What STD’s/diseases are transmitted through JUST kissing? How can you prevent giving/receiving them?
Only one STD can be transmitted through regular ol’ smoochin’: oral herpes. There’s a lot of fear and misinformation floating around out there about herpes, but I promise it’s not as scary as it may sound.
There are two different, but similar, types of herpes: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 is the type that usually causes oral herpes — also known as cold sores. When someone gets herpes through kissing, it’s almost always HSV-1. Nearly two-thirds of people on the planet have HSV-1 — that’s literally billions of people. Many get it as a kid from a peck on the lips from a family member.
One of the most important things to know is that, for almost everyone who is living with it, oral herpes is really not a big deal at all. Even though herpes stays in your body for life, the symptoms (if you have any) are harmless. You may get small sores in or around your mouth every once in a while, but that’s pretty much the only symptom. Many people find their outbreaks get shorter and less noticeable as time goes on. Some people only have one outbreak their whole life. And sometimes people don’t show or notice any symptoms at all — in fact, most people who have herpes don’t even know it.
As far as prevention goes, the only real way to guarantee that you’ll never get herpes through kissing is to … never kiss anybody on the lips, ever. Because herpes is SO common, and many people don’t even know they have it, it’s impossible to totally eliminate your herpes risk without avoiding kissing altogether. Obviously kissing is a pretty popular activity, so the choice is up to you if the risk of cold sores is worth it.
If you already have oral herpes, the best way to prevent passing it on is to avoid lip contact with others whenever you have cold sores or think you might be getting an outbreak. This means don’t kiss anybody on the lips, don’t share eating utensils, and avoid touching the sores (if you get fluid from the sores on your hands you can spread the virus to others or to different parts of your body). It’s also possible to pass HSV-1 to someone’s genitals. So if you have a cold sore, avoid giving oral sex to anyone or use a condom or dental dam. Herpes can spread even when you don’t have sores, so there’s no surefire way to guarantee for sure that you won’t give oral herpes to someone you kiss. But try not to stress out — so many people are living with oral herpes. The odds are high that the person you’re kissing already has it, too.
-Kendall at Planned Parenthood