Your Partner Has Herpes and You Don’t: What Can You Do to Prevent Transmission?

a doctor's prescription pad
Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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Doctors are commonly asked how to keep from spreading genital herpes from one partner who has it, to another who doesn’t, even without lesions.

Asymptomatic (no sores) shedding of Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is known to occur. This means you can transmit HSV without having actual sores on your genitals—but you can take action to prevent transmission.

Let me start out by saying three important things:

  1. Condoms are the best way to prevent transmission.
  2. If you have an active sore on your genitals, don’t have sex until it clears.
  3. Most of what we know comes from studies on folks with HSV type 2 (HSV-2) so we assume it’s the same as with HSV-1 but there is no science behind that yet.
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Here are the main things to know about reducing the risk of transmitting HSV from an infected person to a non-infected partner:

Hope this helps.

Dr O.

Once-daily valacyclovir to reduce the risk of transmission of genital herpes.N Engl J Med. 2004 Jan 1;350(1):11-20.

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