[Question #491] Sexual Activity With HSV 2

44 months ago
My girlfriend and I recently started dating. She asked me to get an STD test before we had any sexual activity. She routinely gets tested. I hadn't in years. I came up positive for HSV 2. I had no idea I had it. We want to work through this and continue dating. What kind of sexual activity can we practice that's safe? I'm taking Valtrex daily, 500mg to suppress....but even with that and the use of condoms, it seems there is still a chance to transmit to her, even if its small. I'm a 39 year old, divorced man with 2 kids. She is a 29 year old women who's never had kids, so she is super scared to even touch me. What can we do? Obviously oral and intercourse has the risks, so what doesn't? Mutual masturbation? I'm a very sexual person so this is very difficult and has been demoralizing.
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
44 months ago
Tell me - what was the index value (the number) associated with your positive antibody test?  Sometimes, if the value is between 1.1 and 3.5, it is a false positive result.  let's assume for a moment that you are truly infected.  Mutual masturbation is certainly safe, yes.  You can give oral sex to your partner.  But you are correct that both receiving oral sex and having intercourse have some risk.  If you take daily antiviral therapy, become aware of any symptoms and avoid intercourse during those times, use condoms regularly, and have sex about twice a week, the risk of you transmitting HSV 2 to her is really low  - if 100 HSV 2 infected men are having sex with 100 uninfected women for a year, given the above circumstances, about two women out of 100 will become infected in a year.
If she is afraid to even touch you at this point, I think you have a very long road ahead with this woman.  At some point, you two will have to decide that she either wants to take a slight risk of getting herpes  and being with you or not being with you.  There's not other pretty way to put this.  It seems unlikely that you will go through a long life together without sex, right?  Perhaps she can change her view about herpes with more education and information.  I truly hope so.

Terri
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44 months ago
Thank you for your response. I got tested twice to make sure, so yes i definitely have it. She's never come across this situation before, and only lost her virginity at age 24, so i understand her concerns. We spoke about actually sitting down with an STD specialist, face to face, for a consultation so both of us can get the facts behind it, the true risks, what we can and can't do. I know the risks are very minimal for her, if using antiviral and a condom, but she has to make the call on that, i can only present the facts. We are in NYC...do you know any consultants or specialists we can talk to?

Also, I've never had an outbreak. Not even once, which is positive...thus the reason I was very shocked that i do have it. Thanks...
44 months ago
Hello, i am awaiting your reply. I also forgot to mention that both of us do have HSV 1....dont know if that matters....
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
44 months ago
Again, Anthony, it would be very helpful to have the index value on your positive test results - two positives don't mean you can't have a false positive.  This is important.
There was a specialist in NYC named Jeff Gilbert - you can try to find him- he's definitely a herpes expert and you do need to sit down and talk about this.  Her fears are understandable and perhaps can be worked through with time, if you are both committed enough to the relationship.

Terri
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44 months ago
73.31 and 23.60
44 months ago
Also I just called, Dr. Gilbert is not longer there and is retired....any other suggestions? thanks!
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
44 months ago
So those are firm positives, yes.  I thought Jeff might have retired - I'm so sorry, no other good ideas for New York, I'm afraid.  Frustrating, I know.
Terri
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