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Who Gave Who Herpes?

By on January 8, 2014

Genital herpes is a common STD, and most people with genital herpes infection do not know they have it.

It’s estimated that 776,000 people in the United States get new herpes infections each year. And in the age of disposable relationships, and quick hook-ups, it’s critical to talk about sexual and health history with intimate partners. Genital herpes infection is common with 15.5 % of persons aged 14 to 49 years old, prime age range for sexual activity. Talk to your partner and know the facts.

Herpes Transmission

Herpes transmission happens when there is contact with lesions, mucosal surfaces, genital secretions, or oral secretions. HSV-1 and HSV-2 can also be shed from skin that looks normal. Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. Transmission most commonly occurs from an infected partner who does not have a visible sore and may not know that he or she is infected.

Symptoms of Genital Herpes

Most individuals infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 are asymptomatic, or have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed. As a result, 87% of infected individuals remain unaware of their infection. When symptoms do occur, they typically appear as one or more vesicles on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. The average incubation period after exposure is 4 days (range, 2 to 12).  The vesicles break and leave painful ulcers that may take two to four weeks to heal. Experiencing these symptoms is referred to as having an “outbreak,” or episode.

No Herpes Cure

There is no cure for herpes. Antiviral medications can, however, prevent or shorten outbreaks during the period of time the person takes the medication.

Preventing Herpes

Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of genital herpes. Herpes outbreaks can occur in areas that are not covered by a condom.

The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.

Personal health inquiries and information about STDs:

CDC-INFO Contact Center
1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
TTY: (888) 232-6348



Content from this article provided by multiple sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.