[Question #6253] Herpes virus in vaginal secretions

17 months ago
I have had hsv 2 for many years, getting breakouts about  5 times per year on my left buttock only.  I recently heard from a new potential partner that the virus is detectable in vaginal secretions, even when I’m not symptomatic and I never have outbreaks on my genitals, only my left buttock.  Is this true that the virus is in my secretions all the time, even if I’m not symptomatic and the breakouts never occur on my vagina?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
17 months ago
It is NOT true that you have virus in your genital secretions all the time.  However, it is true that you can give off virus from the genital area, even when you don't have an outbreak anywhere, including the buttocks.  It's called asymptomatic shedding.  People who have outbreaks on the buttocks are shedding virus in the genital area about 25% of the time when they are having buttocks outbreaks and the virus can be given off from the genital area also when there are no outbreaks anywhere.  To reduce the risk of transmission, you can take daily antiviral medicine and have your partner use condoms. Those two measures will reduce the transmission rate to about 1-2%, having vaginal intercourse about twice a week.  Please let me know what other questions you may have, OK?  It seems like this news might be quite an unpleasant surprise for you?

Terri
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17 months ago
Hi Terri, thanks for your response.  So what I just learned is good to know that my secretions are not full of  the virus.  But to clarify, am I shedding the virus all the time, 25%, even if I’m not symptomatic?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
17 months ago
No, you are probably shedding, on average, 20% of total days, whether you are symptomatic or not.  Not all shedding results in transmission, also, but you just can't know exactly when that is, is the big problem.

Terri
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