STD: can I avoid herpes?

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Eighteen months ago my unfaithful husband caught genital herpes, which I have not caught. My GP has prescribed aciclovir as a short-term treatment for my husband. What can I do to prevent myself from catching herpes?

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Genital herpes is a highly contagious viral infection. Humans can sometimes effectively fight off herpes viruses, but after an initial infection the virus more commonly remains in the body in a dormant state. Occasionally, when an infection breaks out, the virus begins to multiply and this is the time of greatest infectivity. In men, the usual symptoms of an active genital herpes infection are sores and blisters on and around the penis.

The infection can cause genital sores and blisters in women, but sometimes it is less apparent, with sores inside the vagina. Your best chance of avoiding infection is to avoid genital contact with your husband when he has an outbreak. But even this is no guarantee that you will not get infected. Condoms provide some protection, but they may not cover the whole infected area. Aciclovir prevents outbreaks, but it does not eradicate the virus. Have a look at the Health Protection Agency website: www.hpa.org.uk, or phone the NHS Sexual Health Helpline on 0800 567123.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.

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