Lots of people ask me how likely it is that they will either contract or transmit a genital herpes (HSV 2) infection to a sexual partner, so I thought I would address that in today’s blog.
The first tool in reducing transmission rates is knowing whether herpes is even in a relationship! If two people have no idea that one of them is infected, they can’t begin to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection because they don’t know there is anything to be concerned about! So testing for genital herpes is the first step – finding out who is infected and who is not.
Let’s say you have an infected male and an uninfected female. If they avoid sex during outbreaks, don’t use condoms regularly, and don’t take antiviral therapy every day, the risk of tranmission is about 10% per year. But if you add condoms, it reduces transmission about about 50%, if he takes Valtrex 500 mg once a day, he can reduce transmission also by about 50%. So you can see that the numbers get very low!
If it is a woman infected with HSV 2 having sex with an uninfected male, given the circumstances listed above again, then the transmission rate is about 4% prior to the interventions of condoms and Valtrex.
Which interventions are appropriate and desirable are decisions that individual couples makes, based on concerns about infection.
I hope this is helpful for those of you wondering about how likely it is that you might infect someone else or get infected yourself.