The SHIELD Project is proud to launch our #HerpesAwareness campaign. Herpes simplex virus is incredibly common and spreads through skin to skin contact.
Herpes simplex virus is incredibly common. There are two types of herpes- HSV-1 & HSV-2. The World Health Organization estimates 3.7 billion people under age 50 live with HSV-1. About 1 in 5 adults live with HSV-2. Herpes can spread through skin to skin contact between an infected area & an uninfected area.
Many people who have herpes won’t have symptoms & may not know they have it. Although HSV-2 is primarily associated with genital herpes, both types can present as sores in the mouth, anal or genital regions. An outbreak of herpes might cause itchiness along with painful sores & blisters. The sores usually go away on their own, but you will still have the virus.
Condoms & dental dams can help lower the risk of herpes spread. However, it’s recommended to avoid sex during outbreaks or if you feel a burning or tingling sensation but have no sores. It’s also important to get tested for STBBIs regularly if you’re sexually active. A test can confirm the presence of HSV or other STBBIs.
To spread herpes, an area of the body that is susceptible (able to be infected) must come in contact with an area of the body that is already infected. That could be through kissing, oral sex, penetrative sex or by touching an infected part of the body before touching an uninfected body part. Mutual masturbation (partners touching their own bodies without touching one another’s bodies) is a safer sex option to avoid spread.
Herpes is a recurrent, chronic infection; but it is a manageable condition. Sores will heal & you can have a fulfilling sex life. Treatment can help by reducing the duration and severity of herpes outbreaks. From Ella Dawson, sex and culture critic: “Herpes is not a reflection of your character or a consequence of a bad decision. It is an inevitability of being a human being who comes into skin contact with other human beings.” Practice safer sex and get tested regularly!
There’s so much you to learn about navigating herpes and relationships! You can check out our sources here: