How can you get infected with herpes

Herpes is highly contagious. Here is a list of possibilities to get infected with herpes.

Direct contact – Close contact with an infected area of a person’s skin: Sex does not have to occur. You could simply be ‘spooning’ naked with an infected individual and still contract the herpes virus.

Sexual intercourse – Having sex with an infected person puts your skin in contact with the virus and makes it very likely for it to be transmitted. The more physical the act of sex the more likely transmission can occur. To be more direct, repeated “Bumping and grinding” causes the breaking of blisters and/or the skin to become red and irritated (this makes it more susceptible to infection).

This causes more virus to be shed from the infected person. These factors make the uninfected person more susceptible to contraction. However, do not be fooled, any contact whatsoever can easily transmit the virus.Oral sex – an infected person with a cold sore or fever blister that performs oral sex can transmit the virus to their partners genitals.Highest risk – When someone has an ‘outbreak’ or visible herpes blisters present on their mouth or genitalia region, this is when the most virus is shed and therefore substantially increase the risk of transmission. Remember, someone does NOT have to have visible herpes blisters/lesions/sores to transmit the herpes virus to others.

How can you get infected with herpesHSV (which causes genital herpes) is transmitted when the virus comes into contact with mucosal tissue (lining of vagina, lining of male urethra, eyes, mouth) or the broken skin of a susceptible host. Any break in the skin no matter how large or small puts you at a much higher risk of contracting HSV and subsequently herpes. People who have a compromised or weakened immune system (especially HIV/AIDS patients) are at higher risk to contract HSV if they are exposed.

Typically the virus is transmitted by direct contact. This is because the virus dies once it leaves the environment of its host. The virus is highly unlikely to survive in a dry environment at room temperature. However, there have been documented cases of the herpes virus being passed through contaminated surfaces and even underwear (especially if moist/damp).  It goes without saying but just as a point of reiteration, it is never a good idea to share someone’s unwashed underwear.

An increasing amount of genital infections are being caused by HSV-1 (recall that HSV-1 typically causes oral herpes). This is due to the rising popularity of oral sex.