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Ruined relationship?


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Hello all,

I’m hoping for some clarification, hope, and even some “scientific” proof of some sort. It’s been about two years or so since I had my initial outbreak on my vulva. Yes I went to my doctor, yes I got swabbed but no, I never got specific answers on my diagnosis. All I was told was that I had herpes. Well obviously dating has been a little rough but I thought there was hope. So I’ve gone on a couple of dates with an amazing guy, we have a great time together. On our second date, he discloses to me that he has had cold sores on his lips since he was a kid and that he wanted to let me know before we ever got to kissing. I told him I could relate and explained my story to him. He was open and accepting, we agreed on using condoms whenever we get to that point UNTIL today that the topic was brought up again. Today he told me he did a little more research after I encouraged him to do so, then told me that he read he could get herpes on his penis from me and so now we could date but without sex. 

Well, sex is a big thing for me because it creates a different sort of bond, it’s a very connecting moment and he knows my opinion on sex. He’s told me he understands if I don’t want to continue anything with him because of my views on sex. I am seriously hurting pretty badly after the conversation and I don’t know how to respond. 

I could have sworn that that sort of transmission wasn’t a thing. Also, I thought once you have herpes, you can’t get a second initial outbreak on another location. Please correct me if I’m wrong and please give me some sort of link or something that gives me more information on transmission. I know it may be difficult to help me since neither of us know what exact strain we have. But I’m hoping maybe for some clarification, maybe some information that can possibly make him feel comfortable with protected sex. 

This is devastating, please help 

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Hey @LoneWolf this makes it imperative for you to understand type through a blood test. It sounds like your swab was not typed (or maybe the doc could check the detail).

It is funny that it is OK for him to expose you to HSV-1 after disclosure but not for him to accept risk the other way!

What you say is true segregated for type. This means it is actually advantageous if you both have the same HSV type, that is, HSV-1 in this instance. This is because your immune system prevents further infection, being so termed 'concordant' is the best position to be in. Note that this does not work if one partner has HSV-2 and the other HSV-1.

Thus you need to find out your type for the best outcome here. It would be a shame for this breakup to happen if you are actually concordant. 

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@WilsoInAus that’s what I thought also, like wow how rude BUT he did tell me he'd understand if I didn’t want to kiss him anymore. He said he felt bad because I kissed him and over the weekend he looked into it further and came  to this conclusion. 

So if him and I have different types then what’s the possible outcome, we both infect each other with the strain we don’t have yet?

Also, if I call my doctor to try to get specifics on the test results(which I hope they still have), is there anything in particular I need to ask for? 

I’ve moved states since my initial outbreak. Moving forward and getting tested again, what do I and  he need to ask for specifically to make sure we get specific results? Also, about how much do these tests run for? I’m assuming insurance doesn’t cover any of it. 

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@LoneWolf let's assume for a moment that you have HSV-2. This would then mean that he is at risk genitally of being infected with HSV-2. His oral HSV-1 cannot be assumed to provide any protection. 'Suppressive' use of antivirals and condoms are what reduces risk to him. You actually have greater protection from HSV-1, HSV-2 just works that way with good cross reaction against HSV-1.

In terms of your swab, ask if it was PCR or culture. If PCR then it was typed so ask them which type was detected. If culture ask if an immunofluoresence test was applied to the positive culture. If it wasn't then there was no typing. Of course make sure the swab was indeed positive for HSV in the first place.

If type isn't clear from the swab, then request a blood test for IgG antibodies type specific for HSV-1 and HSV-2.

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@WilsoInAus so I made a few calls and absolutely nothing was tested for herpes besides a visual confirmation. I will be making an appointment with a new gyno very soon and requesting this specific blood work. 
When you said “You actually have greater protection from HSV-1, HSV-2 just works that way with good cross reaction against HSV-1”, what did you mean?

Heres another scenario question, say condoms and suppressive medications(on my end) are being used, what would have to happen for transmission to occur from me to him? I know there’s mention of shedding but is it only shedding in the areas where the initial outbreak occurred? Would it be safe to say that as long as there isn’t skin to skin contact with my area of initial outbreak that there shouldn’t be transmission?

Also, could I get another initial type outbreak from kissing him?

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@LoneWolf so no swab result or anything? That's very strange. In that case you need the IgG testing type specific for HSV-1 and HSV-2 pronto!

What I mean is that the evidence suggests there is very little protection against HSV-2 if you have HSV-1. However if you have HSV-2 there is a lot of protection against HSV-1! Hence if you have HSV-2 the odds of you getting oral HSV-1 are very small, less than 1% chance a year, probably way less.

Despite use of condoms and antivirals there is still an element of risk. You can shed anywhere in the boxer short region and some reasonable skin to skin contact could occur around the condom protected area. However the chances are not high. It is estimated that there is a 1% chance of him becoming infected each year of sex with you under these circumstances (antivirals religiously and condoms religiously).

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    • WilsoInAus
      Welcome @Marlena correct you and your partner would benefit from the type specific version of the HSV test (meaning a separate result for HSV-1 and HSV-2). I had no idea the Euroimmun or equivalent actually had a combined version, it is pretty useless given the high incidence of HSV-1. Only one thing to add is that if you are getting frequent symptoms then you can obtain a swab and have this tested for HSV and other things as well.
    • WilsoInAus
      Yeah @FirstTimeUser there is nothing in the pic suggestive of genital herpes. It seems both you and your partner have HSV-1 orally and that's actually pretty cool. It means you won't pass it to each other's genitals owing to immunity. If the two of you are concerned about genital HSV-2 then mutually test for the IgG HSV-2 and HSV-1 antibodies.
    • CHT
      Hi "firstimeuser".... let's see what "WilsoinAus" thinks but, for what's it worth, I don't see anything in your picture (or description) that looks like herpes..... it actually looks more like a scrape or follicle issue.... maybe even a bug bite.  Also, by the way, the odds of having HSV2 with an outbreak on your testicles is very low.... that is not a typical spot for an HSV2 outbreak.    Have your doctor take a look and if you want some peace of mind, get an IgG antibody test for HSV2 in about 12 weeks (takes that long for antibodies to develop).... but, again, I don't think you have anything to worry about here.... just not seeing anything herpes-related here.    take care....best of luck.
    • CHT
      Hi Marlena..... since you stated you've had "herpes on the lips" then you likely have oral HSV1, which the majority of adults worldwide have... the fact your results for HSV1/2 are positive (at least I believe that's what your results show - I don't speak Polish but, I think I'm seeing your results are positive based on the attachment you included) may simply be reading the fact that you have HSV1.... the question is whether you've contracted HSV2 in your genital area. Your description of symptoms could possibly be related to HSV but, it's difficult to verify with certainty based on your description. You may also have contracted a different type of sexually transmitted infection (STI) or a simple fungal infection.   Your doctor does not believe what he/she is seeing is HSV but, unless your doctor has experience with HSV, they could easily misdiagnose your condition.  You need full STI testing. Do you have the option to travel to a larger city in Poland where you could get an appointment to be seen by a doctor with more experience with STIs?  You really need to have an experienced doctor take a look and run tests to check specifically for HSV2 as well as other STIs.  If they can rule out HSV2 or other STIs then hopefully they can then determine what is causing the redness, itching, and swollen condition.... again, it may not be HSV2 but, you need proper testing to verify.  Have you talked to your boyfriend about all this?  Has he had any symptoms on his genitals that are suspect?  Has he taken any tests to check for STIs?   I hope you can get more definitive testing so you know what you are dealing with and how best to treat it.  If you have any other questions/concerns, please come back and let us know.... I hope this helps a little.... best of luck.... take care.
    • CHT
      Hey Jeremy.... I know only too well that emotional pain you are feeling.... I really do.... and many of us on this site also know that pain.  It's not so much the physical side of having HSV that hurts, it's the stigma and risk of rejection that stings like hell!  You have to do what you think is right as it relates to when you disclose your HSV status when getting to know someone romantically.... I just think it's best to do it relatively early, and certainly before any sexual activity.   Have you looked into dating sites that cater to those with HSV?  I know others have had some luck with meeting partners on these sites.... you don't have to worry about the "disclosure" talk nor would you obviously have to worry about passing along a virus the other person already has.... take a few minutes and search around and see if it's an option you like. By the way, by taking your daily antiviral med and using a condom, your risk of passing along the virus is down around 1.9%.... pretty good odds that if you stick to your regimen you are very unlikely to transmit the virus....keep that in mind when you meet your next girlfriend and need to have "the talk."  That statistic might help calm any concerns about contracting the virus from you. I hope you don't give up.... as tough as it can be to find the right partner, it's still worth trying.... try to stay optimistic and look into some alternate options and see what happens.... all the best.... take care.
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