[Question #4219] HSV-2 Shedding

30 months ago
Research on asymptomatic HSV-2 shedding uses PCR. How are samples collected? Does the asymptomatic (nonclinical) shedding take place on all the skin area in the genital area or only in localized areas?

If I have no symptoms, can a PCR test show when I am shedding and when I am not shedding?

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
30 months ago
Samples are collected by rubbing the skin with a swab and transporting it to the lab in the correct vial.  For men, the swab is collected from the shaft of the penis and the anus.  For women, from the entire genital area and anus.
A PCR could show shedding yes, but it is expensive and you would have to swab for several weeks to see what is actually going on.  And you would need to identify a provider who would order those swabs for you.

Terri
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30 months ago
If neither of the samples taken from the shaft of the penis or anus tested positive for HSV-2, does that mean that there was no shedding from any other part of the genital area?

If one of those samples tested positive for HSV-2, does that mean there might also be shedding from other parts of the genital area?

Could having sex between a man and a woman and using condom be safe from spreading HSV-2 from the man to the woman?

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
30 months ago
If for no HSV-2 was recovered in the swab, that indicates that there was no herpesvirus present at that time. It does not speak to whether virus maybe shed at other times. If the swab test is positive, that would indicate that there was a viral shedding present at that location and the rest of the shaft of the penis and anus. The scrotum does not normally asymptomatically shed virus as the skin is quite thick.

Terri
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30 months ago
Terri,

Do I understand that asymptomatic shedding in males only takes place on the penis/ penis shaft and around the anus? And not on the butt or the groin or pubic hair region?

Does that mean that a properly used condom on an asymptomatic male would prevent HSV-2 infection of his female partner?

Chris
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
29 months ago
The main site of shedding in the male is the penis,correct.  Outbreaks can happen in other places, waist to mid thigh, but shedding does not occur there because the skin is too thick for virus to be shed.  Condoms used by infected males having sex with uninfected females reduces transmission by 96%

Terri
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