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hortiholic

Protecting myself and my friend

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hortiholic

I'm just wondering if any of you could offer some perspective or opinion (medical or personal) on this situation. Boy A meets boy B, and although the chemistry is not overwhelming there's enough there for a second and third and maybe further engagements. However, before the breathing gets overly heavy B (to his credit) discloses that he has HSV-2, which is currently asymptomatic but which has re-emerged in the last couple of years after a decade or more of dormancy. He also discloses that he started anti-viral drugs but stopped because of gastro-intestinal symptoms. Boy A then tries to figure out where to go from there. There already might have been contact with asymptomatic areas of infection. Any risk of transmission seems like too much risk, given the context, and A is admittedly a bit freaked by the theoretical possibilities. In fact, A is imagining he FEELS some symptoms. But then again A is well aware that he (and most other queer men) has likely had previous, theoretically risky contact with men who have asymptomatic Herpes simplex. How does A protect himself as well as B, physically and emotionally, beyond the basics of avoiding direct contact with potentially infectious tissue? Should he rule out a physical relationship?

Any insights would be welcome. Thanks!

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IDefineMyLife

I'd say it really all depends on the risk level that Boy A is comfortable with. You pretty much hit the nail on the head. Avoiding the infected areas (especially during an outbreak), having protected sex, and suppression can help to reduce the risk, but unfortunately there is no way to completely eliminate that risk. So Boy A should always be aware that any kind of sexual activity poses at least some risk for infection.

That said, Boy A probably should evaluate his level of comfort with the risks. Learning about the virus is a great start to assess comfort level with the risk. Factors such as the prevalence of HSV, the fact that it is not life threatening, and that studies show that for most people (an estimated 80%) symptoms are either so mild they are unnoticed or not present at all might influence his decision. On the flip-side, one never knows how he will be affected by the virus. You may be one of the unlucky ones with frequent and severe outbreaks.

I know it's not too helpful, but there probably isn't a satisfying answer to the question.

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hortiholic

Thanks for the reply, IDML. You've provided thoughtful, well-informed, helpful perspective, which is all I can ask. I'm certainly not anticipating any definitive answers.

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