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Author Topic: Herpes
Jill Valentine
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I'd like to know all the ways that oral/genital herpes could be transmitted NON-sexually.

Unfortunately I'm sharing the same roof with someone that I suspect has either HSV-1 or HSV-2 (99% sure) so I'd like to start taking precautions.

In terms of bodily contact, I don't do anything more than shake this person's hand or give them a quick hug, but they also have a nasty habit of coughing and not covering their mouth. I read somewhere that herpes could be spread through sneezing and coughing, but I'd rather trust you guys here than Google.

I just make sure to wash my hands every time I touch this person or touch something that they've touched. Am I correct in assuming that washing hands with just water is not very effective unless antibacterial soap is used?

Also, I picked up this line from a fairly reliable site on the internet:
quote:
Transmission of the virus via routes like sharing bed linen, clothing, towels, toilet seats, eating utensils, shared cups/glasses, and in public spas is less likely.
How likely is "less likely" with regards to the activities stated above? It sounds as if "less likely" doesn't mean "impossible"!
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Heather
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I'd say less likely is pretty darn close to impossible when you're talking about things where someone isn't putting their mouth, with an active sore, on something you're then putting your mouth on.

In other words, if it's not something they have had their mouth or genitals directly on, then it's not at all likely. But of course, for many more reasons than herpes transmission, we don't want to share stuff like that with people anyway.

I have never gotten or read any education around HSV that lists coughing or sneezing as a realistic mode of transmission.

In a word, HSV, of either type, tends to be spread by either direct contact between someone else's mucous membranes and your own (eyes, too) -- and most often only when there is an active sore -- or, less commonly, by something like sharing a cup someone with an active sore just used.

Antibacterial soap isn't needed for handwashing when it comes to protecting ourselves from germs (and in fact, there are a lot of reasons not to use it). Plain old warm or hot water and the most basic of soap does the job just fine, and antibacterial soap doesn't do it any better.

For more on that, see: http://www.scarleteen.com/article/body/the_simple_and_underrrated_art_of_washing_your_hands

(Oddly, your theme today seems to be the intersection between me and my mother. [Razz] )

That said, while regular handwashing is just good practice to stay healthy, I see no reason to wash your hands every time you touch this person or something they have touched for HSV prevention. They really can't transmit it to you just by touching you.

If you, however, feel like that's something you can't stop doing, or live in a lot of fear of, I'd say that given what you have said in your previous post and health/illness fears, it might be time to consult with a mental healthcare provider.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Heather
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Here's a couple links to explain my comments about antibacterial soaps, btw, in case you wondered:
• http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57582621/does-antibacterial-soap-cause-more-harm-than-good-fda-to-decide-after-four-decades/
• http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=117985&page=1#.UZWAF4Ls9DU

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill Valentine
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That's one heck of a useful guide. I never knew. Interestingly, my mother always warns that simple water is not enough. In fact, it only helps the germs stay alive, or so she says. I guess I can tell her she's wrong now.

I was kind of doubting that coughing/sneezing could spread herpes - just wanted to make sure. I can't for the life of me understand why I've heard this guy coughing for months now.

I appreciate that there has to be contact between a mucous membrane and the virus, but most sites just mention "skin-to-skin contact", so how about this situation?

Infected person touches their mouth or genitals (which has active sores) and then shakes your hand. You don't wash your hands but proceed immediately to rub your eyes or, say, lick your fingers. Would transmission be possible in this case?

Also, it's been said that transmission is just as likely even when the person has no symptoms. So, if they have no sores, how does the virus spread?

P.S. My health/illness fears are very much like a virus, if you'll excuse the metaphor. They will stay dormant for years and one day, out of the blue, I'll see/read/hear about something, maybe in the news or online, and it'll "flare up". Then I'll go through days of research, self-education, reason, logic and eventually get over it. [Razz]

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Jill Valentine
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Oh, thanks for the links. Interesting stuff.

The reason for my hand washing comment in the first post is because this house has basically been out of soap for more than two weeks now (yes, Walmart may only be next door, but I'm not the one who does the shopping and the people who do keep forgetting), the bathroom tap doesn't have hot water so I have pretty much nothing to keep my hands clean besides cold water and maybe the body wash, if that's a good substitute at all.

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Heather
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The trouble with the word skin is that it pretty much means everything keeping our insides on the inside, and all of that tissue isn't anything close to the same, especially when we're talking about viruses.

But when it comes to HSV, mucous membranes -- that's your mouth, your genitals, eyes and eyelids, nostrils and ears, per the mucosa we can get to from the outside -- really are the primary order of the day when it comes to transmission. So is someone actually having sores or having sores which are becoming active. Asymptomatic shedding is a way the virus can be transmitted, but that's understood to be rare. I don't know where you're reading that that's just as likely, but that isn't in alignment with any public health material on HSV.

If that person, in your example, had FIRST touched an active HSV sore, then yes, transmission would be possible. If they didn't have any active sores, or did, but hadn't touched them, then no.

[ 05-16-2013, 08:19 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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I'm heading out for the day, btw, but if you want a great place you can get more credible info on HSV, ASHA is that place: http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/std-sti/Herpes.html

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill Valentine
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People here were freaking out - we didn't even know this person had herpes and we've known him for months/years.

Thank you once again for the great information. Have a nice day out. [Smile]

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Heather
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Seriously, there's no need for anyone to be freaking out.

If you're all adults, you've likely already been exposed to HSV-1 by now, probably way more than once, and if you don't have it yet, you likely won't. And if he's got HSV-2, unless any of you are having sex with him, it's just not something you are realistically going to pick up from him.

Seriously, he's just got HSV (apparently). Not leprosy or ebola. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill Valentine
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I did some research and it's confirmed that oral herpes is far more common than genital, which led me to think maybe I've been exposed to the virus myself at some point.

I have a question, though. How likely are you to get genital herpes if someone with oral herpes gives you oral sex? I know that HSV-1 can also affect the genitals, which is not at all good considering how common oral herpes is.

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Jill Valentine
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By the way, I seriously wonder how anyone is supposed to know they've got herpes if, according to most sources, it presents mild to no symptoms most of the time.
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Robin Lee
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Well, a lot of people don't know. The people who know are the ones who've had symptoms severe enough that they've gotten them checked out by a healthcare practitioner, or who have gotten a positive result in a routine test.

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Robin

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Jill Valentine
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So sorry for the barrage of posts - I do wish there was an edit button. [Frown]

Most likely I will go in for a complete STD screening soon, including one for herpes, which I will definitely ask for. But I've read from the health service website here that "tests for herpes aren't usually done unless you have sores on your genitals", so would they refuse to do a herpes blood test for me if they see I have nothing on my genitals? Can I ask for one anyway even if I've never had any serious symptoms that would make me suspect I've been infected?

It's just for peace of mind. [Frown]

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Heather
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Jill: did you check out the info about the oral/genital question you're asking over at that ASHA page/section I linked you to? They do address that kind of transmission there.

To the degree they can, anyway. I know you feel uncomfortable with the uncertainty that surrounds all things bodies, but it is what it is. All of our bodies are so different, we can just only account for this stuff so much. One person's immune system and health at a given time can be so drastically different from someone else's that both people can be exposed to HSV-1 genitally, and one person can acquire it right away, just that one time, while the other, even with constant exposure, will never acquire it.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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(There is an edit button, btw. Users can only delete -- per removing the content of a post -- or edit posts within 180 minutes, but within that time frame, everyone has that ability.)

[ 05-17-2013, 09:56 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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You can ask for a blood test, btw. Your clinic just may tell you it's not necessary if you have never had outbreaks AND don't have any health conditions that would make either type of HSV dangerous for you.

And if it's something you're looking to have public health or insurance cover, they may not be willing to cover that kind of test IF you don't have a health condition that would make HSV an earnest threat to your health.

[ 05-17-2013, 10:01 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill Valentine
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If I did have it, I'd be more concerned about transmitting it to my partner than what it'd do to my health, seeing as I've never had any sores or blisters that are typical of HSV.

I'm based in the UK so I'm sure a blood test would be covered by the health care system here. I'm surprised though, that a clinic wouldn't recommend testing to someone with no symptoms? With herpes being so common and infectious, and often with few to no symptoms present, I would've thought routine testing is offered to everyone.

P.S. Never noticed the edit button there since it's an icon. Oops. [Razz]

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Heather
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I'm not sure if it would or wouldn't be (as I recall, it usually isn't, and NHS/GUM clinics only test when there are known or suspected outbreaks or other symptoms), but a call into your local clinic should answer that for you.

Why blood testing isn't recommended as a general rule is that as a general rule, Herpes isn't actually dangerous for most people who have it, just annoying. (In other words, in some ways, it'd kind of be like testing people for a typical flu virus, if you follow me: most people with a flu will do just fine, and, like with the flu, there's no treatment for it per making it go away.)

Blood testing for HSV is also expensive, as I understand it, and only so much more accurate than simply screening by visual exams or people's reports of known or suspected outbreaks. And again, since there's really nothing anyone can do about it, save the medications to reduce the occurrence of outbreaks, I'd say routine blood testing for everyone would be mighty hard to justify in public or private health.

[ 05-17-2013, 10:14 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill Valentine
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Even if it weren't free, I wouldn't mind paying for a blood test if it could banish these "what if" questions from my mind.

Counting just kissing and oral sex, I've already had 5 partners in my lifetime. Most of them were virgins and probably at least 2 of them had never kissed anyone before me. Realistically, would you say herpes is something I should worry about?

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Heather
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Just FYI, given you're outside the age group we're primarily here to serve, I really need to wind our conversations down so we can put other things and younger users first.

Realistically, I'd say HSV-1 is something most people contract, if they do, in childhood and not through sexual activity, but through general affectionate friend and family contact. Realistically, most of us were probably exposed via family or friends by the time we reached our teens.

So, at your age, if you don't already have HSV, and have never seen anything that looks like an outbreak, you can be pretty darn sure you not only don't have it, but probably also won't acquire it at this point.

[ 05-17-2013, 11:15 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill Valentine
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Alright, thanks a bunch. [Smile]
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Heather
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Sure thing. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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