Dr. Tom answers questions about herpes

Do you have any questions or concerns about what Herpes is, how it's spread, about the virus itself?
Receive advice from Dr. Tom Neblett, a Doctor who has devoted much of his life to the study of viruses and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

What is IGG and IGM?


The girl who I`m dating just confronted me and says she has Herpes.
Itís not active and says she received it orally. We have not had sex,
but we do have oral sex, I go down on her and she goes down on
me. Am I at risk?

I really like the girl, but is it worth the risk. From my understanding
there is not a cure. If we did have sex...would a condom be enough

Thank you for the advice.

Dr Tom's reply...

Dear Darrel:

If the lady has herpes, she can become infectious to others. If she
contracted herpes orally, she most likely has acquired type
HSV-1. If she performs fellatio upon you, yes, you are at risk. Once
the herpes virus has infected the human body, the virus will remain
even deep within the body, forever. Many herpetic persons may be
asymptomatic but are still capable of transmitting the virus. Hence,
the infectious pathway can follow from her mouth to your penis. If 
you have not already acquired your infection, you should follow barrier
protection and use a condom. The primeval mechanism to prevent 
transmission from a source to a target is to apply a barrier. That should apply to the vagina or to the penis.

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        Is it possible to get herpes from hugging someone? 

Dr Tom's reply...

Dear Anonymous:

NO!  Hugging someone in the manner we are all most accustomed to is 
not a means to transmit herpes. HSV is transmitted most commonly through warm, 
moist, mucous membranes and tissues, ie., genital tract, eyes, anus, et. al.  
HSV is not airborne.  Hugging of nude bodies where one has herpetic lesions, 
however, would be a most likely way to pass the infection.  Herpes and another 
member of the pox virus group have been known to be transmitted between 
wrestlers` sweaty bodies.

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Can one develop multiple cold sores or multiple genital infection sites
 through continued contact or self infection?  I can see risking a single 
infection to build a relationship with a wonderful woman, but a lifetime of 
caution and spreading infections seems daunting.  Not kissing/whatever for a 
couple weeks a year is managable, but if in 30 years it progresses to months, 
I`d be sad.

On a Brink

Dr Tom's reply...

Dear On a Brink, Herpetic infections can spread from one portion of the body to another, for example, from an active genital lesion to the eyes by one`s own hands. Likewise, the herpes virus capable of causing cold sores can be passed to a non-infected person by kissing. This is why loving relatives are sometimes asked not to kiss infants. Withholding intimacy from one`s loved partner is, as you said, `manageable`, during the duration of an outbreak by one partner or the other. I know of no evidence to suggest that each intimate contact between partners, where one or both are infected, carries with it the threat of compounding the extent of lesions, and thereby, the length of privation.
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Though I have never had an outbreak since the initial one, I want to 
thoroughly protect my present, uninfected partner.  I have become aware
that a women can be active without symptoms and thus spread the virus 
through bodily fluids.  A condom alone could not protect spreading 
if she secretes heavily.  How protective would a condom plus nonoxynol-9 
gel or jelly be ????  

Thank you for your time.  It is much appreciated.

Dr Tom's reply...

Dear CC: 

Nonoxynol-9 is a spermicide that has been shown to have anti-HSV 
activity under laboratory conditions.  A condom provides a barrier 
between a source of the virus and its possible recipient, but as you 
acknowledged, is fallible.  A search of the literature on my part might 
turn up a clinical study in which this prophylactic anti-HSV combination 
has been evaluated.  We should communicate again on this.  
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