Fact or Fiction: Herpes

By: Alison Cooper

Fact or Fiction: Herpes
Image: BSIP/UIG/Getty Images

About This Quiz

When you think 'herpes,' you probably conjure up visions of cold sores or (gulp) genital blisters. And, yes, oral and genital herpes are the most common types. Test your knowledge of herpes with this quiz.
There's a cure for herpes.
fact
fiction
There is no cure for herpes. You can ease your symptoms, but the virus will always live in your cells once you have it.
almost fact: Some types can be cured, but others can't.

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There are 10 types of herpes virus.
fact
fiction
almost fact: There are eight types.
There are eight types -- their official names include a number, and most have a common name, too.

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Most herpes viruses are passed through fluids.
fact
Yes, most kinds of herpes are transmitted through fluids, like mucus, semen and saliva.
fiction
almost fact: Most types are airborne.

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Because you can get herpes through saliva, don't share utensils with someone who has herpes.
fact
Nope, don't share that spoon -- you can indeed get herpes from a utensil.
fiction
almost fact: The virus will die after a few seconds on a utensil, so you don't need to worry about that.

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The most common types of herpes are herpes simplex virus 1 (which generally infects the genitals) and HSV-2 (which targets the mouth).
fact
fiction
almost fact: It's the other way around: HSV-1 is oral herpes and HSV-2 is genital herpes.
HSV-1 is oral herpes and HSV-2 is genital herpes.

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Most people acquire HSV-1 during their teenage years.
fact
fiction
Nope, it's even earlier. Most people acquire herpes as children.
almost fact: The early- to mid-twenties is the most common time to get herpes.

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You could very well have herpes and not know it.
fact
Many people who have herpes have no idea because their symptoms have never flared up.
fiction
almost fact: A small number of herpes carriers are unaware, but most have had an outbreak.

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Sixty percent of American adults have the oral herpes virus.
fact
Yes, about 60 percent of American adults have HSV-1, or oral herpes.
fiction
almost fact: It's more like 90 percent.

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Fifty percent of American adults have genital herpes.
fact
fiction
Nope, about 20 percent carry the HSV-2 virus.
almost fact: Try 10 percent.

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Only about 10 percent of people infected with oral herpes actually get cold sores.
fact
fiction
Experts say around 20 to 40 percent of infected people get cold sores.
almost fact: Cold sores will show up on about half of infected people.

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Women with genital herpes can avoid passing HSV-2 on to their newborns by delivering via C-section if they have an outbreak.
fact
The only way you can pass genital herpes to your newborn is if you have a vaginal delivery during an outbreak. So a C-section would be safe.
fiction
almost fact: The baby will still probably be infected, even with a C-section.

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If you have oral herpes, the infection lies in a cluster of nerve cells behind your nose.
fact
fiction
The HSV-1 infection lives near your ear, in the trigeminal ganglion.
almost fact: The nerve-cell cluster is inside your cheek.

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There are ointments that can help with cold-sore pain, but none of them has been shown to make the sores go away faster.
fact
fiction
almost fact: Abreva has been proven to work.
Abreva is the only cold-sore treatment that has been shown to heal sores.

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Research has shown an association between herpes simplex viruses and Alzheimer's disease.
fact
A definitive link hasn't been proven, but studies have associated HSV with Alzheimer's
fiction
almost fact: The link is between HSV and Parkinson's disease.

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Oral-to-genital contact is more likely to give you oral herpes on the genitals than genital herpes on the mouth.
fact
OK, perhaps that was a little confusing. Long story short, you're more likely to get oral herpes on your genitals than the other way around.
fiction
almost fact: It's the other way around.

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Chicken pox is caused by a herpes virus.
fact
Chicken pox and shingles are caused by the varicella zoster virus, otherwise known as human herpes virus 3 (HHV-3).
fiction
almost fact: The chicken pox virus is similar to herpes, but it's not categorized as such.

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Human herpes virus 4 is also known as the Tay-Sachs virus.
fact
fiction
almost fact: It's the Epstein-Barr virus.
HHV-4 is better known as the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It causes between 35 and 50 percent of mononucleosis cases in adolescents and young adults.

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If you're pregnant and acquire the cytomegalovirus (human herpes virus 5), you'll probably pass it on to your baby.
fact
fiction
almost fact: You might pass it on, but it's about a 40 percent chance.
The scary-sounding cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common congenital virus -- but it's not definite that your baby will get it. That happens with about 40 percent of women who acquire it during pregnancy.

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Just about every child in America will be infected with human herpes virus 6 by the time they turn 5.
fact
fiction
almost fact: Almost all 2-year-olds have it.
Almost everyone gets HHV-6 by the time they're 2. It usually presents as a rash called roseola, but most people don't have any symptoms.

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Human herpes virus 8, or Kaposi's sarcoma, is linked to kidney disease.
fact
fiction
almost fact: It's related to HIV infection.
Kaposi's sarcoma is a type of cancer associated with HHV-8. If HIV infection weakens the immune system, it allows HHV-8 to manifest itself.

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