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Sexual health series: Herpes

Ariane Gacionis
2 min readDec 14, 2021


I am no medical advice giver or doctor, this series is intended to give a basic understanding of various topics in regards to sexual health.

These topics can be triggering for some readers as they may discuss sexual violence, please proceed with caution.


Herpes, both oral and genital, are easily transmittable, however, in the case of genital herpes, the virus often does not show symptoms and when we get tested, herpes is a different test and is not included in the general std tests done by the clinic unless asked (whether you are getting tested via urine or blood work).

There are two types of herpes, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) transmitted orally and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), transmitted via sexual contact.

Debunking stigmatization

Due to the intense stigmatization existing towards herpes, many individuals are not aware of how common it is, completely misunderstand the infection and will judge those who have the virus.

Judgement goes far, from assuming the person did not take enough precaution in previous sexual intercourse, to slutshaming.

Using a condom will not lessen the risk of transmition of herpes. As herpes can spread easily without any symptoms, it is very common for individuals to be infected even after having very few sexual partners.

Most studies show that condoms reduce the risk of herpes transmission by 30 to 50%.


Oral herpes is known as the typical cold sores or fever blisters we all get at least once in our childhood or adulthood. This infection comes from non-sexual contact with saliva. It can be spread through kissing, toothbrushing, and utensils.

Nevertheless, if an adult with oral herpes engages in oral sexual activities, HSV-1 can be spread.


In the United States, more than one out of every six people aged 14 to 49 years have genital herpes.

Genital herpes can be spread through various ways, including

  1. a herpes sore;
  2. saliva from someone with oral herpes;
  3. genital secretions from someone with genital herpes;
  4. skin infections in the oral area and;
  5. skin infections in the genital area.

HSV-2 is a lifelong infection, and can go dormant for a while until triggered. Some conditions that may end periods of no symptoms may include illness, fatigue, stress, immunisuppression, trauma to the area and/or menstruation.

Want to read more about HSV-1 and 2? Check out these resources here:

General herpes fact sheet by the CDC

Myths and facts about herpes

STIs or STDs information

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Ariane Gacionis

My name is Ariane Gacionis, and I like to share pieces about sexual health, and I sometimes share some mindfulness.