[Question #6754] Risk of contracting genital HSV1 from partner

13 months ago

I (a male) have no Herpes (been tested and have no antibodies).

My partner (a female) has genital HSV1

My partner has only had 1 flare up since initial infection 12 years ago.

Online I read that the risk of me contracting Herpes is around 4% per year.

Would you please be able to provide a more precise annual risk % taking into account the factors mentioned above?

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
13 months ago
I think you are reading statistics about HSV 2, not HSV 1 - a HUGE difference.  Once a person has had HSV 1 genital infection for about two years, the average person only gives off (sheds) virus on four days out of the year.  So after 12 years?  A very low risk.  And a far lower risk from having intercourse with her than receiving unprotected oral sex from someone with frequently recurrent cold sores (they shed HSV 1 on about 25% of days measured.  The risk of transmission to you of HSV 1 through intercourse with this partner is tiny.  Also, the IgG test misses 30% of HSV 1 infections compared to the gold standard herpes western blot so you may well be infected with HSV 1 and the test didn't pick it up.

Terri
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13 months ago

Thanks for your response as it’s a big relief and there is little info on genital HSV-1 online.

Two follow up questions:

-          Is it possible to give rough a percentage of the chance of transmission of HSV-1 from intercourse per year (given all factors I mentioned)?

-          Due to tiny chance of transmission of genital HSV-1 is it safe for us to engage in unprotected virginal & anal sex (I am tested and clear of STDs and she only has HSV-1)?

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
13 months ago
Well, given that people with genital HSV 1 for about 2 years shed virus (so possibly infectious) on about 4 days out of the year, you do the math (not my strong suit).  You keep saying that you are clear of HSV 1, but again, the test is not very sensitive for HSV 1).  But assuming for the moment that you are not infected, you need to make that decision.  For some people, the risk of transmission is so low, they wouldn't consider using a condom.  For others, any risk is too high.  So that must be your decision.  If this were me, I wouldn't give it another thought.

Terri
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