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Ask Dr. K

Can I transmit genital herpes to my children by kissing them? I have just been diagnosed and have a sore on my buttocks.

Don’t worry, you will not transmit genital herpes on your butt to your children by kissing them. Herpes is spread from direct contact between the area of infection and the skin of some one else. If you had herpes on the lip, then yes, kissing is a way to spread herpes. Kissing can also spread syphilis but not infections like HIV and rarely gonorrhea or chlamydia.

It's important to know that there are 2 types of herpes viruses. The type of herpes that usually causes sores on the mouth is type 1 and one that can infect the genital area is type 2—with or without sores. About 3 in 4 US adults have type 1 and 1 in 5 have type 2. Unfortunately, most people who have herpes don’t know it. They also don’t know that it can be spread at any time—even if you don’t have any sores or lesions. While genital herpes can be painful and uncomfortable appearing, it is, treatable with many different very safe prescription medications. Be wary of non-prescription medications for herpes—they do not work!

The American Social Health Association runs a national hotline that provides information and materials to anyone concerned about herpes. The hotline [1-800-227-8922] is staffed from 6am to 5pm PST on weekdays.

To your health,
Dr. K

Last modified on Wednesday, November 18, 2009.
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