People who have herpes but don’t know it can still be passing along the infection - or “shedding” it, Reuters news service reports. One in six adults in the U.S. has genital herpes, making screening for the disease very important. Genital herpes not only causes painful blisters but it can increase your risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
“The people who are symptomatic are really the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Christine Johnston, of the University of Washington in Seattle. “We are not having any impact on the epidemic by ignoring it.”
In Johnson’s study, researchers followed 498 people who had antibodies in their blood against genital herpes. This shows they had all been infected, even though about one in six never had any symptoms. Although it is unclear how much virus is needed to infect someone else, Johnston said, the amount of virus shed in the absence of sores was the same for people even without symptoms. Doctors recommend frank conversations with your partner about herpes.