Herpes: do you need to tell your partner?

What should you tell you partner about your diagnosis?

Published: Friday 07 July 2017

STI Telling Your Partner

Genital herpes is often stigmatised in our society. It is misunderstood, and getting the basics right is the first step to a better understanding of the condition. It can help to inform a new partner you have herpes and for them to understand what that involves.

Herpes is Common

Herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus, which can lie dormant in the body and not show any symptoms. In fact, most of those who have the virus are not aware of it.

Be Aware

Diagnosis of the virus helps in the prevention of transmission from one person to another as measures can be taken beforehand. The most effective precaution would be avoiding sex as soon as you notice symptoms of an outbreak and up until they have completely disappeared. Condoms are the next best preventative measure, since herpes simplex virus cannot pass through a condom. They significantly reduce the chance of the virus being passed to your partner. However, we strongly recommend that you practice safe sex at all times, even when not exhibiting symptoms.


The virus is generally passed from one person to another through direct contact with an affected area during an outbreak. Transmitting it without an outbreak (when the virus is dormant in your nerve cells) is unlikely but it is best to be safe.

If you and your partner have the same type of virus, you cannot catch it again on another part of the body.

Talking with your Partner

Be open and honest about your sexual history and any diagnoses. This is for both their protection and yours. Inform your partner before you are ready for intimate contact and give them time to do some research before making any decisions. It is your responsibility to inform your partner before you decide to have sex. Be confident and calmly discuss the situation.

If in doubt, you can visit a sexual health clinic for further support and advice on how to discuss any sexual health concerns with your partner.

Subscribe to our newsletter