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Does having HSV-I gives immunity against HSV-II?

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Infectious Diseases Specialist
Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 877 Questions
I am a female and have genital HSV-1. Do I have any immunity against contracting genital HSV-2?
Posted Wed, 20 Aug 2014 in Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Answered by Dr. Roopa Hiremath 31 minutes later
Brief Answer:
HSV1 immunity provides some protection for HSV2

Detailed Answer:

I want to elaborate on some properties of herpes viruses for you to understand better.

The outstanding property of herpes viruses is their ability to establish lifelong persistent infections in their hosts and to undergo periodic reactivation.

The reactivated infection may be less severe from the disease caused by the primary infection.

Herpes simplex viruses type 1 and type 2 share a significant number of common antigens and they establish latent infections in nerve cells and recurrences are common in such infections.

Because of the antigenic cross-reactivity between HSV-1 and HSV-2, an initial HSV-2 infection in a person already immune to HSV-1 tends to be less severe.

Mind you it is not complete protection.

I hope I have cleared your doubts.

Please let me know if I can assist you further.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Does having HSV-I gives immunity against HSV-II? 8 hours later
Dear Dr. Hiremath,

Thank you for your answer. As I understand this, if I were to acquire HSV-2, my initial outbreak would be less severe because I have HSV-1 antibodies. My question is would my HSV-1 antibodies give me any protection from getting HSV-2 in the first place? And would the fact that I have HSV-1 in the genital area as opposed to oral HSV-1 make any difference in acquiring HSV-2? Thank you for your answer.
Answered by Dr. Roopa Hiremath 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
HSV1 antibodies will not protect from getting HSV2

Detailed Answer:

Welcome back.

HSV1 antibodies will not protect you 100% from getting HSV2 infection but they will make your initial outbreak less severe.

There is no difference in acquiring genital HSV2 even if you had genital HSV1.

HSV2 is sexually transmitted, so use necessary precautions with a partner whose sexual history is not known.

Experimental vaccines of various types are being developed and such vaccines might be helpful for the prevention of primary infections of HSV2.

These vaccines prevent genital herpes infections in women who are seronegative for both HSV-1 and HSV-2 but not effective in women who are seropositive for HSV-1 or in men.

I hope I have answered your query satisfactorily.

Please let me know if I can assist you further.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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