Lowering your risk of herpes

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:49 pm
Preventing the spread of herpes is a challenging task because so far, there's no vaccine against it and no cure for those already infected. Oral herpes in particular is difficult to control since casual contact like kissing, sharing towels or cups, or secretions from a cough can transmit the virus. To reduce the chance of contracting oral herpes, or HSV-1, (H-S-V one), wash your hands regularly, keep laundry and dishes clean, make sure used tissues are disposed of promptly, and never kiss on or near a cold sore. Genital herpes, or HSV-2 (H-S-V two), is spread primarily through intercourse and oral sex, though any skin-to-skin contact can cause infection. Since HSV-2 lesions may exist outside the genitals, condoms aren't necessarily a protection against the disease. Furthermore, the virus can be spread and transmitted even when active lesions aren't present. Thus, the only sure way to avoid acquiring HSV-2 is to practice abstinence or remain in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. Otherwise, you can lower your risk of genital herpes by limiting your number of sexual partners, always using a condom, and abstaining from sex with anyone who has herpes symptoms. In addition, spermicide foams, gels, or films may have some action against the virus, though the degree of protection, if any, is unknown.

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