Hi @nurse_nettie, I was having a conversation with a friend about herpes – it’s such a confusing and misunderstood STI, and I was wondering if you could help clarify something for me.
If someone has herpes (HSV-2, the kind that isn’t mostly responsible for mouth cold sores) but is taking daily medication to suppress it, does this make them less likely to pass it on in times when they have no symptoms? I know the medication can reduce symptoms but I find it unclear as to whether it reduces the asymptomatic viral shedding too? Is it more or less than someone with herpes but who has never had symptoms? Can someone who has never had symptoms still pass on herpes through shedding?
I’m mainly asking for the context of a relationship where a couple might want to stop using condoms to be more intimate. If someone is taking daily suppression treatment, are they less likely to pass on the virus during those times with no symptoms? Or does the treatment only really effect the severity of symptoms when they do show?
I know thats weirdly specific but every time I think I understand how herpes works, a spanner always gets thrown in the works!
Hi @mintmilano antivirals reduce symptoms and asymptomatic viral shedding, definitely.
This factsheet might help you out:
HI @mintmilano, @jessica is right, taking antivirals every day (AKA suppressive therapy) reduces both symptoms & viral shedding even when there are no symptoms present.
Thanks for sharing that pamphlet, @Jessica! Do you know who produces it, what website it comes from?
Hi @nurse_nettie, I know the info comes from HerpesLife.com. It’s such an informative and wonderful fact sheet.
I have a herpes question as well! If someone has a cold sore, and passes it to another person via kissing, can they keep passing it back and forth?
@honeypot Good question, the answer is no. Once you have cold sores (usually caused by herpes type 1) you can’t be re-infected with same virus. It stays in your body for life & kissing someone who has it already won’t affect you at all!
Ah! Thanks for that! So you can’t cause an outbreak in someone who already has it?
@honeypot yeah I’m pretty sure once you’ve got the virus it’s dependant on your body as to when it has outbreaks?
I agree @honeypot ! Its actually the most common STI and most people don’t know anything about it!
I have a few friends who have contracted type 1 on their genitals from a sexual encounter at some point and had no idea!
They felt a lot better about it once they learned that its actually really common.
@mintmilano That’s an interesting question! I wonder that myself too (I have HSV-1 so a big concern for me)! I generally just avoid any contact when I have an outbreak though because it’s not pleasant for anyone getting all up in my business while that’s going on. This article might help clear up a few things though. Any thoughts on this @nurse_nettie?
HAHAH I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS FOLKS
If someone has a cold sore, and they kiss a part of someones body that is not the mouth or genitals, can it still be passed on?
Ok folks, lots of good questions about herpes! I’ll try to cover them all here 🙂
@honeypot that’s right: you can’t cause herpes symptoms in someone who already has it. The frequency & severity of your symptoms depends on your own immune system & nothing else.
@mintmilano Yes, it’s possible to get both herpes type 1 & herpes type 2 on the same body part. For example, you could have both types on the mouth. You can also get one type on the mouth and the other on the genitals. BUT, you’re unlikely to get one type on both the mouth and the genitals (so if you have herpes type 1 on the mouth, you’re protected from getting herpes type 1 on the genitals).
@tea that’s an interesting article, thanks for sharing! I like that it spells out that most people with herpes type 1 or type 2 don’t get any symptoms! That important fact is rarely mentioned in herpes info for some reason! I like that it challenges the idea that herpes type 2 is the “bad one,” but it might overstate the dangers of type 1 in the process. Remember 70% or more of us have herpes type 1 & complications are very, very rare.
@honeypot Herpes only very rarely affects other parts of the body besides the mouth or genitals. The skin is a great barrier to most infections. It’s the mucous membranes of the mouth & genitals that are the pathway for most STIs. If you have a cold sore on the mouth it can be easily passed to someone else mouth through kissing or to genitals through oral sex.
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