STD Immunity

"588. Paladins are immune to STDs, but if I take advantage of this ability, I lose it. Wonderful paradox, isn't it?"

Some stories will be absolutely blind to venereal disease.

Of course, many writers are aware of the risk of catching an STD, but since the plot of the story is not about somebody dealing with an STD they avoid bringing it up. This may have the unintended consequence that when a story is about catching/having an STD, the disease seems to be a punishment for a lifestyle, rather than a lapse in judgement in self-protection. Another consequence is that sex can be made to seem inconsequential.

This is no big deal if the story takes place in modern times (as it is usually assumed at they are using protection), but it can be downright egregious when the Ethical Slut and The Casanova live in an era before such protection existed and never catch the Great Pox or the Disease of Naples.

Of course, this can be justified if the story takes place in a fantastical setting where no STDs exist.

Okay. Looks like we worked in the word 'consequences' as much as we could.

An obvious trope in most actual pornography, which should be all we have to say on the matter.

Subtrope of Ideal Illness Immunity.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Top 10, a Police Procedural in a city populated entirely by super people features a prostitute called "Immune Girl" who has this as her superpower. Sadly, she's not immune to the local Serial Killer who's been targeting the city's hookers.
  • During Chuck Austen's run on X-Men, there was a passing mention by Husk that mutants apparently can't get HIV. This was never mentioned before, was likely meant to include as a Hand Wave for why Archangel's healing blood didn't carry the really obvious health risk, and has never been mentioned again. Angel also mentions it and a doctor confirms it. One presumes that this applies to Wolverine (and by extension Daken and X-23) or any other character with a sufficiently strong healing factor.
    • That last point was once explicitly stated by The Hulk, whose healing factor at the time put Wolverine's to shame.

  • In I Love You Phillip Morris this is played straight when Steven dies of AIDS and Phillip, his lover, wonders why he wasn't affected (condoms are never mentioned). Subverted when it's shown that Steven was only faking his death and Phillip was never meant to find out. Though Steven's previous lover did actually die of the disease, so straight again, as Steven didn't catch the disease from him.
  • Two words: JAMES BOND. No STDs, no known condom use, no accidental pregnancy. (Saturday Night Live once did a sketch revealing that Bond has an unspeakably large amount of STDs.)
  • Averted in Cabin Fever. When 2 casual friends suddenly decide to jump in to bed together, in the middle of a flesh-eating disease outbreak, the man is aware of how dangerous their affair is, and remarks to the woman how surprised he is that she didn't care about using a condom - while they're in the middle of having sex. The woman tries to assure him that she's healthy, though she has no way of knowing this for sure and doesn't seem to care one iota about the health risks. As it happens, rashes - which are the first symptom of the deadly disease - are bought out on the woman's back while they're still having sex by her lover's passionate squeezes. Sure enough, the woman quickly deteriorates and dies thereafter, and the man later falls ill himself - confirmed by a scene where he pulls up his hospital gown to find sickly welts just above his crotch.
  • In Dead End (1937), the protagonist's ex-girlfriend has become a prostitute and is implied to have syphilis. Her "sickness" goes unnamed, however.

  • Sex in jokes usually plays this trope straight as bringing this up isn't usually important to the punchline - the aversions are the funny ones.
    • Three prisoners who are condemned to death are given the choice between a straightforward execution or being infected with HIV. The first prisoner opts for a quick death rather than potentially suffer for years. The second opts for HIV, saying that he'd rather live as long as possible. The third also opts for HIV. As the executioner injects him, he begins laughing maniacally. He continues laughing as they walk him to the gate of the prison and release him. Finally, a guard asks him what could possibly be so funny when he just got injected with HIV. The man answers, "You can't give me AIDS, you idiot! I'm wearing a condom!" and takes off running.
    • A beautiful young woman goes to the gynecologist, and the doctor is immediately overcome with desire for her. He begins caressing her skin and asks "Do you know what I'm doing?" She replies "Yes, you're checking my skin for rashes, etc." He begins feeling up her boobs and asks "Do you know what I'm doing now?" She nonchalantly replies, "Yes, you're checking my breasts for lumps." Overcome with lust, he climbs up on the table and enters her, saying "Do you know what I'm doing... now?" She looks him in the eyes and says "Yes, getting herpes."
    • An American man goes to China and sleeps unprotected with a prostitute. By the time he gets back to the States, his penis has turned green. He goes to his doctor, who shakes his head and says they'll have to amputate. Deciding to get a second opinion, another doc tells him the same thing. Suddenly he gets an idea - a Chinese doctor! The Chinese doctor looks at his penis and says he's seen this before. "Will you have to Amputate?" the man asks - "Oh, no - not at all!" the Chinese doctor responds. The man is breathing a sigh of relief when the doctor says "Two more days and it will fall off by itself!"

  • There are at least some amateur erotica writers who note (partially in humor) either in footnotes or in their profiles that all their stories are set in a world where STDs are non-existent or have been cured completely.
    • Likewise, in Harry Potter Fan Fic characters will usually cast a "contraceptive spell" before getting down to business. STDs, however, are rarely - if ever - mentioned.
    • In some Harry Potter fanfic, wizards simply can't catch normal Muggle diseases. They occasionally get bizarre magical ones, but that usually involves comical consequences like one's face being covered with feathers, and is fixable with potions or a trip to the hospital.
    • The entire Naked In School universe (which does not include How Hogwarts Became A Nudist Colony) has this as a requirement, as bodily fluid transmissions are inevitable. Condoms are therefore unnecessary, as all contraception is taken care of via inoculation.
    • Teen Wolf fanfic authors like to claim that werewolves don't get STIs.
  • A Fox Tail has "Venereal Elimination of Diseases" shots that are good against most STDs in the known universe. They're expensive but then again the more promiscuous main character used to electronically rob banks for fun.
  • The women in Harlequin romance novels seem to be immune to STDs while being simultaneously extremely fertile; if any negative consequence of a sexual encounter arises, it will invariably be an unwanted pregnancy, which will always happen if attention is drawn to them having unprotected sex.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's To Sail Beyond the Sunset the "good" protagonist never has a problem with STDs, despite a very healthy sex life. Her "bad" daughter, however, gets some. At least the "good" protagonist does actually use condoms, although only for birth control. When she is pregnant or willing to have children with someone during "spouse swapping", she skips the condom. Yet the STDs know to leave her alone, since she is "good".
  • Never fully explained in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiels Legacy books, though the ability to avoid pregnancy is. It may just be a D'Angeline thing.
  • Averted in the Tom Clancy novel Without Remorse, where protagonist John Kelly contracts a venereal disease from the abused woman he rescues. The doctors cure him without revealing it after she is murdered.
  • Averted in All American Boy by William J. Mann where the main character visits a friend/mentor of his who is dying from AIDS. He also reveals that his previous lover caught the disease, while he's "clean" because they had an open relationship.
  • Painfully averted in Someone Else's War, a book about Child Soldiers trying to survive and escape their horrific lives.
  • Thoroughly and constantly averted in A Brother's Price, where the fear of catching and passing on diseases seriously influences the culture and how it handles the rare men.
  • Averted in Letters to His Son by British statesman Lord Chesterfield: He mentions "a whoremaster with half a nose" note . Maybe to Scare 'Em Straight.
  • Averted in Name Of The Wind. In Kvothe's part of the world, it's rarely mentioned (because it's not really that relevant to him) but the Adem describe going to great lengths to avoid or remove venereal diseases. Kvothe notes how important this is in light of the amount of sex they have, and with how many partners.
  • Averted and played with in Youth in Sexual Ecstasy, the protagonist discovers that he has herpes right after having sex with the school's most attractive girl, he is told that given the sudden onset of symptoms it's unlikely he got it from her and more likely that he infected her, and he is also given the serious advice of tracking down all his previous sexual partners to warn them about it. Then he later learns that the girl was indeed infected, but with syphilis, how he didn't got the disease from her is never explained.
  • In Doctrine of Labyrinths, the POV characters have lots of sex in lots of ways with lots of partners (one is a male homosexual prostitute, one is a Good Bad Girl, one is a man who patronizes female prostitutes, and one is a man who patronizes male prostitutes), but nobody mentions disease or protection. Despite this being a high-fantasy series, magic isn't really a justification here, since much of the action is set in a country that bans the use of magic on people for any reason.
  • Played for laughs (sort of) in The Adventures of Good Soldier Švejk set during the World War One - one character describes his futile attempts to catch a venereal disease in order to avoid the military service. To his despair he remained as fit as a fiddle.
  • The Kingdom of Little Wounds is described by the author as "a fairy tale about syphilis." This trope is attacked savagely.
  • Never Wipe Tears Without Gloves is a brutal aversion, with most of the cast dead of AIDS by the end. Then again, the book is a semi-autobiographical look at the ravages of HIV/AIDS in Stockholm's gay community in the early eighties, and removing AIDS would have been missing the point in an epic way.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Faith has been stated to have lots of casual sex with no hint of condom usage yet never gets pregnant or infected. This might be due to her being a Slayer, but it's worth noting at least one Slayer had a child (Nikki Wood). Vampires are also likely immune to STDs and are mentioned in Angel to be unable to have children (for unspecified reasons).
    • Averted in an episode where Buffy has sex with Riley, who is shown reaching for a condom before they start.
  • Repeatedly averted in the soft-core series Red Shoe Diaries. Characters would often bring out the condoms just before getting it on. The show may be about casual sex, but it's about casual safe sex.
  • Averted in the fifth season of Supernatural as Sam is shown contracting gonorrhea and herpes. It should be noted that none of the STD's are ever acquired due to sex OR due to demonic blood drinking. In both cases, it was due to Sam aggravating a supernatural entity (a witch and a trickster who's really an Angel) and being cursed.
    • Both of the boys get hit with syphilis (along with scarlet fever and meningitis) by the Horseman Pestilence, although that's just his power instead of them sleeping around. They're cured not long after, though.
  • Averted on Gossip Girl where man tramp Chuck Bass has contracted at least a few STDs in his day, and on one occasion bonds with his uncle over what medication they got for gonorrhea.
  • Averted in Veronica Mars. That's how she guesses who raped her.
  • In an episode of Stargate Atlantis, the doctor finds it very odd that the woman from a primitive village who they have invited back to the base (and have put under a med test) is completely healthy, including a lack of any STDs. Turns out she's actually an ascended Ancient taking human form, so she's kinda beyond that.
  • Glee: Brittany has been known to have slept with almost all the guys at her school (and a few of the girls), and yet she has never been shown to have an STD. Considering she doesn't even know how babies are made, it's likely she has no idea what condoms or birth control are.
    • Averted with Brittany's exboyfriend Artie, who after having a casual sexual relationship with two different women, finds out he has chlamydia. He's shocked, despite he fact that he says he never used condoms because buying them freaked him out.
  • An odd aversion in an episode of Stargate SG-1, where O'Neill has sex with a local woman, and is infected with nanites that cause him to age rapidly.
  • Played straight on ER, where hospital stud Doug Ross managed to have drunken one-night stands with numerous women, yet never caught anything. Averted with Jeannie Boulet, who caught HIV from her cheating husband and feared she had given it to her boyfriend (she hadn't).
  • Averted during General Hospital's AIDS storyline, where Stone had AIDS and his girlfriend Robin eventually tested positive, despite two previously negative tests. Viewers pleaded for her to remain negative, but the writers felt that this would be irresponsible, as the two had had unprotected sex numerous times (they stopped using condoms once she began taking the pill) before they even knew of Stone's diagnosis.
  • Two and a Half Men, where not only does Charlie not get STDs, but it's commonly pondered why.
    • Of course, in one episode, he goes to the supermarket with Alan and is shown buying large numbers of condoms.
  • Averted in Grey's Anatomy, when the first season finale was about quite a few of the doctors dealing with an outbreak of syphilis from constantly hooking up with one another. Also serves to reveal that some of the characters cheated on their partners.
  • Lampshaded but ultimately left ambiguous with regards to Barney in How I Met Your Mother, where other characters often imply that Barney must be crawling with diseases after the number of women he's slept with, but this is never confirmed in canon. In one episode, after a stunt at the Superbowl causes dozens of girls to call him up for a date, he proudly tells the gang that he's going to sleep with every girl who calls him, but has hired Ranjit as his chauffeur rather than take public transportation, because "Ew, germs!"
  • Similarly, Joey from Friends is often the butt of these sorts of jokes. For instance, Chandler notes that Joey's advice will be useful if it's about "pizza toppings or a burning sensation when you pee."
  • In Deep Love it's noted that Ayu, a prostitute, and all other noted prostitutes use condoms with their clients most, if not all, of the time. Averted eventually when Ayu does contract AIDS and dies from it. It's also stated that Yoshiyuki's father has the disease at the end.
  • Game of Thrones: Despite these being The Dung Ages, no one seems to get STDs. Not Queen Cersei, not King Robert, not Tyrion, not Theon, not Shae, not even Ros. The trope is averted in the "A Songof Ice And Fire books" at least in passing. A Tyrell camp follower gave a young lord an STI. Also, the prostitute enlisted to teach Dany how to pleasure men is implied to have been living with an STI, and she suffered a flareup when she was weakened by hunger.
  • Averted in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with the Section 31 virus afflicting the Changeling race. The virus is spread through linking, the closest Changeling analog to sex. To bring about a Changeling genocide, Section 31 infects an unwitting Odo, who unknowingly infects the Great Link. By season 7, the virus has spread like wildfire through the Great Link, threatening the survival of the species.
  • Star Trek is usually big on this trope what with their advanced medical technology, but of Star Trek: Voyager had an episode where Harry Kim turns out to be the only Star Fleet officer to ever pick up a disease by sleeping with the Green Skinned Alien Babe. On top of that, he gets no sympathy from his superiors because he broke protocol with his interspecies liaison with a strange new race (not that it ever stopped Riker or Kirk, but they were senior officers of course).
  • Averted in one of the Firefly comics. Jayne gets an STD after sleeping with a hooker off-panel. He has to go to Simon to get it checked out. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Criminal Minds provides a strange case. In their world, people generally *are* aware of the risks of unprotected sex, so this trope is largely averted during the stories (e.g. "Paradise", "The Slave of Duty")- but the frequency of unprotected sex during the series makes one wonder if anyone even bothers with condoms to begin with. Surely some of the UnSubs might have gotten away if they did think about it.
  • Averted in Torchwood: Miracle Day. No one can die anymore, and when Jack suggests a condom, his hook up laughs it off about how no one can die. Of course, Jack, being better versed in the realities of immortality insists.
    Jack: Forever just got a lot longer.
  • In Private Practice, when Charlotte is raped, the possibility of her being infected is brought up (Addison gave her some pills just in case) and she gets tested, but she didn't have anything.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation had an episode where there was an outbreak of gonorrhea. Alex found out Jay was cheating after he was found to have the STD, and some girls also got it from having oral sex with him. This included Emma, who was to kiss a boy in a school play, but he gave her a fake kiss for fear of being infected. She didn't seem to care about infecting him, and was called out for it by her friend.
  • One episode of Bomb Girls had Gladys' fiancé James be infected with gonorrhea (where it was referred to as "The Clap") after cheating on her with a woman who was known to have had many sexual partners. He was treated with penicillin.
  • Averted in Scrubs: "My Hypocritical Oath" had a man get treated for an STD at the hospital and ask JD not to tell his girlfriend, Kylie, who found out about it after noticing that her coworker/friend had similar symptoms. Kylie wasn't infected because she and her boyfriend hadn't had sex yet.
    • Dr. Kelso, who frequently cheated on his wife, went to a clinic to be treated for an STD at least once.
    • There was an outbreak of syphilis at a nursing home; two of the patients came from that nursing home and were being treated for it.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • In 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, paladins were immune to disease by divine blessings, but they tend not to be the type to sleep around. However, Sune, the Goddess of love in Faerun, also promotes paladins, and like other divinely empowered beings, they are expected to promote their goddess' interests. Which admittedly sleeping around would go against (Sune is a goddess of love, not of sex. She's just as open as the edition in question allows about sex being a perfectly fine if far from obligatory part of love).
  • Also the case in FATAL, which, despite its heavy emphasis on sexual activity and its claim to be "the most...realistic and historically/mythically accurate role-playing game available", never even mentions STDs.

    Video Games 
  • The universe of The Spellcasting Series is STD-free. The narrator takes care to mention that fact, as Ernie Eaglebeak tends to shag every woman he can get his hands on.
  • Literal example in The Witcher. A Witcher's mutations render them immune to disease and cause sterility. He makes good use of both.
  • Averted in Fable II, having unsafe sex can cause your character to get an STD. This is mostly played for laughs, though, as STDs don't actually do anything.
  • Averted in Wasteland where sleeping with a hooker will always give the character "wasteland herpes". This does affect the character's health, though it can be easily cured at any hospital. Also noteworthy in that this is one of only six diseased/poisoned status afflictions in the entire game.
  • Subverted in Dragon Age II, in which the absurdly promiscious Isabela apparantly gets STDs often, but she knows a long-suffering mage called Anders who can get rid of them with no real difficulty. One NPC even claims she's so promiscuous that there's an STD named after her. And...yes, she's a potential Love Interest for the main character.
  • Averted in ''Elona, where encounters with prostitutes always leave you temporarily insane and has a chance to give you the "sick" status.
  • Inverted in Leisure Suit Larry, where having sex with a prostitute without wearing a condom will comedically kill you only a few minutes later!
  • Fallout: New Vegas, for the player, who can sleep with several women (and men, and a robot) in the game with no consequence at all.
  • In A Dance with Rogues, as the game is D&D-based, paladins are immune to disease. Unlike D&D, paladins in the Neverwinter Nights engine don't lose their powers if they lose their alignment, so a Princess who takes a level of Paladin early on can screw whoever and whatever she likes with no risk of disease, regardless of where her alignment will go. (As this is a game about thieves and thieving, maintaining a Lawful Good alignment is very difficult.)
  • The Sims series has pre-made characters who are supposedly promiscuous, and promiscuity is actually a lifetime goal for some sims, but none suffer for it, since such diseases don't exist in the world. This, however, can be changed with mods.

  • Angel thinks you can only get an STD from contact between a penis and a vagina, which is convenient for her since she's apparently been banging every female who asks for the last ten years. Thea, a similarly-inclined woman who was similarly inclining Angel until recently and has caught restless leg syndrome, is understandably flabbergasted at Angel's delusion.
  • Teahouse is set in a brothel, no protection is ever seen and there's no comment on STDs.
  • Subverted in Times Like This: Cassie gets gonhorrea and herpes from fooling around in the disco era, but since We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future, she can go to 2205 and easily get medicine that cures both in a matter of hours.

    Web Original 
  • Justified in Chakona Space, Chakats have genetically enhanced immune systems and well-defined estrus cycles. So despite their habitual Polyamory they never catch anything and rarely get pregnant by accident (as opposed to on purpose). And sometimes, on the rare occasion that a chakat is in heat and doesn't want kids, a brief mention of wearing protection is added.
  • Likewise justified in The Journal Entries — Pendorians don't need to worry about STDs (or diseases in general, period) overmuch because they owe their extended lifespans to helpful medical nanotech inside their bodies in the first place and unwanted pregnancy likewise isn't usually a concern for them. The emphasis is still on not getting too reckless (especially in BDSM or otherwise 'risky' play), and safety concerns are explicitly brought up and addressed every so often.
  • Subverted by Ask That Guy with the Glasses and later on, The Nostalgia Critic. Both Mr Fanservices with active and messy sex lives, both have suffered the effects.

    Western Animation 
  • Subverted by Quagmire of Family Guy, who is apparently the venereal disease equivalent of Mr. Burns in that he carries every STD known to man but shows no symptoms (as his diseases are so balanced with each other that a slight imbalance could kill him). In fact, the only sexually transmitted disease he doesn't have is an unnamed disease from an African insect that Peter personally flew out and tried to find.
    Quagmire: "Joke's on you, I already have Hep C!"
    Peter: "Okay, what about... (stabs Quagmire with hypodermic needle) Gonorrhea!"
    Quagmire: "Patient zero."

    Real Life 
  • Some 10% of Scandinavians bear a gene mutation which makes them immune to HIV. Even having that mutation as a single gene reduces dramatically the chances of catching HIV or already caught HIV to worsen into AIDS.