Can you catch herpes from kissing? My boyfriend got a cold sore a few months ago and I want to be able to kiss him, but I would like to not catch herpes.

It’s very responsible to be concerned about this.  You’re right—both Type 1 and Type 2 herpes can be spread through kissing if one partner is infected.  While transmission is most likely when the cold sore is actually present, it’s also possible when your partner has no symptoms. That’s because the virus can be active near the surface of the skin without creating an outbreak.

To reduce the risk of contracting the virus, avoid contact with the cold sore. When he has a cold sore, avoid kissing, sharing drinks and lip balm. If your boyfriend has consistent outbreaks, he may want to consider talking to his doctor about herpes medications, which can suppress outbreaks and reduce the risk of transmission.

If you are sexually active with your boyfriend, protect yourselves during oral-genital contact! Transmitting Type 1 Herpes (oral herpes) onto the genitals is possible; using a condom for oral intercourse on a male or a dental dam for oral intercourse on a female can reduce your risk.

And keep in mind that, although both genital and oral herpes can be unpleasant, plenty of individuals do not have regular outbreaks and are able to lead healthy, happy sexual lives.  If you have more questions about herpes, check out this Center for Disease Control page, or visit Teen Clinic to speak with a nurse.

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