[Question #5966] Question on infecting someone

19 months ago

I was diagnosed with herpes over 30 years ago.  I believe it was a swab test, but not certain.  I don’t think I was ever told if it was HSV1 or HSV2. I’ve been in touch with my doctor to see if they can send me those records.  I probably need to be retested to determine which type I have. To be quite honest, I never even knew there were different types until my recent research and by reading Terri Warren’s excellent book.  I also have cold sores.

I was married for a very long time and we both had herpes so it was never an issue.  Since I am now divorced and recently started dating, I became sexually active with my boyfriend a couple months back.   I gave him oral sex twice and he gave me oral sex once.  We never had intercourse.  We did a lot of deep kissing and he fingered me a couple times and then placed his fingers in his mouth.  At the time of these sexual encounters, I was not having an outbreak.  I usually only have an outbreak two-three times per year and treat them as they occur with zovirax cream and Valacyclovir (500 mg).  They only last 2-4 days per episode.

After reading the book, I understand that there is always a chance I could infect someone however, I read that the longer you have herpes there is less shedding and the risk factor is lower.  He did have a blood test two-three weeks after our last encounter and the results were negative for any type of STD or STI.  What is the likelihood of him being infected?

 


Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
19 months ago
Given the limited amount of sexual contact that you've had, I think there is close to a zero chance that he could be infected.  And  yes, people, on average, do shed less virus the longer they are infected.  It would be an excellent idea for you to obtain an IgG test to see what type(s) of herpes you do have.  You can order that yourself online if you wish or go through your health care provider.  I suspect you have both HSV 1 and 2 since you have cold sores and genital infection - did you have cold sores before you had the genital infection?

If you want to reduce the risk of infecting your partner, you should consider the daily suppression with either acyclovir 400 mg twice a day or valacyclovir (Valtrex) 500 once a day.  This will reduce the risk of transmission by almost half. 

Please let me know what other questions you may have.

Terri
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19 months ago
Hi Terri,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.  This forum is great and so helpful.  I was so stressed about the possibility of infecting someone else and feel very reassured by your response.

I have an upcoming doctor's appointment so will inquire about getting retested with your recommended IgG test.  She did give me a RX for daily Valtrex however, I am no longer in a relationship so probably will not take daily.   Jumping into bed with someone was so wrong on my part and it's really hard for someone to trust you after something like that.  I suspect that was part of the reason we are no longer together.  Hugh lesson learned!

According to your book, daily suppression, latex condoms and not having sex while having a breakout greatly reduces the risk of infecting someone.  If I remember correctly, there is only a 2 - 2.5% risk factor if all of these factors are practiced.  Is that just for intercourse or does it also apply to oral sex and deep kissing?

Thanks
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
19 months ago
I would say it is even lower if you do all of those things, honestly.  That's for intercourse.  If you have genital herpes only there is no risk with deep kissing .  And there is no risk of you giving oral sex to someone, and limited risk of someone giving you oral sex.
I'm sorry the relationship didn't work out but there will be others and you'll have a better idea about how to handle herpes in the next one.  It's not easy but you are certainly on the right track.

Terri
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19 months ago
Just to clarify.  For genital herpes only, during intercourse and if someone performs oral sex on me , if I practice daily suppression, use latex condoms (for intercourse)  and do not have sex while having a breakout, the risk factor is less than 2%.

However, I do get cold sores.  So, if I practice the above, what is the risk of me infecting someone if I perform oral sex on them and deep kissing?



Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
19 months ago
Your statistics are correct.  But we don't have data on oral sex from someone who has cold sores.  What we do know is that people with recurrent cold sores (4-6 per year) shed virus on about 1 out of every 4 days swab tested.  That's not the same as transmission but it's kind of a surrogate for transmission, we believe.  But if you are giving oral sex to someone who is also HSV 1 positive, it is an extremely small risk that you would infect them genitally by giving them oral sex as they already have an immune response to this same virus.

Terri
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