While kissing ”demonstrates love and affection”, it also poses risks, warns the Australian Herpes Management Forum (AHMF) ahead of the roll-out of a national ad campaign.
AHMF executive director Tricia Berger says that kissing poses risks to both adults and children.
“No parent kissing their child or partner kissing their girlfriend wants to pass along the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), but people should be aware this is the main method of transmission,” the NZPA quoted Berger as saying.
“Once you have been infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2, the virus stays in your body for life and can be reactivate at any time,” Berger added.
HSV-1, the variant of the virus otherwise referred to as cold sores, is commonly acquired as a child from contact, often a kiss, with adult relatives.
Berger says that when a person becomes infected, they will not always have typical cold sore symptoms.
“If you have a herpes sore on or near your mouth, its likely that you’ll pass the virus along to whomever you kiss,” she says.
“It is also possible to transmit the virus even when there are no apparent sores or symptoms, but the risk is higher when the sores are visible,” she added.
HSV-1 is also behind 40 per cent of genital herpes cases, while about 12 per cent of people have the virus” HSV-2 variant, which is the most common cause of genital herpes.