Herpes viral shedding means that the herpes virus — both HSV1 and HSV2 — can be present on the surface of the skin even when no visible signs or symptoms of a herpes outbreak is present. (genital HSV-1 sheds less than genital HSV-2. Download the “Disclosure cheat sheet” from the herpes resources page for specifics on the percent of days that virus is shedding depending on the strain and location.) Studies have shown that within the first few months of initial herpes exposure the rate of viral shedding is much higher than after the body has a chance to build up a tolerance to the herpes virus. Six months after the first herpes outbreak, viral shedding is said to occur around 5-20% of the time, depending on what study you read. Shedding virus doesn’t necessarily mean that there is enough virus to be passed to a partner. Mayo Clinic experts have determined that around 70 percent of all cases of genital herpes were acquired when an infected partner showed no physical signs or symptoms, but when HSV was actively shedding.