How to Safely and Easily Prevent Spreading HSV
If someone has a visible cold sore on their mouth — generally on the lips — you should avoid kissing and oral sex until it clears up. While it is still possible to spread the virus via asymptomatic shedding, it's much less likely. On top of that, with well over half the population being infected orally, that's about as safe as you're going to get. Actually, there is a way to be safer, and that will be shown momentarily (and don't worry, it's not abstinence).
The first rule of sexual intercourse is pretty similar: no sex during an active outbreak. When you're not having an outbreak, however, there are precautions you can take to exponentially decrease chances of transmission—so much that it's literally safer to have sex with an HSV+ individual that is aware of their status, rather than a complete stranger. Oh, and to clarify "complete stranger," just to avoid any confusion or possible twisting of words, this is referring to someone whose sexual health you do not completely know.
A "complete stranger" is not necessarily a random person you picked up a bar or party and barely learned their name before hopping in the sack, although that would certainly qualify as well. In this situation, it's simply someone whose official health records you have not seen with your own two eyes, along with some kind of assurance that those health records were confirmed after their most recent sexual partner. Not great chances, we know. Yet, this is honestly the reality of sex, and anything else you may have previously believed is essentially nothing more than a fairy tale or Hollywood propaganda. So, considering what's just been said, almost everyone—even people you have known for years—can and most likely do qualify as "complete strangers" sexually.
If the above concerns you, and it should (not even just for HSV anymore, but for potentially life-threatening infections such as HIV/AIDS), there is hope. HSV+ individuals that are aware of their status generally tend to take better care of their sexual health than most people. This is because they have already had a "scare" (HSV), then consequently realize how lucky they are to only have something as minor as HSV—a mostly harmless, oftentimes asymptomatic virus—and in turn become extremely responsible sexually. At the same time, a large portion of society continues to have sex while remaining completely unaware of their sexual health, because they still live in fantasy-land created by the movies they've seen and music they listen to. "Bad things won't happen to me," or, "this doesn't apply to me" are a couple of thoughts prevalent in the average person's mind. Wrong and wrong.
The (seriously) good news about being involved romantically or sexually with someone that's aware of their HSV+ status, is that you can both take the precautions necessary to practically destroy any chances of transmission. In an ironic way, this is actually what makes sex with an HSV+ partner safer than sex with someone else whose recent and proper medical documents you have not examined. When active outbreaks aren't occurring, use of treatments which reduce viral shedding, combined with "protection" (condoms) drastically reduces your chances of transmission—especially when used together.