Myths about herpes have been long-lived, undoubtedly spawned during ancient times.  We’re here to present the facts about herpes and unwind the myths.

Here are the facts.

  • Herpes simplex virus type 2 or HSV-2 is a chronic infection that can cause genital sores.
  • Evidence has shown that it can make those infected with genital herpes 2 to 3 times more likely to acquire HIV if exposed.
  • 16% of the U.S. population has genital herpes, many of whom are unaware they’re infected.
  • It’s estimated that more than 80 percent of the people who have genital herpes are undiagnosed and may be passing the virus to others unknowingly.
  • The only way to know if you are infected with genital herpes is to get tested.

Here are the myths:

Myth #1 Once you have herpes, you’ll have itchy rashes forever.
Not true. You may have an outbreak of itchy sores, but it does go away. Some people get occasional outbreaks. And some people live with herpes without any signs, itching or symptoms at all.

Myth #2 You can catch herpes from toilet seats.
It’s highly unlikely. The microorganisms that cause genital herpes can’t survive outside the human body on a surface like a toilet seat for very long.

Myth #3 If your partner gets herpes, he or she must be cheating.
Don’t jump to conclusions on this one. Your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse may have been infected for years and not have known it due to mild or no symptoms.

Myth #4 People with herpes can’t give blood.
According to the American Red Cross, people with genital or oral herpes may donate blood as long as they’re feeling healthy and don’t have any other restricted infections.

Myth #5 People get herpes from sleeping with too many people.
While having unprotected sex with multiple partners raises your risk for contracting an STD, it only takes one unsafe exposure to contract genital herpes.  Having herpes is so common.  It doesn’t say anything about a person’s promiscuity.

Myth #6 You can’t have sex again if you have herpes.
Of course you can have sex again if you have herpes.  There are ways to manage outbreaks and ways to protect from transmitting the virus.  It’s not a life sentence of celibacy.

Myth #7 My doctor routinely screens me for herpes.
No she doesn’t.  There are no current guidelines for routine herpes testing.  If you want a herpes test, you need to ask for one.

Myth #8 You can’t get herpes from oral sex.
Herpes is spread from skin to skin contact.  Even if your partner isn’t having an outbreak, it’s possible to transmit the virus.  Unless you’re using a condom or dental dam during oral sex, you’re not practicing safer sex.

Myth #9 It’s shameful to have herpes.
This is the myth we’d most like to bust.  Herpes is incredibly common.  Let’s stop stigmatizing this common virus.

Myth #10 When you have herpes, you know it.
80% of people living with herpes don’t know they have it.  Symptoms may not appear or can be very subtle.  The only way to know if you have herpes is to get tested.  If you’d like to know if your status, get tested today.  We can help.