Herpes from a personal ad?

Dear Alice,

Do the initials HWP have anything to do with a sexually transmitted disease, like herpes? I saw this in a personal ad and wanted to know.


Dear Reader,

Although it's possible the person posting the ad meant "Hairy With Piercings," HWP usually stands for Height Weight Proportionate (or Proportional). That is, the person's weight falls within an average range for people of the same height.

While there aren't any sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with the initials "HWP," your question provides a great opportunity to list some of today's more common sexual health-related abbreviations:

AIDS = Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
BC = Birth control
BV = Bacterial vaginosis
CMV = Cytomegalovirus
EC = Emergency contraception
ECP = Emergency contraceptive pill
GYN = Gynecologist
HBV = Hepatitis B
HCV = Hepatitis C
HIV = Human immunodeficiency virus
HIV+ or Poz = HIV-positive (someone with HIV)
HPV = Human papillomavirus
HSV = Herpes simplex virus
IUD = Intrauterine device
LEEP = Loop electrosurgical excision procedure
OB = Obstetrician
OC = Oral contraceptives (birth control pills)
PID = Pelvic inflammatory disease
The Big H = Herpes
TSS = Toxic shock syndrome
UTI = Urinary tract infection

This list may be more likely to appear in a medical chart than a personal ad, but you never know… you might just see "HWP OB/GYN seeks similar professional who enjoys discussing the politics of ECP and the prevention of HIV and HPV."

Good luck with your deciphering — hopefully, it'll lead to some enjoyable dates!

Last updated Jun 11, 2015
Originally published Jun 19, 1998

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