Herpes: Herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). There are two main types: HSV-1 and HSV-2, which can cause herpes infections through oral and genital contact.
Catching Herpes More Than Once: It's possible to catch herpes again even if you've had it before, but chances are slim. Reinfection with herpes is rare.
Recurrence vs Reinfection:
- Recurrence: This happens when a past herpes infection resurfaces, triggering the same symptoms without new exposure to the virus. It's linked to the virus living dormant in the body, often in the ganglions, and resurfacing due to certain triggers.
- Reinfection: This is when a person is re-exposed to the herpes virus, resulting in a new disease process. It requires a new exposure event and can occur with different HSV strains.
Recurrence with HSV-2: Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can cause recurring infections, but HSV-2 is more strongly associated with recurrence over the years. Recurrences may be triggered by stress, other health conditions, and other STIs.
Reinfection with Another Strain: You can get re-infected with herpes, including a different HSV strain. This is because having herpes once doesn't provide lifelong immunity against the virus. The antibodies produced during the initial infection mainly tackle the initial infection but offer little protection against future infections.
Prevention Measures: Reinfections can be avoided by practicing safe-sex behaviors, which include:
- Using a condom before every sexual act
- Using a new condom with a new partner every time
- Limiting the number of sexual partners
- Regularly getting tested for STDs.