Is It Possible to Develop an Immunity to Genital Herpes?

Is It Possible to Develop an Immunity to Genital Herpes?

Can you develop immunity to genital herpes if you had cold sores frequently as a child?
- Josh*

No. Having cold sores now or as a child does not make you immune to genital herpes.

Usually, cold sores on the mouth are caused by the HSV-1 virus and genital sores are caused by the HSV-2 virus. So someone who has HSV-1 can still get an infection with HSV-2.

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). It can be passed from person to person even if a partner has no sores or other signs of an outbreak. Other than abstinence (not having any type of sex, including oral or anal sex), the best way to avoid getting herpes is to use a condom. Use condoms during any type of sex (oral, vaginal, or anal). Girls receiving oral sex should have their partners use a dental dam every time to protect against STDs.

If one partner has a herpes outbreak, avoid sex — even with a condom or dental dam — until all sores have healed.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: August 2013

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.





Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
Web SiteAmerican Social Health Association This nonprofit organization is dedicated to preventing sexually transmitted diseases and offers hotlines for prevention and control of STDs.
Web SitePlanned Parenthood Federation of America Planned Parenthood offers information on sexually transmitted diseases, birth control methods, and other issues of sexual health.
Web SiteGYT - Get Yourself Talking and Get Yourself Tested This media campaign designed to get young people to talk with their health care providers and partners about the importance of getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
Related Articles
Can You Get Genital Herpes From a Cold Sore? Find out what the experts have to say.
Is it Normal to Get Pimples Near the Vagina? Find out what the experts have to say.
What Are the Chances of Having an STD? Find out what the experts have to say.
Telling Your Partner You Have an STD People who have STDs might feel apprehensive about discussing their disease with a partner. Here are some tips on talking to a partner when you have an STD.
Talking to Your Partner About STDs You know you should talk about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) before the action starts, but if you're like most people the thought of having "the talk" makes you completely nervous. Welcome to STD Chat 101.
Genital Herpes You've probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Read about how to protect yourself.
5 Myths About STDs There's lots of misinformation out there about STDs. We set the record straight on 5 of the most common myths.
I Have Bumps On My Penis. Is This Normal? Find out what the experts have to say.
If Someone With Herpes Has No Sores, Can It Still Be Passed On? Find out what the experts have to say.
About Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) You've probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Find out how to protect yourself.
iGrow iGrow
Sign up for our parent enewsletter