Hey there Guys. This week I have had a number of patients who have had questions about herpes, it’s symptoms and in particular the question “how do you get herpes?”. Today I wanted to cover the main ways that herpes can be spread as well as strategies if you are in a partnership where one partner has herpes and the other doesn’t.
Herpes is a viral infection that causes a painful blistering rash.
Herpes is typically found on the lips or on the genitals.
There are two stains of the herpes simplex virus, HSV 1&2. While type 1 is normally found on the lips and type 2 on the genitals, oral sex can spread the virus to opposite regions. The usual way that herpes is spread is from skin to skin contact.
Herpes is most infectious when the blisters are present however virus can be present even when there are no blisters.
To prevent spread of HSV it is best to use condoms to decrease the skin to skin contact required to spread the virus. Preventative medications to reduce frequency of attacks also reduce the chance of spread however there is still a low risk of sharing the virus.
Once a person has been infected with one strain of the herpes virus they are not able to be infected with the same strain. There is however potential to be infected with the other strain.
What Can Be Done If Your Partner Has Herpes?
If your partner has herpes it is advisable that both you and your partner get tested. This can be done with a simple blood test.
If you have both are infected with the same strain of virus it will not be possible for it to be spread between each other as you can not be infected with the same strain twice.
If you have never been infected, or you have been infected with a different strain to your partner there is a risk of infection.
You can reduce risk of infection by using condoms whether the blisters are present or not.
If your partner has frequent attacks daily treatment with antiviral medications like acyclovir, valcyclovir or famcyclovir can reduce the risk of outbreaks and spread. Condoms are still advised the risk of spread is not completely removed.
If you or your partner have an outbreak of a painful blistering rash it’s important to see your doctor as soon as you can as taking antiviral medicines within 72 hours of the rash appearing can decrease the pain and duration of the outbreak.
I hope this brief introduction to answer the question “how do you get herpes” has been helpful.
Yours in good health.