[Question #5677] Hsv2 - shedding location and infection risk
21 months ago
I acquired Hsv2 about 24 years ago, with lessons appearing initially on my stomach and then subsequently on my right thigh. I've never had any outbreaks on or around my penis. My last attack was at least 8 years ago, possibly longer.
I'm starting a new relationship and looking to understand and minimise infection risk to my partner. She has had oral herpes since childhood and also tested "moderately high" for hsv-2 in an STI scan done maybe 20 years ago in Singapore (don't know the testing method or score unfortunately).
She's never had any symptoms and I understand that testing for hsv-2 without symptoms being present is fairly unreliable, so, for safety's sake, we're assuming she's not infected.
My primary question is around how /where the virus sheds when no symptoms are present.
Does it shed only from the point where lesions appear during an attack (in my case stomach once and since then only my thigh) or does it shed anywhere along the nerve pathway.
Secondary question is around testing, as she's in the odd situation of almost hoping she's already infected. Australian doctors are reluctant to test for hsv-2 because of the many false positives and the stress and stigma they can create - however she's keen to know if she's already a carrier. Is there a reliable test available for non symptomatic folk?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
21 months ago
Since you had an outbreak on your belly and on your thigh, these areas are innervated by the same nerves that supply the genitals so you would be shedding from the genitals and anal area.
I don't know about the testing in Australia but here, and I'm guessing it isn't much different, we know the numbers associated with false positives pretty well, so we know which people need confirmatory testing. My guess is that that is also true in Australia, as I have order western blots for several people in Australia. I would encourage here to be tested via IGG antibody test. It would be ideal if she too was infected, right?