Oh gosh, there is SO MUCH MORE to learn about herpes than I had space here! Here are some resources on herpes from Planned Parenthood, Wikipedia (Oral and Genital), and the American Sexual Health Association‘s page on oral herpes. SUPER IMPORTANT: if you’re having a herpes outbreak wash your hands a lot because if you touch that viral fluid weeping from your sore and then touch another part of a body (yours or someone else’s) you can spread the disease.
ALSO! You have to specifically request a HERPES TEST when you go in for your regular STI testing, otherwise most healthcare providers DO NOT TEST FOR IT in their standard procedures. Part of my surprise in learning I have oral herpes is because I’d been getting regularly tested for years and it had never been reported to me, but that was because they weren’t testing me for it.
EDIT 7/11/2014: A family medicine resident (Dr. Colin M) wrote to me about why herpes is not included in standard STI testing and also that I should caution you folks from rushing out and getting that test if you’re not showing any symptoms of it. Below is an abridged excerpt from his email, reprinted with permission (bolding my own):
You note that most providers do not test for herpes as part of the standard screening protocol and there are a number of good reasons for this. Most notably, a positive test without symptoms is difficult to interpret – there can be a high false positive rate in low risk populations and it shouldn’t necessarily affect how a person acts without some other concern for infection. Which is to say, it can cause people a lot of worry and grief without any real benefit. Of course if someone has a concern that they may have been infected, it may be reasonable to request, but it isn’t really indicated as a standard screening. … My suggestion would be: if someone has a concern that they may have been infected, it may be appropriate to pursue serologic (blood) testing for herpes. It is, of course, more meaningful if someone has symptomatic evidence of infection (which is to say, vesicular lesions on the lips or genitals) and those lesions can be cultured. … While it may be appropriate for some people, I continue to feel that it would not be beneficial for many individuals and can potentially be harmful.
Dr. Colin M. recommends checking out this link for more information.
There’s been a shift from calling things STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) to STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). Anyone can have an infection without showing symptoms (STI), but if you do exhibit symptoms (such as having herpes outbreaks) then you have indeed contracted the disease and it is a STD.