Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can you get herpes if you kiss someone?"
If someone has genital herpes can you get it from kissing them. If they have genital herpes does it mean they also have it in their mouth too?
Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus types one and two (HSV1, HSV2) and is a very common infection among sexually active adults. HSV1 and HSV2 typically cause a local reaction which causes cold sores around the mouth and herpes around the genitals. The virus is spread from contact with sores at the site of infection, though even normal looking. People with one type of HSV infection are not more likely to have the other, which means that having genital herpes does not increase the chance that someone also has herpes gingivostomatitis (cold sores). However, having one type of herpes infection does increase the chances that the second infection will not result in symptoms, though the virus can still be spread. So the short answer to your question is that if someone has genital herpes this does not increase the chances that he or she has oral herpes, but does increase the likelihood that if he or she does have it they won’t know about it. Unfortunately, this means it is quite difficult to say one way or another if kissing will result in transmission of herpes, but the good news is that the likelihood of transmission is greatly decreased in the absence of cold sores. And when cold sores are present treatment is available to decrease the length of time they are present. You should talk with your primary care physician more about ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections. Good luck!
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