Herpes - genital; Herpes simplex - genital; Herpesvirus 2; HSV-2
The best way to avoid getting genital herpes is to avoid all sexual contact, including oral sex. Next best is being in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with someone who has been tested and is not, and never has been, infected with herpes.
Condoms remain the best way to protect against catching genital herpes during sexual activity with someone who is infected. Using a condom correctly and consistently will help prevent the spread of the disease.
- Only latex condomes will work to prevent infection. Animal membrane (sheepskin) condoms won't work because the virus can go right through them.
- The female condom has been tested and shown to reduce the risk of trasmitting herpes, as well.
- A latex condom should be used during ALL sexual contact, even if the infected person does not have any sores or blisters at that time.
In addition, people with genital herpes who don't have any current symptoms should tell their partner that they have the disease.
Vaccines against herpes have been developed but are still experimental.
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Cerink C, Gallina K, Brodell RT. The treatment of herpes simplex infections: an evidence-based review. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(11):1137-44.
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Lebrun-Vignes B, Bouzamondo A, Dupuy A, Guillaume JC, Lechet P, Chosidow O. A meta-analysis to assess the efficacy of oral antiviral treatment to prevent genital herpes outbreaks. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007;57(2):238-46.
Review Date: 05/09/2011
Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, WA; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine (9/13/2009).