Herpes Screening and HIV Risks

Question

Hi Doctor Bob,

I recently went to a campus health clinic, my personal physician, and Planned Parenthood to ask for a herpes blood test. All three places did not recommend a herpes test because they wouldn't do anything for treatment in the absence of symptoms.

According to the CDC and other research, 90% of people who have herpes don't know it. And having herpes puts people at risk for HIV transmission.

Should't I keep attempting to get a herpes blood test so I can avoid the risk of HIV transmission and avoid passing it onto others? Isn't knowing always better?

Please help. Thanks for all that you do.

Answer

Hi,

How would knowing whether you've had herpes in the past help you to "avoid the risk of HIV transmission and avoid passing it on to others"???? Knowing your herpes status does not prevent HIV transmission. Condoms prevent HIV transmission. I agree with the campus health clinic, your personal physician and Planned Parenthood. Being asymptomatic, whether you test positive for herpes or not, HIV transmission prevention remains exactly the same. Condoms. Condoms. Condoms.

The situation changes if you have an active herpetic outbreak. In that case the risk of HIV transmission would be increased as it would with any STD that causes sores, blisters or ulcers (such as syphilis, for example).

Dr. Bob