Herpes is an interesting infection because it has a certain stigma attached to it. Many people get cold sores on their lips and this is an active infection. There is no shame attached to this infection, but genital herpes, which is just a cold sore that is located in a different place on the body, has a negative connotation to it. People cannot predict when their herpes infection will become contagious and it can occur in anyone, no matter what their background may be. These interesting facts about herpes might help to dispel some additional myths about this virus.
1. HSV-1 Is More Dangerous Than You Think
The cold sores that you may get on your lips might seem mild, and in most cases it is, but this version of the herpes virus can also lead to severe health complications. It has been known to have spontaneous outbreaks in the eye and can lead to blindness. HSV-1 has also been known to spontaneously infect the brain and cause encephalitis. It can also infect fingers, the chest, and other areas of the face.
2. It Has Many Disguises
About 60% of the people who are carrying the herpes virus have symptoms that don’t fit into the classic symptom profile, so they don’t recognize that they have an infection of the virus. Another 20% of people who have active herpes infections, including genital herpes, don’t display any signs or symptoms whatsoever. This means that only 2 out of 10 people who have an active herpes infection are actually aware of this fact.
3. It Doesn’t Affect Fertility
Herpes is not going to stop someone from getting pregnant and men can still contribute to a pregnancy with an active infection. Herpes does not affect a person’s fertility whatsoever. Infants can become infected with the virus, however, if the mother has an active infection at the time of birth. If you have a history of herpes infections and an active infection is displayed at the time of labor, many doctors today will recommend a C-Section to avoid transmitting the virus to the child.
4. Herpes Doesn’t Penetrate the Skin
You’re not going to get a herpes infection by sitting on a public toilet. The virus is actually very fragile and doesn’t have much of a life when it comes off of a person. It dries out when it is exposed to air. For a skin to skin transmission, someone with an active sore would need to have surface contact to drop the virus and then another person with an open wound would need to place that wound at the same location where the virus was left on a surface.
5. It Doesn’t Have to Be Active
In a recent study, 70% of the people who have an infection of HSV-1 or HSV-2 got the virus from someone who didn’t have an active infection. The virus can spread even when someone isn’t experiencing an outbreak. This is why practicing safe sex when not in a monogamous long-term relationship is important, but it isn’t a guarantee. Condoms aren’t 100% effective in preventing the transmission of herpes because they may not cover all of the areas where the virus might be present.