• Not necessarily. Herpes can be caught by skin contact. Herpes sores can be anywhere - thighs, testicles, penis, vagina, finger tips etc..... So, a condom might not protect you, particularly if the sores can not be covered easily.
  • What Little_Piggy says is true. I believe the 'average protection factor' that condoms offer against herpes is usually quoted at about 40% for genital to genital contact as a maximum (regardless of all other forms of contact which might expsoe you to the virus). For men with a female partner, this is significantly less - while most men do get outbreaks on the head and shaft of the penis which are covered by a condom, women tend to get outbreaks on the vulva, which is not covered by a condom. Some specialist doctors say that condoms may only offer a 0-20% rate of protection for men if their female partner is infected - maybe no protection at all. Plus, the most common way to catch genital herpes in the UK now - 70% of cases - is oral to genital transmission through receiving oral sex from a partner with oral herpes hsv-1. This is especially true for women, since use of dental dams during oral sex is extremely uncommon. Symptoms do not have to be present on the mouth to pass the virus. A lot of people believe that hsv-1 will not pass to the genitals because it 'does not like to be on the genitals' being an oral virus. Actually, it is as likely to infect the genitals as hsv-2 given the opportunity - it is not difficult to pass from the mouth to the genitals at all. However, a typical genital hsv-1 infection will produce fewer outbreaks and be less infectious than an hsv-2 infection.
  • Yes but there is still quite a risk involved.
  • Condoms are better than nothing, but not good enough. Condoms plus the infected partner on acyclovir is better, but there's still risk. Even having sex only when there are no lesions is risky, because the virus lurks even when the skin looks fine. So the only real way not to get it is to keep your clothes on. If you and your partner are serious about each other, though, you might just have to each accept the risk. I'll go out on a limb and say that if you're crazy for each other and want to stay together for a long time, then get tested for other STIs (don't forget the 6-month window period for HIV), get some birth control pills, then throw out the condoms AND the acyclovir and get on with life.

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