Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on November 11, 2011

Is there a vaccine for herpes?

Can I get a vaccine against herpes so I don’t have to worry about getting it?

answered by
Lisa Oldson, MD on November 11, 2011

That’s a thoughtful question.

As you may already know, herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex virus (HSV) and researchers are attempting to develop a vaccine against it. And, in fact, the World Health Organization reports that strides toward developing a herpes vaccine have been made recently.

That said, a vaccine or cure for herpes is not available yet. But if you don’t have herpes, you can take steps to protect yourself from getting herpes by practicing safer sex. For example, using condoms can help reduce the risk of catching herpes from an infected partner...but keep in mind that because herpes is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, condoms can only protect the skin they cover so they’re not fool proof.

And if you do have herpes, there is some good news...we have good antiviral medications that can help treat herpes outbreaks and reduce the possibility of having an outbreak at all. Antiviral herpes treatment can also reduce the risk of infected people passing the virus to others who don’t have the infection.

You can learn more about herpes risk factors, prevention and testing an in our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2. Thanks for writing and I wish you the best of health.

Lisa Oldson, MD

Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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