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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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    • viralfrog
      Having HSV-2 has not bothered me at all for casual sex. I'm just avoiding sex during outbreaks, on suppressive therapy and using condoms every time with casual partners. Since my outbreaks appear on top of my penis, even during an outbreak the risk is minimal if I put a condom on as soon as I take my underwear off.  I guess it might be a slightly different case for a girl as if you have external lesions around your groin you could still infect someone even using a condom. And of course, condoms can break, which has happened to me over 10 times and caused myself to get infected in the first place.  I see it as a much more difficult now having a serious relationship, because I can't feel much with a condom on and really want stop using them. However, I don't want to put my new girlfriend to any risk - I would feel terrible if I infected her. 
    • viralfrog
      Does anyone have experience about people's reactions to Herpes in Asia? Personally I live in Thailand where I also caught the virus as a condom broke 4 years ago.  Unfortunately I infected my ex-girlfriend with HSV-2. This was just after I had caught the virus myself and we had sex before I noticed and realised what it was. In the beginning, a local doctor told me I have just hurt my foreskin with my jeans' zipper and the tests came as negative. After getting tested later it came as positive.  Anyways, my ex-gf (well educated, professional, 26 years old then) she had no idea what Herpes was in the first place. She didn't really care too much about it and didn't bother to get tested. During our 3 year relationship we kept having unprotected sex as usual and she never had any issues until at the end one day. She had a very minor outbreak once and nothing after that (lucky her, no like myself who gets terrible symptoms non-stop). I know she has a strong immune system, because she was never sick despite myself having bad colds quite often. In any case, she could not care less about this virus and didn't mind at all.

      I've seen a lot of hysteria surrounding Herpes in Europe and the US. What has been your experience in South-East Asian countries like Thailand? Do people perceive HSV-2 as a worrying disease? 
    • Burty
      The full article is behind a paywall but you could write the the authors and request a copy.
    • OFMDH
      The jury is still out as there needs to be additional experiments. Editas' results make me believe dosing was insufficient among other issues.
    • moialbalushi
      Wow interesting !! But how did they provide it to him !! I mean he is 27 years old !!
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