A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control
I read many times that Herpes or HPV are transmitted by skin to skin contact. What does the latter entail exactly? For example, lets say I engage in intercourse with a woman who has herpes but no sores are present. Now for the intercourse I decided to use a condom also for more protection. Does that mean that in order to get infected in this case, a virus can pass on by a simple touch genital to genital or does virus have to be 'massaged' into the body?


If a person you were having sex with has herpes simplex virus (HSV). They would need to have HSV on the genitals at the time you had sex for it to pass to you. If the person does not have HSV sores at the time it is still possible for HSV to be there if there was some asymptomatic shedding (HSV is shedding but person has no symptoms of this taking place) at the time.

If someone has HSV, not having sex during an outbreak and using condoms are two big ways of protecting yourself from having HSV pass to someone else. 

In your situation you probably need more than just a simple touch. We think that the friction/ rubbing action that happens when having sex helps with the passing of HSV as this creates little micro tears that make the passage into the body easier.

Let us know if you have any more questions or concerns.

Health Nurse

This answer was posted on November 20, 2018
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Community comments

Arianus says:

I find this interesting and scary at the same time. If the female is shedding the virus without any sores present and the penis is protected but the virus lands on scrotum or inner thighs. How does it get into the body?

Health Nurse says:


Wearing a condom would provide good protection but like you have said the virus could get into the body if an area was exposed and not covered by a condom.

The virus would get into the body by getting past the first layer of skin. The scrotum and thigh would have dry skin and the virus would need to get passed this. If the exposure was brief and the skin was unbroken it would be more difficult for this to happen.

We find that the action of sex helps pass the virus because the skin to skin rubbing action on a particular area can cause microscopic tears in the skin and the exposure time is also increased when this is happening as well.

Let us know if you have any more questions.

Health Nurse

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