To avoid getting herpes, you should always follow safe sexual practices. Limit your number of sexual partners, and always use condoms unless you are in a monogamous relationship with an uninfected person.
People with genital herpes should abstain from sexual activity when they have symptoms. They also should tell all sex partners about their herpes infection and use condoms during sexual activity. Even without symptoms, the virus can be shed and transmitted.
Pregnant women who have visible ulcers from genital herpes at the time of delivery usually are encouraged to have a Caesarean section to prevent HSV from spreading to the newborn. Because the decision to have a Caesarean section is based on many factors, a pregnant woman with HSV infection should discuss the subject with her physician as early as possible in her pregnancy.
People with genital herpes are more likely to become infected with HIV if they are exposed through sexual intercourse. If you have HIV and you are infected with HSV-2, you may be more likely to spread HIV to others.
Episodes of genital herpes can be treated with oral antiviral medications, including acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir) and valacyclovir (Valtrex). These medications do not cure the herpes infection. They can shorten the duration of skin symptoms, but they are used most often to prevent symptoms from returning or to make recurrences less severe. Among infected newborns, the disease is treated with an antiviral medication given intravenously (directly into a vein).