Cincinnati HELP

Ask us: Who gets herpes?


Who gets genital herpes?

Some people have a misconception that only promiscuous people get herpes and other STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). The truth is, anyone who is sexually active can contract it. If you are sexually active, whether and when you are exposed to herpes is purely a matter of random chance. If you have sex with a person who has genital herpes and who is shedding the virus at the time, you are exposed to it. The same thing is true if you have oral sex with someone who has an active outbreak of cold sores.

It doesn't matter whether this person is your hundredth sex partner or your first. It doesn't matter whether you think that this person is wild, or sweet, virtuous and nice. It doesn't matter whether it happens in a brief fling or with your spouse. The virus does not possess moral judgment; it neither knows or cares whether you are "good" or "bad". All that matters is that it is present on the surface of one person's skin, and that skin comes into direct contact with another person's skin.

At least as many people who contracted herpes from their spouses or other long-term partners pass through our support group as those who caught it from casual sex. Indeed, we have even seen people who contracted herpes the very first time they ever had sex. On the other hand, we know of many people who have had sex with many partners without getting herpes.

So, having herpes is not evidence of your behavior or your character. It's just a virus. It's just cold sores on another part of the body. If you have it, not need not feel ashamed. If you don't, but know someone who does, you are doing him or her a grave injustice if you let that fact affect your opinion of them. Almost anyone can get it.