HSV & HIV
Oct 31, 2002
I am concerned, can herpes be transmitted from an infected person to an unifected person without symptoms? I mean if you have sex with someone and they dont have any visable sores can they still infect you or is that something that only happens rarely? I am thinking about this because I understand having Herpes makes you more likely to get HIV so your answer would be important to me.
Response from Mr. Kull
The theory of asymptomatic shedding goes like this:
When a person has a genital HSV (herpes simplex virus) infection, he might initially experience an outbreak of lesions at the point of infection. Then the virus travels up nerve pathways to the base of the spine where it remains "dormant". Certain events (that are not fully known, but possibly stress, immune suppression, sun exposure) can "activate" the virus, causing it to travel down the nerve pathways to the surface of the skin of the genital region. There, the virus might again cause a lesion (during the period before, during, and shortly after an outbreak, viral shedding does occur). In the case of asymptomatic shedding, the virus is near the skin's surface, and therefore is transmittable (shedding), but does not cause symptoms (asymptomatic).
Research suggests that asymptomatic shedding occurs on an average of 3 to 10 days a year. Shedding is more likely to occur during the first six months following initial infection, and a person who has a more severe course of illness (more outbreaks) may shed more than the average. In these cases, ongoing suppressive therapy can help.
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