How can we prevent the spread of oral herpes (HSV1) to other people in our lives?
In general, prevention of a viral infectious agent, such as HSV, from an infected party to a non-infected party revolves around a few strategies:
1. Avoid direct contact between the parties especially during the active disease phase (abstinence strategy)
2. Allow direct contact but insert an effective barrier, if available, to transmission during direct contact (barrier method strategy)
3. Suppress the viral load in the infected party with medication to reduce the risk of transmission (pre-exposure suppressive strategy).
4. Treat the non-infected party with medication after exposure to reduce the risk of being infected (post-exposure prophylaxis strategy).
5. Induce immunity in the non-infected party e.g. via vaccination (vaccination strategy)
Which strategy to employ depends on what is currently available and if it is worthwhile (either personally or in the interest of public health) to do so.
For oral HSV1 infection, generally only strategy 1 is practical and may be used.
For sexually transmitted HSV2 infections, strategies 1 to 3 may be employed based on individual needs and situation.
Currently, strategies 4 & 5 do not apply to HSV infection but may apply to other viral infections such as HIV and HPV infections.
Hope this helps!
Dr Chin Yee Choong
1 Grange Road #10-03
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