DEAR ABBY: I want to respond to "Hurt and Mad in Okemos, Mich.," who wants to sue her boyfriend, "Mack," for giving her a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
It sounds like she may have HPV (human papilloma virus), responsible for most abnormal Pap smears. The HPV is often microscopic on the cervix and the penis. With good gynecologic treatment and follow-up, "Hurt and Mad" could expect a favorable long-term response.
Mack may well be truthful when he says that he did not know he had an STD. I tell my patients that until they are willing to wear a wedding ring, they should use a condom. This includes women who are on birth control pills.
Thanks for allowing me to help, Abby. -- FRANK E. OLIVER, M.D., DALLAS
DEAR DR. OLIVER: Thank you for volunteering. Although condoms do not provide 100 percent protection against sexually transmitted diseases, they are far better than nothing at all.
DEAR ABBY: As an OB/GYN advice nurse, I address many concerns about STDs. It is estimated that more than one in 10 adults have the HPV virus. Once this virus is contracted, it never goes away.
The warts that the HPV causes may come and go. It is difficult to determine who transmitted the virus because the incubation period may be more than a year. Also, the first outbreak may be mild and go unnoticed. Often a male gets the warts behind his scrotum where they can go undetected for a long period of time. Thus, this virus may be spread innocently.
The most worrisome fact about HPV is that it is spread by skin-to-skin contact. This means a condom will not necessarily protect one from this sexually transmitted disease. There is no cure, but the warts may be removed when outbreaks occur.
Genital herpes is another virus that is spread by skin-to-skin contact. No condom will help if the lesions are not covered completely by the condom. It is important to know that a cold sore on the mouth is also the herpes virus. During oral sex this virus can spread to the genitals and vice versa.
In the heat of the moment, all rational thought tends to go out the window. Not only teen-agers, but adults as well should be aware of what the consequences may be.
Insisting on a complete physical exam for a new partner before beginning a sexual relationship -- and getting the result in writing -- is really the only safe sex. -- MYRENE GROSCOST-RANTA, R.N., WESTLAKE, OHIO
DEAR MYRENE: That's true. And individuals who are not assertive enough to insist on it should abstain from having sex. To do otherwise is to play "STD roulette."
DEAR ABBY: I have a warning. Digital microwave ovens are dangerous for memory-impaired people.
My elderly mother punched in what she thought was 8 minutes. She actually hit the 8 twice -- 88 minutes, and then dozed off.
The microwave was seared and the food turned to dust. It could have caused a terrible tragedy.
I immediately removed the microwave and bought one with a 30-minute dial timer. They are less expensive and much safer. Digital timers can be confusing. Elderly people are more familiar with dials. Thanks for letting me tell my story. -- ANDREA GOWEN, SEAL BEACH, CALIF.
DEAR ANDREA: I'm glad you did. Your letter may avert a tragedy.
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