Can you get herpes from sharing a drink? A lot of people wonder and ponder about this not just sharing a drink but other utensils with an infected person. The reasons for this question is because herpes is a virus and just like most viruses, it may be possible to transmit.
The answer to this question is that it is theoretically possible but very much unlikely to spread or contact herpes by sharing drink, straw, glass and other utensils with other people. Before we fully answer this question, let us explain what herpes is, the causes and symptoms and how it can be transmitted.
WHAT IS HERPES?
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) or commonly known as herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a virus. This virus can be spread through sexual contact or oral contact with an infected person. There are two types of herpes and they are HSV-1 and HSV-2.
HSV-1 or oral herpes causes cold sores and blisters to develop around the mouth. This type of herpes is most common that the American Sexual Health Association estimates that roughly half of all adults in the United States have oral herpes. Oral herpes can be transmitted to another person when the virus which can be present in sores, saliva or on surface of the mouth of the infected person touches another. Close contact like kissing, sharing items like drink, straw, spoon, or lipstick can fasten the transmission process. HSV-1 can be transmitted from the mouth to the genitals during oral sex.
Herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) causes blisters to develop on the penis, vulva, vagina, testicles, cervix, on the thigh and around the anus. With time, these blisters turn to painful and itchy sores.
Both types of herpes are common that about 47.8 percent of adults in the United States have herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and 11.9 percent have herpes simplex virus type 2 (Centers for Disease Control, 2018). According to statistics from World Health Organization in 2022, an estimated 3.7 billion people under age 50 (67%) have HSV-1 infection globally while an estimated 491 million people aged 15–49 (13%) worldwide have HSV-2 infection.
Herpes can be transmitted to the eyes if you use same hands used in touching the sores to touch the eyes without washing them.
SYMPTOMS OF HERPES
Herpes have symptoms like:
- Blisters and sores in and on the mouth
- Blisters and sores in and on the genitals
- Painful sex and urination for genital herpes
- Loss of appetite
- Pain while eating and drinking for oral herpes.
Symptoms of herpes in the eyes are:
- Pain in the eye
- Discharge from the eye
- Feeling of having sand in the eye.
CAN YOU GET HERPES FROM SHARING A DRINK?
The possibility of you getting herpes from sharing a drink with an infected person is very low and almost non-existent but we cannot totally rule out this fact. Remember that one of the ways you can get herpes is through saliva exchange, because of this, this virus can be spread through sharing a drink. Herpes can be actively spread when there are open sores but even there are no sores, the virus can be transmitted actively to others. However, transmission is very much at high risk when there are open sores.
If a person with herpes especially HSV-1 (oral herpes) drinks and you are to drink after him or her using same glass or straw, there is a little possibility that you can get the virus. Herpes virus can live outside the body and other surfaces for some hours up to a few weeks, there is no research or findings that concluded that it can be spread by drinking from the same straw and glass.
Sharing drinks with infected persons will not be dangerous to your health due to the nature of the virus, but you cannot conclude that herpes virus may not be shared. To be on the safe side, you should avoid sharing glass, straws and other personal utensils with other people.
CAN YOU GET HERPES FROM SHARING MAKEUP, CHAPSTICK OR LIPSTICK?
Just like drinks and utensils, there is a possibility of getting herpes from sharing makeup tools used on the mouth like lipstick with an infected person. You should k ow that herpes can stay outside the body and on surfaces, some expert microbiologists stated that it will last for only few minutes while other sources stated that herpes virus can stay for a longer time especially if the environment is moist and warm. Sharing herpes is not very difficult and it is possible to get it by sharing lipstick, chapstick and makeup.
HOW IS HERPES TRANSMITTED?
Herpes virus is commonly transmitted by having direct physical contact with an infected person. Physical contact include having:
- Oral sex and contact
- Anal sex
- Genital sex
- Unprotected sex
- Touching the sores and using same hand to touch the mouth, eyes and genitals.
You can also spread herpes through non sexual activities like:
- Handshakes (Herpetic sores on the hands can have this virus).
- From mother to baby during delivery especially if the mother have active sores in her vagina, the virus can get to the baby through the birth canal).
CAN HERPES SURVIVE IN WATER?
JAMA Network in 1983 carried out a study on water specimen collected from two health spas to check for the presence of herpes virus and its ability to survive in water. The water specimen were tap water and distilled water . It was discovered that the herpes virus survived four hours in the tap water and 24 hours in distilled water. The study went further to show that herpes virus can last for 4.5 hours if placed on plastic surfaces in a humid atmosphere at 37 to 40 °C.
HOW LONG CAN HERPES LIVE OUTSIDE THE BODY?
There is no definite amount of time that the herpes virus can live outside the body, it varies depending on factors like temperature and environment. However, it is estimated that it can last between few hours to a week. When the virus is dead, there is not possibility of you getting infected even if you share a drink with an infected person.
IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT HERPES
There has been some myths and false information about the herpes virus, knowing the right information will be helpful in preventing the virus. Here are some important facts about herpes that you should know.
- You can get herpes without coming in contact with open sores. The virus does not need open sores to spread from persons to persons.
- Herpes may not show symptoms in some people, this means that not having the virus does not cancel out the fact that a person may have herpes.
- Currently, there is no permanent cure for herpes. Once you get the virus, it will be in you for life.
- Herpes can be spread through kissing even without involving the tongue.
- You can contract the herpes virus through any type of sex even when there is no exchange of fluid. This means you can contract it through anal sex, oral sex and sharing of sex toys.
HOW IS HERPES DIAGNOSED?
Herpes can be diagnosed with a physical examination. During the examination, the doctor thoroughly checks the body for blisters and sores that may have been caused by herpes. HSV testing or herpes culture can also be done to diagnose herpes, it is done to confirm the presence of the virus if you have sores in your genitals.
This procedure involves using a swab to take a sample of fluid from the sore. The sample is sent to a laboratory for further testing and observation. Another way to diagnose herpes is by carrying out blood tests. The tests are done to check for the presence of HSV-1 and HSV-2. This is down when there are no active sores on the body.
HOW IS HERPES TREATED?
There is no permanent cure for herpes currently, all treatment methods available will only reduce the outbreaks of herpes and also treat the sore. Treatments like luminance red uses uses high-powered light technology to reduce the length of time the sores stay on the body, treats them and fasten their healing period. Most times, these sores can go away on their own. Some medications will reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others. Example of such medications are acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir.
HOW TO PREVENT HERPES
Remember there is no permanent cure for this virus so it is very important that you prevent contracting it or spreading it to other people. If you have HSV-1 or there is an outbreak of this type of herpes, you should do the following:
- Avoid all sexual activities like kissing, oral sex, anal or other type.
- Avoid having direct contact with people as much as you can.
- Do not share personal item like cups, towels, silverware, clothing, makeup, or lip balm with others.
- Wash your hands properly when you touch the sores.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after having handshake with others.
- Use cotton swab when applying medications to the blisters and sores.
- Anyone with HSV-2 should avoid all types soft sexual activities with other people.
Herpes is a stubborn but common virus that causes blisters and sores on the mouth and genital areas. Herpes is very common especially oral herpes so it is very important that you take precautions to avoid contracting the virus. Although there is low chance of getting herpes from sharing a drink with others but we cannot rule out the possibility. Avoid sharing personal items with others as you may contract other viruses that may not be herpes.