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Genital Herpes - Environment Protection

What do I need to think about to protect my environment when I have genital herpes?

As long as the blisters remain, there is infectious virus. So avoid unprotected sex. The only way to protect yourself or your partner from asymptomatic shedding is to always have protected sex.

If you or your long-term partner has genital herpes, counseling may help to determine whether HSV type-specific analysis of your serum by Western Blot would be useful to determine whether one or both of you have been infected with HSV-1 and/or HSV-2. Because of the increased awareness of the escalating incidence of genital and neonatal herpes, and the association between HSV infection and an increased risk of acquiring HIV, every effort should be made to prevent HSV-2 infections. Educational efforts are being developed for adolescents and adults at greatest risk. The use of condoms is strongly promoted.

For couples in a long term relationship, there is the possibility to test for HSV-2 antibodies in you and your partner. Approximately 70% of infections are sexually transmitted to the seronegative partner when the infected individual asymptomatically sheds virus. The presence of anti-HSV1 antibodies is partially protective against HSV-2 infection.

Genital herpes and Pregnancy

How do I protect my baby if I have genital herpes at the time of delivery?

There are recent Canadian guidelines for the medical management of mothers with genital herpes If the mother has primary genital herpes at the time of delivery, cesarean section is indicated. If a mother with known genital herpes has an eruption in the genital area at the time of delivery, cesarean section is recommended although the risk for neonatal herpes in much lower in this scenario. A mother with a known history of genital herpes but no lesions at the time of delivery may deliver vaginally.