#HLWDK Daily Health Tips: Avoiding Infection With Herpes Simplex Virus

Q: Hello Dr., please help. My boyfriend has been having blisters and I think it’s genital herpes but he does not want to talk about it. what can I do to not get infected because we don’t use protection?

A: Hallos! Thanks for writing in.

The very first thing that I’m in a hurry to spill out is that you’ve got to use protection, otherwise you will get infected. There is no cure for this but if your boyfriend goes on medications, the chances of infecting you are greatly reduced. Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) and the main way that the virus is spread is through sexual contact.

Another point to note on HSV….

Cold sores (also known as fever blisters) are also caused by HSV. They typically occur around the mouth or under the nose. The interesting thing about it is that after the initial infection, the virus can lie dormant in the body and then be reactivated several times a year. So, there may be recurrence in people who have had them when they have another infection like a respiratory tract infection, fever, injury to affected area, are emotionally upset, fatigued etc.

Fever blisters can cause pain in the mouth and the pain associated with this condition is worse when hot, spicy or acidic foods like lemon are taken. These sores are contagious but most times clear up without the need for medication within 7 to 10 days. Sometimes, antiviral drugs are administered. Local anesthetic drugs may help reduce the pain of the sores.

Cold sores in rare cases can also occur due to oral sex with someone who has genital herpes. This risk of contracting infections through oral sex is increased in the presence of already existing Sexually Transmitted Infections, mouth ulcers, bleeding gums and sores in the genital area.

This risk of infections through oral sex may be reduced by the use of barriers like condoms and avoiding ejaculation in the mouth. Use of pre-exposure drugs (prescribed for people at risk of HIV infection) and ensuring that anti-retroviral drugs (drugs used for the treatment of HIV) are being used correctly by partners who are HIV positive may also reduce risk of HIV infection through oral sex.

Generally for STIs, remember the ABCs. Abstain…which is always the best bet if you’re not married, be faithful to one partner (who is hopefully being faithful to you) or use condoms.

I hope this helps

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