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HSV-2 positive, no outbreak?

Discussion in 'Dating and Telling a Partner' started by mimzi, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. mimzi

    mimzi Newbie

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    Hi everyone! Just need to get this off my mind...

    About 3 months ago I met a great guy and we really hit it off. Around our 5th date I went to his place with the goal of having sex; instead, he sat me down and told me had tested positive for HSV-2 about 3 years ago. I was not mad or put off, but I was concerned. We agreed that we would take it slowly. He was very considerate and never pushed the sex issue. I was able to determine the pace, and I did spend time researching and talking with my doctor. We did have sex for the first time about 3 weeks ago and have had sex a handful of times since then. We used a condom every time and keep covered when touching/fooling around. He is not on any suppressive medication.

    Basically, the issue that has confused me a bit is that while he has tested positive for HSV-2 he has never had an outbreak or any symptoms. Actually, he had three tests--the first was positive, the second negative, and the third positive (this is the test result that he showed me)! We went through the list of prodrome symptoms together and he told me had never experienced any of them. Even before we had sex I did look at his penis pretty closely and the surrounding area and saw no sores/bumps/etc. When he tried to get Valtrex all three doctors he visited said that since he had never had an outbreak he should not take it. I plan on scheduling a blood test down the road (I have read that it can take up to 3 months for the virus to show up in a blood test.)

    So how likely is he to transmit the virus? I know there's no 100% guarantee but it just occurred to me that the lack of symptoms/outbreaks may have a biological effect on how "contagious" he is. His varying test results are also a little strange. I know this is something I should have considered before the fact and maybe I'm overly stressing. Part of me wants to go back to abstaining but then I feel like it may be pointless now. Another part feels mad at myself for not taking more time to think about this more...then again, I have been less safe with men whose HSV-2 status was unknown to me. Kinda blows my mind now to think about that.

    Thank you so much for reading!
  2. MissHope

    MissHope Active Member

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    Hey mimzi,

    Just this morning I was reading up and came across this interesting (Australian) stat: Genital herpes affects different people in different ways — some people may have sores but others may show no symptoms at all. Only 20 per cent of people affected by genital herpes have recognised symptoms, 60 per cent have unrecognised symptoms and a further 20 per cent have no symptoms present at all.

    So, really your partner is in the majority and us that do know and have symptoms are in the minority!

    From the same site, is a good chart or scale for seriodiscordant partners (where one has it, the other does not) that may be helpful for intimacy. You can see it here http://www.ahmf.com.au/patients/conditions/genital-herpes/transmission-and-safe-sex

    Hopefully that helps you a little bit but I guess if he doesn't have active outbreaks or even know when he's contagious, it could be a little tricky.

    It may help to explain my personal history - I have genital herpes, my partner does not. In over 15 months I have not passed it on... we mostly use condoms, but sometimes do not and I don't take any meds. I don't have frequent outbreaks, but we do abstain if there is anything slightly curious going on down there. So, it is possible to be intimate without passing it on.

    Hope that helps a wee bit?
  3. GntiNh

    GntiNh Staff Member Super Moderator

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  4. mimzi

    mimzi Newbie

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    Hi MissHope,

    Yes, I had read that people can have HSV-2 and not exhibit symptoms. It is comforting to hear about you and your partner but I guess I'm also stressing because it seems like non-transmission seems to occur when the female is positive and the male is not, rather than vice versa :\

    That chart is very helpful, thank you! He has told me before that a couple of his girlfriends had oral herpes, and that he has never had one of those either, and that he has tested negative for HSV-1.

    Something I have been wondering about is how stress can trigger outbreaks...he has a very stressful job and is also in school, and I would think that the high stress levels would have led to some sort of outbreak.

    I realize you're not a doctor, but do you think it would be useful to get tested before the 3 months is over? Our first sexual contact was May 27.

    Thanks :)



  5. mimzi

    mimzi Newbie

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    Hi GntiNh,

    He had the IgM/IgG test all three times. The first time he was tested was when he thought he had been exposed to a different STI and had a full panel of tests done. I don't recall the actual numbers but after reviewing the link you sent me I want to know. I have really been stressing about this, even though I thought I had done enough research to feel comfortable. I guess not and now I'm regretting my decision, even though I am still dating this guy and like him :\

    Thank you!


  6. GntiNh

    GntiNh Staff Member Super Moderator

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    HSV can be a slippery little sucker and it doesn't help that doctors and the internet are often misinformed which makes it more difficult.

    Stress is a MASSIVE factor, when you body is under stress your immune system is more likely to "feck this" and bang.

    Most HSV specialists suggest 12 to 16 weeks before getting a blood test because most (not all) people develop the antibodies to the virus. If you have a test before that time it could show a false negative as in you won't see antibodies in your blood yet.

    Look at Realistic Girl's posts as well. She has lots of good links
  7. agurl

    agurl Newbie

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    i too have tested positive by blood and have not had any symptoms or an outbreak. i am now awaiting the results from whom i may have gotten it from and then will test again if needed. they also have had nothing and did not know. :(
  8. thehoopoe

    thehoopoe Active Member

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    I'd like to offer you some perspective.

    This is info is from the Herpes Simplex wiki page, you can look there for the links to the medical journals the info was culled from:

    Till the late 70s there was no stigma associated with herpes. A coldsore was a coldsore. The makers of Zovirax ( the first anti-viral) found no market for their product. They decided to stage a marketing campaign to encourage fear of the genital varieties of HSV in order to create a market for Zovirax. They used language such as " sufferers, victims, attacks ..." An article was planted in Time Magazine titled " the Scarlet H". It was a very successful strategy. So successful that a skin condition that has been in existence since the antiquities rapidly became the butt of jokes and it's 'sufferers' treated like lepers.

    Look, it's up to you whether you want to let a marketing campaign to sell pills from the 80s determine your romantic life. I understand the stigma's power. But it's a bit much to expect your boyfriend to stay with someone who believes more in advertising than in him.
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