Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on November 23, 2011

How can one get herpes?

Just curious…what are the ways one can get herpes?

answered by
on November 23, 2011

I’m glad you asked this important question about herpes transmission.

Herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Oral herpes is typically transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with someone who’s already infected by the virus – even including a harmless and loving kiss from a parent during childhood.

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is usually transmitted by genital-to-genital contact with someone who has a genital herpes infection. However, it’s important to note that you can get genital herpes through oral-to-genital contact with someone who has an oral herpes infection...and vice versa.

You may be aware that some herpes infections cause small blisters or sores. Herpes can easily be transmitted when these signs are present. But the fact is, most people with a herpes infection won’t notice any signs or symptoms...at least, not at first. Unfortunately, though, herpes can be transmitted regardless of whether any symptoms or visible signs are present.  

If you think you might have been exposed to herpes...it’s a good idea to get tested for the virus. Knowing your sexual partner’s STD status is smart, too, so that you can make the best decisions about safer sex. For example, using barrier protection (like condoms or dental dams) can help reduce the risk of catching herpes from an infected partner, as can suppressive herpes therapy for your partner to reduce the risk of transmission. 

For more specific information about herpes transmission, you may be interested to familiarize yourself with our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2. 

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