What is Herpes?
Herpes is a viral STI. Viral means it is a virus and stays in your body forever, however the symptoms, which are periodic breakouts of painful cold sores on the genital/anal area, are treatable. It is part of the same family of virus that causes cold sores on the mouth.
How is it transmitted?
Herpes is transmitted when the infected area, often in the form of a sore, comes into contact with the mucous membranes (vagina, anus, penis tip, mouth) of another person. They do not necessarily have to be having a breakout at the time to be contagious. It can be passed from the mouth to the genitals during oral sex as well. You can reduce your risk by using a latex barrier like a dental dam or condom for penetrative or oral sex, and not sharing sex toys unless you change condoms between partners.
How do I get treatment?
Testing must be done during a breakout, by taking a sample of an active sore. There is also a blood test to detect the virus if there are no signs of an outbreak. Treatment can then be started which helps reduce the number of and severity of outbreaks.