uses condom during oral sex?) and that you use the condom correctly. If you switch between vaginal and oral sex in one session, having sores or ulcers on either the mouth or the genitals serves as an opening that can allow for the infection to get into the body. Not knowing how to use condom; i.e., only putting it on before ejaculation, may not be that effective to prevent the spread of HIV, as presence of ulcers around the genitalia can acquire or transmit the virus from or to your partner(s).
Oral and Genital Herpes
Here’s the thing about Herpes – there’s no cure for it and once you have it, it stays with you for the rest of your life. Once you have herpes, you will occasionally experience period of viral reactivation or outbreak, manifested as a single or clustered vesicles on the genitals, perineum, buttocks, upper thighs, or perianal areas that ulcerate before resolving. Since there is no cure, current treatment helps to ease symptoms of reactivation and reduce the risk of infecting others.
So how do people get Herpes? When someone with Herpes experience viral shedding through their skin and secretion, they can then transmit the virus to the person who are engaged in unprotected sex with them.
“In that case, I’ll just avoid having sex with them during viral shedding period then”
That may sound like fair point because viral shedding and outbreak can have visible albeit milder symptoms but you should also remember that asymptomatic (without symptoms) shedding of transmissible virus is also common. So even if you didn’t notice any sores, you can still transmit the virus to your partner.
The reason why Hepatitis B is in this list is because people hardly think of it as an STD and are unaware of how devastating contracting it can be. At this point, you can probably guess that like the previous 2 infections, Hepatitis B doesn’t have any cure for it. Treatment is just for controlling the disease from progressing to full blown liver failure or liver cancer. You can get Hepatitis B in a similar fashion as HIV, transfer and exchange of bodily fluids.
Fortunately, unlike the previous 2 infections, you can get vaccinated for Hepatitis B to provide optimal protection, fighting against the virus and clearing them from your system should you ever contract it in the future. However, if you are already exposed to it, vaccination will not do you any good.
As fun as the hookup culture can be, there are real risks that are not worth-taking. Even if you were to remain faithful to a selected number of people, you can’t be sure that these people do not have any extra partners beyond your knowledge. It’s best to have a committed partner and foster transparency and trust between each other. Get yourself adequate protection and take precautionary steps to prevent yourself from acquiring or transmitting STDs.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.