@kindofsquishy it’s an interesting question! I’m all about communication & consent as the foundation of any relationship. I also think the stigma about herpes is really unfair! From a medical perspective, it’s a minor infection & the fact is MOST PEOPLE HAVE HERPES! 70-90% of the adult population will have Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), but the vast majority will never get symptoms on either the mouth or genitals so they don’t get diagnosed!
When you inform a partner you have HSV, what you’re actually telling them is you’re one of the majority – not someone marked for life by a rare & terrible illness! The stigma of the diagnosis can definitely have a profound effect on people though. That’s why we need to start talking about herpes differently. For a fresh perspective, check out what this twenty-something woman has to say about living her life with genital herpes!
Ok, so now that I’ve dispelled some popular misconceptions… yes, you can decrease your chance of passing genital herpes on to a partner (assuming they don’t already have it) by: 1) avoiding sex when you have symptoms, 2) using a condom for penetrative sex all the time, & 3) for those who get frequent symptoms, taking antiviral medication every day.
Hope that helps!