[Question #1672] Herpes Transmission

43 months ago
I have genital herpes. Can my partner, who does not have herpes, still touch my vagina?
Could he get herpes on his hand?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
43 months ago
He will NOT get herpes on his hand if he has intact skin on his hand while touching you - that is not a worry.  Has your partner ever been tested to know for certain that he does not have herpes?  About 80% of those infected with HSV 2 don't know that they are infected.  And do you know if your herpes is HSV 1 or HSV 2?  That might be good to know so you can determine, through IgG testing, if you are the same or different than your partner.

Terri
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43 months ago

I just want to be able to have an informed conversation with future partners, who may not have herpes, about protection. I know about the different tests for herpes and the two types.  Can you get herpes anywhere there is broken skin? If we both have the same type of herpes virus on our genitals, do antibodies make it less likely to spread to the mouth from oral sex?

Thank you for your help

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
43 months ago
No, I wouldn't say that you can get herpes anywhere you have broken skin - the virus would need to get from you body into their broken skin and that might not be as easy as you think.  It takes a certain volume of virus to get infection, in addition to just being exposed to the virus, so transmission is probably not as easy as you are imagining.  For example, if they had a cut on their elbow,  they aren't going to get your herpes there because they aren't going to get exposed there, for example.  If you and a partner both have the same type genitally (say HSV 2) then there is an extremely low probability that either of you would get it orally as you've mounted a robust immune response to that virus already. 

You have one more question now - feel free to post again

Terri
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43 months ago
I know HSV1 can be transmitted to the mouth or genitals. I've read that it is more rare for HSV2 to be transmitted to the mouth, is this true?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
43 months ago
That is true. HSV 2 seems to have what we call a site preference for the genital area.  If a person has intercourse with and gives oral sex to a person with genital HSV 2, it is possible to get HSV 2 in the mouth and genital area, but if that happens, the oral infection will rarely recur and rarely shed virus while the genital site will be far more active. 

Terri
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