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Can You Get An STD From Sharing Food?

Illustration of woman and two men eating pizza at the office

While most STDs die shortly after leaving the body, some can survive outside the body for longer periods of time.

Hepatitis A is the only type of STD that is easily spread through contaminated drinks and food. Hep A is transmitted usually when fecal matter is ingested. This means that if your food is prepared and even trace amounts of infected fecal matter are in the food then transmission is possible. This could happen by having an infected person not wash their hands after using the restroom.

Hep A is a viral liver disease that can cause mild to severe symptoms. The virus infects the liver cells causing inflammation.

Symptoms of Hep A include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sudden nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially on the upper right side beneath your lower ribs (by your liver)
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • Intense itching

Most everyone that contracts Hep A will make a full recovery and will build an immunity to the virus.

Some ways that you can put yourself at higher risk of contracting Hep A are; traveling to areas and other countries where there are unsanitary conditions, sexual contact with someone that has been diagnosed with Hep A or living in close quarters with someone infected with the virus. You can also contract Hep A by eating shellfish that was caught in sewage polluted water.

Elderly and immunocompromised people are at higher risk of contracting Hep A. There is a vaccine to prevent the transmission of Hep A. The CDC recommends that anyone that has the expectancy to encounter Hep A get this vaccine. This includes:

  • All children at age 1, or older children who didn’t receive the childhood vaccine
  • Anyone age 1 year or older who is experiencing homelessness
  • Infants ages 6 to 11 months traveling internationally
  • Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
  • People in direct contact with others who have hepatitis A
  • Laboratory workers who may encounter hepatitis A
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who work or travel in parts of the world where hepatitis A is common
  • People who use any type of illicit drugs, not just injected ones
  • People with clotting-factor disorders
  • People with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • Anyone wishing to obtain protection (immunity)

If you are concerned about contracting this virus then you should investigate getting the vaccine.

Other STDs are not spread through the consumption of food or drinks because they usually either die quickly outside of the body and cannot survive in the environment or the person would need to come into direct contact with the mucus membrane or blood of an infected person for transmission to occur.

Although it is unlikely for you to get any other STD through sharing food and drinks, it is important to get tested for STDs to ensure you and your partners health is not compromised.

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