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5 Diseases And Infections You Can Get From Kissing

Here, doctors explain potential infections you can get from kissing, along with exactly what you need to know to stay as safe as possible.

1. Herpes

Herpes may be incurable, but it doesn’t make you a pariah. In fact, it kind of makes you normal. Around two-thirds of the world’s population under the age of 50 has herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1), which is known as the oral kind of herpes, according to the World Health Organization. And around one in every six Americans under the age of 50 has herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2), what’s known as the genital kind of herpes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The thing about HSV-1 is that it sometimes creates cold sores in and around the mouth. “If you’re kissing someone with lesions in their mouth, mucous membranes make herpes easy to transmit,” Idries Abdur-Rahman, M.D., a board-certified ob/gyn, tells SELF. So, if someone you’re kissing has HSV-1, they could give you the virus (even if they aren’t currently experiencing an outbreak, a phenomenon known as ‘asymptomatic shedding’ means they can still transmit it, says Abdur-Rahman). And if they go down on you, they could transmit the virus to your genitals.
If you or your partner has cold sores, over-the-counter medications like Abreva can shorten the outbreak. There are also antiviral medications like Valtrex that people can take on a regular basis to prevent outbreaks from occurring.

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