[Question #218] herpes simplex 1 & 2

94 months ago
Recently, I have been tested and confirmed to have genital herpes simplex 1. My doctor confirmed by doing swab test of my lesions. If I was to have sex with someone who has simplex 2 Can I get herpes 2 in the genital area as well?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
94 months ago
Yes, you can.  Having HSV 2 basically protects you against getting HSV 1 subsequently (the odds are about 1 in 55,000 that this would happen based on a study out of the University of Washington), but you can still get HSV 2 genitally, yes.  Having HSV 1 infection would make any acquisition of HSV 2 more likely to be without symptoms or with very mild symptoms, but it certainly can happen.  My suggestion would be for your partner to use daily antiviral therapy and condoms (if you partner is male - can't really tell) to reduce the risk of HSV 2 transmission to you.  Some studies by Dr. Larry Stanberry suggest that there may be some reduction in the likelihood that you would acquire HSV 2 genitally due to the presence of your HSV 1 infection and its local immune response, but that has not been proven definitively and it would not be 100%, even if it proves to be true.

Please let me know if you have further questions.