Most people think kissing is safe when it comes to STDs. However, what you may not realize is that syphilis and herpes simplex virus (HSV 1 and 2) can be transmitted by mouth – be it a quick kiss on the mouth or a French kiss.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to stop kissing altogether, but it is good to be aware of the two diseases that can be passed through the act.
HSV 1 and 2 infections are the most common kind of STD, and once a person has been infected, it’s there. There is no cure for the herpes virus. It can stay dormant in the body for years before a person has a reaction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agency, most people who have herpes never know they have it and unwillingly spread it to others.
Oral herpes can be transmitted from mouth to genitals through oral sex, which is how some genital herpes cases has come about. The same goes for HSV-2, leading to oral herpes.
For people worried about the herpes virus, it’s best to ask a partner about symptom flare-ups. Signs of an impending outbreak include tingling, itching and burning sensations. Reassure your partner that herpes is nothing to feel embarrassed about, as over half of all Americans have oral herpes with one in six Americans diagnosed with genital herpes.
People who have herpes can talk with their doctor about prescriptions that can reduce their chances of spreading the HSV-1 and HSV-2 disease.
The CDC says there are four stages of syphilis, each one with their own signs and symptoms.
The disease is passed when there is an open sore in the first three stages – orally, vaginally or anally. It can also be passed while kissing. The best way to avoid catching syphilis is to not kiss or have sex with an infected person.
It’s always best to ask new partners if they’ve been tested for STDs and avoid kissing anyone or having sex with a person with visible sores. It’s always a good idea for everybody to be tested even if they are not visible signs or symptoms.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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