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Genital Herpes

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Transmission

If you have genital herpes infection, you can easily pass or transmit the virus to an uninfected partner during sex.

Most people get genital herpes by having sex with someone who is shedding the herpes virus either during an outbreak or an asymptomatic (without symptoms) period. People who do not know they have herpes play an important role in transmission, because they are unaware they can infect a sexual partner.

You can transmit herpes through close contact other than sexual intercourse. For example, you can get herpes through oral sex or close skin-to-skin contact with a person who is infected.

The virus is spread rarely, if at all, by objects such as a toilet seat or hot tub.

Reduce your risk of spreading genital herpes

If you're infected with herpes, you should follow a few simple steps to avoid spreading the infection to other places on your body or to other people.

  • Avoid touching the infected area during an outbreak, and wash your hands after contact with that area.
  • Do not have sexual contact (vaginal, oral, or anal) from the time of your first genital symptoms until your symptoms are completely gone.

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Last Updated January 26, 2011