There are many myths surrounding herpes and other STDs and how they’re spread. One of the more common beliefs is that you can get herpes from sharing a drink with another person. We’ll get into why this is a myth this in a minute, but before we do, remember that the thing about sexually transmitted diseases is that they are sexually transmitted. As is the case with most STDs and STIs, it is highly unlikely that you’ll contract the herpes virus through anything other than skin to skin contact with another person; and that includes drink sharing.
As easily as the herpes virus flourishes on the human body, it cannot live for more than a few seconds away from a person (i.e. on a straw, cup, or plastic bottle). In order to theoretically catch the disease by way of a shared drink, an uninfected person would have to take a sip basically immediately after an infected person, and come in contact with their saliva before the virus has had a chance to die off. All of this would have to take place within the span of about ten seconds. Once that time has passed, the risk of contracting oral herpes from the drink is no more.
That being said, it’s still not entirely advisable to share drinks with other people as bacteria and other germs do thrive on these surfaces. While you might not catch herpes from a shared drink, it’s still a prime way to catch a number of other diseases. All things considered, you may way to just stick to your own drinks as a matter of overall hygiene.
So is it possible to catch herpes by sharing a drink? Technically yes. Is it probable? No. Because of the nature and fragility of the virus, you are HIGHLY unlikely to catch the disease by way of a straw, bottle, or glass. Despite common misconceptions, you’re also not putting yourself at risk by sharing a fork, doorknob, drinking fountain, toilet seat, car, hug, or handshake.
Herpes is most commonly transmitted from person to person by way of kissing or sexual activity including oral sex, vaginal sex, and anal sex. In these situations (unlike sharing a drink), the virus is highly contagious and yet another reason why safe sex practices are so important.
Oral herpes is most contagious during breakouts when sores are open or moist. So if you have these types of sores–also known as fever blisters or cold sores–it is very important that you are extra careful as to not pass them to someone else by way of kissing. Keep in mind that babies are especially vulnerable to the virus, so as adorable as they may be, please resist kissing any babies (including your own) if you are experiencing an oral breakout. Many who are living with oral herpes contracted it as children from infected adults who were unfortunately not as cautious.
Though treatable through various prescription and over the counter medications, herpes is a serious condition for which there is no definitive cure. And while you probably won’t catch it from a rogue straw or water bottle, you do need to be careful about with whom you are kissing or engaging in sexual acts. And it’s always a good idea to get tested from time to time and, if appropriate, seek the consultation of a physician as far as how the condition can best be treated.