[Question #592] Question based on question #588: Herpes from massage by touching outbreak

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98 months ago
Dear Dr Hook,

As you predicted, I started a new question. I am sooooo sorry about being so annoying. 
I have been reading another forum today, and there was a patient who claimed that he contracted HSV 2 through mutual masturbation. He said that the person he encountered with has hsv 2, and his parter does not.  The following is his response in the forum.

"In my personal case I acquired it with no intercourse, I touched his genitals then touched mine. It was not a light stroke, moré like mutual masturbation.

I took the igg Elida test and had negative results at 2,4 and 6 weeks it essential until my 9th week post encounter that I had a positive.

I think your chance of having herpes is very low. I suggest you test again at 12-14 weeks just to make sure your still negative."

"Yes it was a big jump from 6th to 9th week, but all that time I felt symptoms, tingling in my thights,burning and a lot of discomfort I couldn't sit for long periods of time. I knew something had to be wrong even if my treat were being negative."

The following is his test result timeline

"Test results

encounter January 30

1st test


Igg 0.18 (negative)

2nd test

date 02/26/15

igm - negative

igg 0.18 (negative)

3rd test

date 03/16/15

igg 0.19 (negative)

4th test

date 04/03/15

igg 2.13 positive"

I don't know if you have the time to read through that post, but here is the link: http://patient.info/forums/discuss/worried-about-herpes-426820?page=0#1439767

Is it considered as a case that proves mutual masturbation imposes a risk for hsv 2? 

I am sooooo sorry again. 

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H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
98 months ago
I reviewed your discussions with Terri Warren and Dr. Hook and agree with their advice. This is my second reply. If you read my previous one, you will realize I misinterpeted your question -- didn't realize you were citing another online case by someone else, not your own testing experience. My apologies for any confusion. However, it does not at all change my opinion or advice, or that you have received from the others.

The case you cite is definitely not clear evidence of HSV2 acquired by hand-genital contact. First, his symptoms are not from herpes, which does not cause tingling, burning, or genital area "discomfort" in the absense of visible outbreaks. It's a persistent urban myth, that's all. Second, his positive test after several weeks is not conclusive -- only ELISA ratios of 3.5 and higher are definitely positive. The HSV blood tests are not perfect and often give false positive results, especially in the low range as this person had -- which is why experts recommend against HSV testing except when the risk is high (which his and yours were not) or symptoms are typical. 

Third, let's go ahead and assume he is correct and that later testing confirms that he has a new HSV2 infection, and further that the hand-genital exposure was the only possible source; and that hand-genital contact may very rarely transmit herpes. So what? If so, I would put it in the same range of risk as being struck by lightning. When you read a news story about someone being killed by a lightning strike, does it change your risk of being struck or make you more worried about it? Or do you raise your eyebrows in mild interest, shrug, vow to not point your golf club at the sky during the next thunderstorm, and go on with your life?

It is definitely time for you to move on with your life. And as Dr. Hook already advice, for goodness' sake stop searching other forums or other internet sources about herpes. You're obviously being attracted to information that inflames your unwarranted fears, and not "seeing" the reassuring information that also is there.

Regards--  HHH, MD