Can you donate blood if you have herpes?

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The American Red Cross has guidelines as to who can donate blood and when. But actually, there are questions you should be asking yourself to find out if you even should for your own health. So can you donate blood if you have herpes? There’s one condition that might prevent you.

Can You Donate Blood If You Have Herpes?

Herpes is a viral infection that affects the skin and nerves, and is usually passed by skin-to-skin contact.

It can be transferred even if there is no visible outbreak (blisters).

Some forms of direct contact that can transmit HSV strains are:

  • sexual intercourse
  • sharing the same eating utensils or toothbrushes
  • kissing
  • any sin to skin contact during an active phase

So What’s the Verdict?

Yes, you can donate blood if you have herpes — as long as you’ve had it for some time. According to the American Red Cross donor eligibility guidelines, people with HSV are allowed to donate blood, unless they have another prohibitive infection, like HIV or hepatitis. However:

  • People having their first herpes outbreak are discouraged from donating, and are asked to wait about a month.

This is because the first time herpes manifests is usually the strongest. There is also more possibility during this period that the virus could enter the bloodstream.

Should you donate blood if you have herpes?

If you are feeling especially ill, either because of herpes symptoms or another disease, it is advised to defer donating blood at a later time. The stress on your body brought about by blood donation can trigger a herpes attack because of your weakened immune system. While this does not affect the quality of blood you donate, it can be taxing on your body to fight off the disease in an enfeebled state.

Again, herpes simplex is transmitted through direct physical contact, and not through blood transfer. For recurring outbreaks, it is recommended to wait until the sores have dried up and healed, but you can still donate blood, as long as you are feeling healthy and meet all other eligibility requirements. When the virus is in its dormant phase, the answer to “can you give blood if you have herpes?” is yes, you absolutely can.

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