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Myths and Facts About Herpes


September 25, 2018 | Published by

There are many common misconceptions regarding both the HSV-1 and HSV-2 virus, which is commonly known as herpes. Today we’re going to shed some light on the myths surrounding the virus and look into what people can do to prevent spreading the virus, as well as limiting breakouts.

Myth: Only sexually promiscuous people get herpes.
Fact: Someone only needs to have sex once to be at risk of genital herpes. HSV-1 (oral) can be spread by sharing a beverage or non-sexual skin to skin contact.

Myth: Herpes only affects the genital area.
Fact: While it mostly affects the mouth and genital area, herpes is a skin infection that can actually occur on other parts of the body as well.

Myth: Herpes causes cervical cancer.
Fact: Anomalies in the cervix are caused by HPV (Human Papillomavirus), not HSV, (Herpes Simplex Virus).

Myth:  A herpes test is usually part of a routine sexual health check.
Fact: A standard health check will usually test blood for HIV and syphilis, as well as a swab test for chlamydia. Doctors test herpes by swabbing from an active blister, as the infection is easiest to diagnose most accurately when it is still active. According to the NHS, tests for herpes aren’t usually done unless you have actual sores.

Myth: Herpes can affect your fertility.
Fact: Unlike chlamydia and gonorrhea, herpes has no affect on fertility. Zane Brown, MD, an expert on neonatal herpes, says, “Compared to all the other possible risks in a pregnancy, the risk of neonatal herpes is extremely small.” According to the American Sexual Health Association, only 0.1 per cent of babies born in the U.S will get neonatal herpes, and 25-30 per cent of women have the genital version of the virus. While it’s only a skin condition, it can be harmful to infants, so you should tell your doctor if you’re pregnant and have genital herpes.

Myth: Herpes can be passed through blood.
Fact: Herpes is not present in the blood, so both genital and oral herpes can only be passed through direct skin-to-skin contact.

Myth: There is a cure for herpes.
Fact: While there is no cure for herpes, there are supplements that contain L-Lysine, an amino acid which enhances immune response and can limit the number of outbreaks.

Myth: It is possible to pass herpes from my mouth to my genitals by touching myself.
Fact: Since your body develops antibodies that prevent this from happening, it is rare to transfer herpes from one site to another.

Myth: It is risky to spend a lot of time around someone that has herpes.
Fact: Since the virus dies when it leaves living skin cells, sharing communal facilities does not put someone ask risk of catching herpes. Using the same toilets, washing machines, and showers are all possible without spreading the virus.

Myth: Herpes is a rare disease, and I’d know if I had it.
Fact: Up to 80% of the population has the herpes virus, and since symptoms can be very mild, it’s possible to not even know you have it. Half of people that get herpes actually get it from partners who are unaware they have it.

Myth: Cold sores are not spreadable to the genitals.
Fact: Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1), commonly know as cold sores, can cause genital herpes through oral sex. In fact, up to 40% of genital herpes is cause by HSV-1.

Myth: A person with herpes is always infectious.
Fact: While a person is not showing symptoms of herpes is not typically infectious, the virus can occasionally be shed from skin-to-skin contact while symptoms are not present.


Genital Herpes – CDC Fact Sheet.

“Myths and Facts About Herpes.” The New Zealand Herpes Foundation.

“8 Herpes Myths That Need to Be Debunked Immediately.” Metro News UK. October 30, 2015.

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