Genital Herpes Prevention

The key to stopping the spread of HSV 2 is understanding genital herpes prevention. The herpes simplex virus is spread only through skin-to-skin contact or mucous membrane contact. Common occurrences of skin-to-skin contact that result in the spread of the virus include penile-vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, oral-genital sex, and other sexual body-to-body contact.

To reduce the risk of transmitting genital herpes, people who have the virus should avoid sexual contact from the time they first feel any symptoms until their lesions are completely healed. During periods when there are no signs of an outbreak, genital herpes prevention is still advisable. Latex condoms offer significant protection against the spread of HSV 2 to women. However, because the effected area of a woman can be so wide, using a condom does not necessarily protect a man as well as a woman. It's important to note that lambskin or other natural membrane condoms should not be used for genital herpes prevention because naturally occurring pores in the material are large enough to allow some viruses to pass through. The FDA recommends latex condoms or polyurethane condoms for those sensitive to latex.

Despite common misconceptions, genital herpes is not transmitted through the air. Also, there are no documented cases of a person getting genital herpes from an inanimate object such as a toilet seat, body towel, or hot tub. In fact, the herpes virus does not do well in chlorinated water. Though it may be present in a hot tub, it won't be active. It is advised, though, that individuals should avoid sharing razors, especially with someone who has an active cold sore or outbreak to insure genital herpes prevention. Also, other viruses, such as hepatitis C, can be transmitted by sharing razors. Spreading herpes from one part of the body to another (auto-inoculation) is possible, but unusual. To be safe, individuals should wash their hands with soap if they touch a herpes sore.

Treatment is also key to genital herpes prevention. The first drug developed to treat genital herpes was Zovirax (acyclovir) and was approved in 1985. This drug is now available in generic form and is an inexpensive option for individuals who do not have insurance. More recently, Famvir and Valtrex have been approved to treat genital herpes. All three of these drugs can be taken episodically (during an outbreak or at the first sign of a potential outbreak) or suppressively (daily to help prevent recurrence of outbreaks). Individuals with genital herpes should discuss these options with their physician to determine what treatment is best.

The key to stopping the spread of HSV 2 is understanding genital herpes prevention. The herpes simplex virus is spread only through skin-to-skin contact or mucous membrane contact. Common occurrences of skin-to-skin contact that result in the spread of the virus include penile-vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, oral-genital sex, and other sexual body-to-body contact.

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