HomeAnswersHIV/AIDS specialistgenital herpesCan I still get HIV with condoms due to my herpes infection?

I have a history of genital herpes. Will I get HIV despite using condoms?

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The following is an actual conversation between an iCliniq user and a doctor that has been reviewed and published as a Premium Q&A.

Medically reviewed by

iCliniq medical review team

Published At March 16, 2017
Reviewed AtFebruary 19, 2024

Patient's Query

Hi doctor,

I have a history of genital herpes, and the infected area is at the base of my penis where condoms do not cover. Should I worry about HIV(Human Immunodeficiency Virus) if I use condoms regularly in the future? Or will I get HIV despite using condoms because of my herpes infection?

Hi, Welcome to icliniq.com.

An open wound or raw area is a potential focus for acquiring viral infections like HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)when contacted with an infected partner. However, once the wound heals, the risk falls back to that of normal skin as elsewhere. The risk for HIV in your case would be high only if you participate in intercourse when your genital herpes has not yet healed completely. It is advisable to abstain from all sexual activities for up to two weeks after an episode of herpes so that the infection resolves completely. You could continue to participate in sexual activities as normal people after two weeks. With the use of a condom, after the healing of the wound, your risk would be the same as any other person.

Patient's Query

Hi doctor,

I heard that condoms could provide 100 percentage protection against HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) if used correctly. Has there been any documented case wherein the person got infected with HIV despite using condoms and had a history of genital herpes? A new research paper states that having a history of genital herpes makes it easier to get infected with HIV. Is asymptomatic shedding of genital herpes real? I do not think if one can affect someone else when that person does not have an active outbreak or prodromal symptoms.

Hi, Welcome back to icliniq.com.

Condom usage, both consistently and correctly, does help to reduce the transmission of multiple STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases), including HIV. However, there are equal chances of condom failure too, which makes it still a risky option. Moreover, viruses such as herpes and HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) have been well documented to be transmitted despite the use of the condom. Hence, it is always advisable to maintain a monogamous relationship. Shedding of herpes Virus in asymptomatic individuals is a real and proven phenomenon. It is because of the latency of the virus and its repeated flares.

Patient's Query

Hi doctor,

Have you seen any case where condoms were used correctly, and still HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) got transmitted because of the previous history of genital herpes? Can people even get HIV if their lesions are healed, and the condom is used correctly without any breakage or slippage?

Hi, Welcome back to icliniq.com.

No. There is no risk of transmission when the condom is used correctly, and the lesions of herpes have completely healed.

Patient's Query

Hi doctor,

Has there been a documented case of acquiring HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) when a person had a previous history of herpes despite using condoms? I am worried about HIV since many people have herpes and HIV. But, I do not want to get infected with HIV. Should I get my new partners tested before having sex with them or using condoms will help?

Hi, Welcome back to icliniq.com.

There cannot be any conclusive way to determine if a person has acquired HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) despite the use of a condom, due to condom failure, with a previous history of healed herpes. Theoretically, there is no such risk. It is always advisable to maintain a monogamous relationship and to use a condom always.

Same symptoms don't mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Dr. Rakesh Kumar Bahunuthula
Dr. Rakesh Kumar Bahunuthula

Dermatology

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