[Question #7098] Genital Herpes

8 months ago

Is it virtually impossible to spread genital HSV1 to others years after getting it (assuming they aren't immunocompromised)?

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
8 months ago
No it is not impossible.  It is unlikely but definitely not impossible.

Terri
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8 months ago
Should a person who has had genital hsv1 for many years (but with no outbreaks other than the initial) still regularly use Valtrax if their partner whom they sleep with doesn’t have it?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
8 months ago
I think that's an issue that the couple should decide together.  The risk of transmission is very very small BUT if someone is uninfected, they may wish their partner to take suppression as an additional precaution.  Before doing that, it's a good idea to know for sure whether someone is infected.  Since half the population has HSV 1 and probably only 30% know it, antibody testing may be helpful to decide if suppression is actually beneficial.  So honestly, it's more about reassurance than the actual risk of transmission.  That risk, again, is very low indeed.

Terri
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8 months ago
That is good to know. A more important important concern, however, is: If you have genital HSV-1, can you still be prone to sporadic fatal encephalitis later in life? In other words, can some of the virus make its way up to the trigeminal ganglia (even if the sores during the initial outbreak were isolated to the genital area)?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
8 months ago
I don't think we have the specific answer to that question but I would say that would be extremely unlikely.  In addition, fatal encephalitis is EXTREMELY rare.  I wonder if perhaps you've been looking at things on the internet that may lead you to believe that this is a common complication of HSV 1.  It is NOT.  About half the population in the US has HSV 1 and about 1500 cases of herpetic encephalitis a year - so out of about 165 million people, this is a very tiny number of people, right?

Terri
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