How Contagious Is the Herpes Virus?

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Herpes is a virus that can be quite contagious during outbreaks, and is spread via skin to skin contact.  It is not airborne, and individuals with herpes can take proper steps and precautions to avoid spreading the virus to other people.  There are two well known strains of herpes.  HSV-1, which is commonly known as cold sores, and HSV-2, which is known as genital herpes.  Both strains of the virus can be spread during outbreaks, and the problem with genital herpes is that many individuals mistake their symptoms for something else.  It is always a good idea for sexually active individuals to take proper precautions and get tested for STD’s, as testing will be able to prove whether or not they are infected with the virus.

HSV-1 or cold sores can be spread from one person to another by kissing, sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, and it can also be spread by oral sex practices if an infected individual performs oral sex during an outbreak.  HSV-2 or genital herpes can be spread from one person to another during vaginal, anal, or oral sex practices when an infected individual is experiencing an outbreak and the proper precautions are not taken.

Although herpes remains in the body indefinitely, there are many times when the virus lies dormant, and people can experience long lengths of dormancy, sometimes up to two years, without an outbreak.  Although it is still possible for the virus to be spread during this time, chances are considerably less, especially when the proper precautions are taken.  If a condom is worn during an outbreak, the chance of spreading the disease is also minimized, but it is not 100 % safe.  The best way to avoid the spread of herpes is to remain abstinent during an outbreak, and to always use protection, even in dormant stages.  The female condom is also a good source of protection, as it is worn internally by the woman, and it protects the vagina and uterus from becoming infected.

Currently, there is no known cure or vaccine for the herpes virus, but medical professionals and scientists are working hard to develop either a cure, a vaccine, or both.  Herpes is not a death sentence, and many individuals feel the shame and are afraid of the stigma attached to the disease.  It is important to be as honest as possible with any new sexual partner about your herpes status, and inquiring about their STD status as well.  By educating yourself on the possibilities of spreading the disease, as well as learning the best times to avoid sexual activity, you will be taking a responsible step in your personal and sexual relationships.

There is definitely hope on the horizon, even if a cure isn’t discovered in the near future.  Every day, there are new and innovative discoveries being made in prevention techniques, so there may one day be a way to prevent the spread of the disease by 100 %.  In the meantime, if you are someone that is infected with the virus, taking the time to educate yourself and protect your partners will greatly reduce your chances of spreading the disease to another person.

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