STDs Expert Forum
Kissing and STD
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Kissing and STD

Hi Doctor,

I know my posting history indicates health anxiety, especially with regard to STDs, and I am currently seeking professional help with that.  I believe the incident which initiated that fear was the following and I was wondering if you could provide an assessment for me.

Two years ago I met a woman at a bar and we engaged in "deep kissing." I realized later that night that I had a canker sore on the inside of my lip.  About 1-2 weeks later I experienced a rash on my arms and chest, a fever, sweats and either a week or two later I also experienced pretty bad diarrhea.  

My fears drove me to get tested for HIV, which naturally came back negative.  However, the incident did begin a period of anxiety for me.

Now, my major concern is Syphillis (syphilis) as I am aware that it can be transmitted through deep kissing.  I do not remember a syphilis sore being on my mouth as this is not something I was looking for nor would it be somethign I would recognize.

My questions are:
1.  Are these symptoms consistent with Syphilis?  
2.Did I put myself at risk for it through this encounter?
3. Should I get tested for it now?
4. Now that its been two years, could it be at a dangerous stage?

Thank you very much.  Just to be clear the symptoms I experienced durign that time were very real, and not anxiety driven while my worries now may be.  Thanks again
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Kissing does not transmit STDs.  Syphilis theoretically could happen, but is exceedingly unlikely. Your canker sore makes no difference.  In 30+ years in the STD business, I have never seen or heard of a case transmitted by kissing -- and since the large majority of syphilis in the US occurs in gay men, it is very unlikely your kissing partner had syphilis.  This is a pointless worry; it is your psychological problem talking.  And your symptoms don't sound like syphilis either.  (I have no doubt you had some sort of infection -- but probably a garden variety virus, not syphils or any other STD.)

So the answers to questions 1 and 2 are no.  Question 4 is irrelevant; you don't have it.  For question 3, there is no medical need for syphilis testing, but of course you can always do it if you feel a need.  But instead I encourage you to continue working on the mental health problem.  Until that is resolved, it seems clear you're going to have one irrational health worry after another; it will never end until you get the main problem under control.

There won't be any follow-up comments or discussion.  This is in your best interest.  There is nothing you can say that would change my opinion or advice, and our experience shows that allowing continued "what if" or "yes but" questions merely prolongs anxiety.  Sorry if this sounds harsh.  Call it tough love, but that's the way it will be.

Regards--  HHH, MD
Thank you very much Doctor.  I am working on the health anxiety and although these forums are a great source of knowledge, for people such as myself they can often lead  to the entertainment of unlikely scenarios and fears.  I really appreciate your explanations in light of the fact that they are unlikely situations.  Take care.
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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