Can You Spread Herpes Without an Outbreak?

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When Can Genital Herpes Be Spread?

  • Sadly, yes, it is possible to spread genital herpes without an outbreak. In fact, the majority of people who become infected with herpes are infected during an encounter with another person who shows no signs or symptoms of an outbreak. While it is true that a person who is infected with herpes is much more infectious during an outbreak, he can be contagious without any visible symptoms. And, in some cases, a person may be infected without ever knowing it.

How Can I Avoid Contracting Genital Herpes?

  • The only completely safe way to avoid contracting herpes is through abstinence and through the avoidance of skin-to-skin contact with other people who may be infected. Since such measures are impractical for the vast majority of people, and since one cannot be entirely sure whether another person is infected with the herpes virus, safe-sex practices and common sense are the best means of staying herpes-free. Condoms should always be used during sexual contact of any kind, including oral sex. It's also important to avoid skin-to-skin contact of genital areas with those who might be infected.

What Can I Do to Limit my Chances of Spreading Herpes?

  • For those who already have herpes there are many things that can mitigate the chances of spreading the infection. Always use condoms during sex. It's important to treat yourself with anti-viral drugs such as valaciclovir at the very onset of an outbreak and to avoid contact with others at all times during an outbreak. Even though you can spread genital herpes regardless of whether there's an outbreak occurring, during outbreaks the likelihood increases dramatically. So, during outbreaks try to remain abstinent and to be especially careful.

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