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HSV-1 Can Still Be Spread Even When There Are No Symptoms

  • herpes
  • oral sex
  • hsv-1
  • std transmission
  • symptoms
  • protection

Question:

"If I had type 1 herpes on my genitals and have oral or unprotected sex, will my partner contract the disease? Can they get the STD even if I’m not experiencing an outbreak at the time?"

- Anonymous

Response:

This is a very good and important question. The short answer is, “Yes.” Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be spread even in the absence of physical symptoms (blisters, ulcers, and sores).  

To read the STDAware resource on the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2, click here.

Viral shedding is when HSV-1 is most contagious and usually results in the presence of an active “outbreak,” or “flare.”  Transmission occurs when skin-to-skin contact of a mucous membrane (such as penis, vagina, labia, anus, rectum, mouth, throat, and eyes) comes into contact with infected skin.

Asymptomatic viral shedding is when the herpes virus is passed in the absence of physical ulcers, or sores (medically referred to as vesicles) but the virus is still active in the skin (at or around the original points of infection).  Asymptomatic shedding most commonly occurs in the days leading up to a symptomatic outbreak and the days shortly after an outbreak starts to clear, but can also occur at multiple and random times throughout an infected person's life. 

Viral shedding can be activated by a variety of triggers which can range from physical or emotional stress, local trauma, fever or illness that result in an overworked immune system, immunosuppressant therapy, exposure to ultraviolet light, or hormonal shifts and imbalances. Overall wellness and support should be a priority for individuals managing a herpes infection, and the chronic and asymptomatic nature of a herpes infection should be controlled more than any individual or acute episode or outbreak.

In short, HSV-1 can infect a sexual partner even when no physical symptoms are present. Safe sex practices and condom use should be exercised to avoid the spread of an HSV-1 infection.

The Only Way To Know If You Have An STD Is To Get Tested

If your partner is concerned that they might have contracted HSV-1 from you, the only way to know for sure is to get tested.

STDAware offers an HSV-1 specific testing option as well as full panel and other individual STD testing options. 

Customer services representatives are available to speak with you about your testing options and will be happy to answer any questions.


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