[Question #2585] HSV 2 autoinoculation

43 months ago
Hi Terri-

My boyfriend bas not been tested for HSV 2, so periodically I check myself for signs of infection just in case. My question is- If I recently contracted GHSV2 (where my body has not built up antibodies) and I was touching/examining my genitals when no sores were found/present, but I could have been shedding, then I touched my mouth/chin where there was acne, what are the chances that I autoinoculated my face/mouth with HSV 2?

Here's what happened. 

I self checked vaginal area for sores. Saw nothing abnormal. No sores. I then washed my hands briefly with diluted soap. I dried my hands on a towel, then applied liquid foundation to my face, near my mouth, possibly touched/rubbed lips, and over acne on my chin. I guess my only concern is whether or not there was enough soap to kill any possible virus before I touched my face/lips/acne. It was a dispenser filled with water mixed with little soap left in the bottom of the container. 

My understanding and rationale is that no, this is not a means of transmission. For one, my boyfriend has not ever had a genital outbreak and there were no sores present on my vagina during my self exam. I then washed my hands with (a small amount) of soap which I know is affective in killing HSV. Then I dried my hands on a towel before touching my face. All of these factors makes this scenario a zero risk. Am I correct?

Side note: I am learning how to combat irrationality with logic and scientific information which is my purpose in posting this question. I realize the purpose of this forum is not to aid anxious/OCD individuals in their coping strategies; however, I find that the more I learn the more I can protect myself and think logically. 
Thank you!
43 months ago
Sorry to double post, but I figured if I asked my second question before my first is answered then I will take up less of your time asking as a follow up. 

This morning I used the restroom and before washing my hands I absentmindedly picked/scratched at a new pimple on my face. The skin doesn't appear to be open, as it did not bleed- but my same question applies as earlier. Is this a means for transmission of HSV 2 from the genitals to the face? Mainly I just want to know that absentmindedly rubbing/scratching/touching my face or mouth after any encounter with my genitals (scratching, the restroom etc..) won't result in autoinoculation if I have a new infection I'm not yet aware of. I thank you for putting my mind at ease with facts. 
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
43 months ago
You answered your own question!   Yes, this is a zero risk situation for so many reasons - we don't know that you boyfriend is infected, we don't know that you are infected, soap, even dilute soap, would kill the virus. 
Your second question is also zero risk.  There has to be a certain amount of virus present to infect someone and that also holds true for autoinoculation.  Your experiences just don't meet the criteria for any risk here, even on the wild chance that you have brand new infection and don't know it, which is just highly unlikely.

Herpes seems to be a major concern for you.  May I ask, given your concerns, why you don't ask you boyfriend to be tested to see if he is infected?  If he isn't could you relax quite a bit more about this?

Terri
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43 months ago
Yes, I would certainly not worry about this anymore if I knew for sure that he was not infected. Unfortunately, he does not have health insurance so, currently, this is not an option. I genuinely do not believe that he IS infected, but because there is no test I find myself wondering "what if" sometimes.

I would like to provide some background and ask another question, but before doing so I would like to recap. So, to be clear:
1) Auto inoculation is hard to do because it requires a certain amount of virus. Because of this, even  if I did have newly acquired HSV2, it would be highly unlikely to infect myself on the face through touching/scratching/rubbing after using the restroom in general, but ESPECIALLY if I wash my hands afterwards. 
2) I used the restroom again today and, using a finger on the hand I used to clean myself, I scratched and rubbed an itch inside my nose (where there are mucous membranes) BEFORE I washed my hands. For the reason above, this is still a zero-risk scenario because there wouldn't be enough virus for infection. In general, I can stop worrying about circumstances like this because it would require more than this interaction to self-infect.

Just one more question:

As you know, I was tested for HSV2 in May of this year, 2017. It was negative .05. The only encounter I had between my negative HSV2 result in 2014 and beginning a sexual relationship with my boyfriend in April 2017, was the experience I described to you in a previous post. I engaged in frottage with a man I was dating. Grinding/dry humping each other while I was wearing leggings. I cannot remember if he was wearing any clothing from the waist down. I believe he was wearing boxers, but let's assume he was naked. You said herpes transmission does not occur through clothing, so this was zero risk and I did not need another blood test to confirm this.  Despite this, like I said above I was tested again and it was negative. I was, however, on Valtrex for 3 months straight prior to this test. I know Valtrex can cause a false negative, but I believe in previous posts you said that is true for NEW infection, that old infection off medication would produce antibodies that continue to be made. Well after the frottage experience, I was not taking Valtrex for roughly 16 months (Nov 2015-January 2017) except for 1-2 days at the time of any given cold sore outbreak.  

3) Because I had enough time to produce antibodies beginning from Nov 2015-Jan 2017 before starting Valtrex  in Feb 2017, coupled with the fact that the frottage experience is not a means for herpes transmission, can I confidently believe my results in May 2017 were truly negative?

**I realize that since I began having sex with my boyfriend in Apr 2017 that these particular results were given too soon to detect any NEW infection from him (if I was even exposed). I am more concerned with knowing I was negative BEFORE my current relationship given my history. If I were to acquire GHSV2 in the future, I will know undoubtedly I received it FROM my boyfriend, whom I genuinely love and would stay with anyway. I just want no doubts that I wasn't the one who will have brought it into the relationship should this issue come up in the future.

2013 and 2014 NEGATIVE HSV2 <.20
ONLY frottage experience in 2015 with leggings on
No oral sex or intercourse of any kind until April 2017 with current bf.

Negative result in May 2017 .05.

I guess the real issue is this for me. I know I came into the relationship STD free (assuming you confirm question 3 to be accurate). My bf is my first sexual partner since 2013, so I have not had to worry about STDs for a very long time.  Having begun a new sexual relationship has brought on anxiety unlike any I have ever known. I simply wish to remain free of disease and, though I do not believe my boyfriend is actually infected, not having a test  causes me to be a hyper-aware, sometimes to a flaw. I appreciate your patience and kindness, as always. I realize my posts are sometimes illogical and driven by fear, but the truth is I am actually a level-headed and successful person and I just want to protect myself. I appreciate you answering my questions both on auto inoculation and for clarifying what I already believe to be accurate. I thank you for everything.
43 months ago
Sorry, I would like to rephrase question 3 to the following:

3) Assuming I WAS infected during frottage in 2015,  because I had enough time to produce antibodies beginning from Nov 2015-Jan 2017 before starting Valtrex  for supression in Feb 2017 can I confidently believe my results in May 2017 were truly negative?

Thanks so much!
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
43 months ago
Yes, you can believe that your results in May were truly negative as the experience that you describe does NOT present a risk for herpes transmission.
You are most welcome

Terri
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