My housemate just told me she has genital herpes. My whole life I've had an extreme phobia of STDs, so I'm a bit unsettled. I cover the toilet every time I use it, but I'm worried because there have been instances where I think she's taken one of my wash cloths to use on her face... also, I think her bath towel touches the roll of toilet paper-- is there any chance that either of these could put the other three girls at risk? Are there any precautions I should take? I'm freaking out, and this is one of the reasons I was scared to move into shared housing.
It's very unlikely that you would get genital herpes from a toilet seat or other object like a towel. Most sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are transmitted only during sexual contact, either by skin-to-skin contact or through exchange of bodily fluids. The microorganisms — bacteria and viruses — that cause STDs such as genital herpes tend to be sensitive to their surroundings and can't survive outside the human body on a surface like a toilet seat for very long.
Extreme anxiety about catching an STD can get immobilizing and it can be helpful to undergo counseling to help you put your fears in context so they are not overwhelming. Call the Counseling Center at 650-3164 to set up an intake assessment.
1. Genital herpes. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp054.cfm
2. Albrecht MA. Patient information: Genital herpes. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html