Are You a Herpes Carrier?

Dear Dr. Tom:

I am currently in a debate with a roommate
about the issue of herpes. Our question is how do they test for herpes
and how long can a person be a carrier without showing symptoms? Also,
can a person catch herpes while wearing a condom? Thank you for your

Dr. Tom’s Response:

Dear Molly:

A person can be tested for herpes several
ways. An examination can be preformed by a physician, and a serologic
test or a viral culture can determine infection, however, most doctors
will want a reason for any of these tests. Some persons have inapparent
herpetic infections; these seem to be akin to bacterial carriers. However,
such infections can be detected by serologic means, even though they
are asymptomatic.

Most condoms act as a barrier between the
virus and a target. Remember, viruses are extremely tiny and may pass
through the pores of some condoms. You can visualize attempting to
drive a golf ball against a chain wire fence. Many of the golf balls
will drop before the fence mesh will not pass through. However, some
will go through the mesh. Condoms are extremely good barrier protectors;
nonetheless, virus particles can pass occasionally.


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