Herpes and Unprotected Sex

Dear Ask The Doctor:  So, what are the chances of spreading the disease if you had unprotected sex one and are on suppressive therapy and no signs of any outbreaks? I guess what is being said is that it is possible, even though you are continuously taking acyclovir on a daily basis? But is it likely, that just having unprotected sex one time, that you would spread it?

Dear Patient:  In general, valacyclovir is being used to prevent transmission of herpes among sexual partners, not acyclovir. Yes, it is still possible (although small) to acquire herpes and transmit it to others, most especially if the herpes virus acquired is resistant to acyclovir. No signs of outbreaks does not mean virus-free; it means that the virus is dormant but it can be reactivated when the immune system gets suppressed. Most of the time, Acyclovir is used to prevent reactivation of the virus. Yes, one may have had just one time of unprotected intercourse but the chances of acquiring herpes are small but still, a very real chance. To sum it all up, in this case, there is a very small but very real chance of acquiring and transmitting herpes; better yet both partners should be tested as soon as possible. I hope this helps

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