Herpes Rulebook Revealed by NCAA College Sports Guidelines

by | Herpes Facts and Myths | 1 comment

What are the rules of herpes?

80-90% of the adult population has HSV-1 and 20- 25% have HSV-2. People with herpes are the majority… yet few will admit it. Many have it and don’t even know.

What are the rules of herpes? Society needs to set down the guidelines. What’s fair? Is oral herpes equal to genital herpes? Does everyone need to be tested? Is it just the people who have been tested who must play by the rules?

Actually, I have found the “Rosetta Stone” of herpes rules. The rules are laid out very clearly. The truth however is also revealed in what is not said.

First, let’s look at what the rulebook specifically says.

Herpes is very common in a variety of sports that have a lot of skin to skin contact. It is HSV-1 but it goes by the name “herpes gladiatorum” or “wrestler’s herpes.” (Read more about herpes gladiatorum)

Wrestling is an NCAA college sport and the NCAA must not only address the herpes issue, but it must also make it public knowledge. Here is an outline of their rules:

NCAA Wrestler Examination Guidelines

The NCAA mandates examinations of wrestlers before competitions. Here is how the examinations are performed:

• Athletes must be examined for communicable diseases by a qualified physician or certified athletic trainer prior to the competition.
• The exam must be conducted in a private and secure area.
• If an athlete has been diagnosed with a skin condition they can compete if a physician determines it is safe for them to compete without jeopardizing the health of others. (There must be “paperwork” that verifies this.)
• Athletes who do not pass the examination will not have their transportation or per diem paid for by the NCAA.

(Similar examinations seem to be in place before practice as well, though I am not sure that they are mandated as such by the NCAA.)

FIVE NCAA Rules Regarding Athletes with Herpes

These rules do not prevent students from competing. It gives guidelines for athletes, trainers, and coaches. In the rules below the NCAA makes a distinction between “primary infections” and “recurrent infections.” For people with herpes we know this as our first outbreak and every other outbreak after that. (The primary outbreak is often more severe than the recurring outbreaks.)


1. Wrestler must have no moist lesions; all lesions must be dried and surmounted by a FIRM ADHERENT CRUST.
2. Wrestler must have been on the appropriate dosage of systemic antiviral therapy for at least 120 hours before and at the time of the meet or tournament.
3. Active herpetic infections shall not be covered to allow participation.

Two Additional Rules for Wrestlers with a PRIMARY Herpes Infection

1. Wrestler must be free of systemic symptoms of viral infection.
2. Wrestler must have developed NO NEW blisters for 72 hours before the examination.


This is an interpretation. The NCAA is forced into the position of laying out rules because herpes is so prevalent in wrestling. To exclude all people with herpes… really means excluding the majority. They don’t do that. They couldn’t do that. “Herpes gladiatorum” is HSV-1 and a blood test makes no distinction between “herpes gladiatorum” and “oral herpes.”

By looking at the rules, this is what I conclude:

1. A wet sore is more contagious than a dry sore.
2. The primary outbreak is more contagious than a recurrent outbreak.
3. People with herpes are not lepers and should not be treated as such.
4. Herpes is so common we can’t exclude everyone who has it.
5. We can minimize the risk, but we can’t eliminate the risk.
6. If you want to wrestle you have to take the risk.
7. If you want to wrestle you have to wrestle people who have herpes. Once again, if we eliminated everyone who has herpes, there would be no one to wrestle.
8. You cannot remove all risk from life.
9. We know about viral shedding, and there is nothing we can do about it. Once again, we can’t remove all risk in life.
10. If you show up and attempt to compete when you know you have a herpes outbreak… we are going to punish you… by not paying for your travel and meals!
Oral herpes, herpes gladiatorum, and genital herpes. They are all herpes and they all can be transferred to most any area on a person’s body. The world needs to wake up and do the math. Reduce risk, take the risk, and take responsibility for your actions. Isn’t that what the NCAA rules are all about?

Ignorance is not an excuse…

Ignorance by:
1. people who have herpes
2. people who  have herpes but don’t know they have herpes
3. people who don’t have herpes
…is breaking the rules!