January 16, 2016 at 11:51 am #11470
My husband and I have been together for 35 years, married for 30, in a monogamous relationship. I had two partners before I met him. He had more partners, one of whom passed on HSV-2 to him. I knew he had HSV-2 when I met him, although we had sex without condoms before he told me this. At the time (35 years ago) he told me it was not possible to transmit the virus without sores being present. I accepted this, we went on with our lives, and I don’t think I ever even told any of my doctors that my husband had HSV-2. His outbreaks were frequent and some years later he began antivirals, which was a real blessing. I never had any sign of infection at all. It was many years later before I began to read that the virus could be transmitted even if a person was asymptomatic, but I didn’t do any more research on that topic so I feel responsible, in a way, for what has happened to me. In mid-November 2011, I developed what I thought was a bite on the left side of my neck. I was treated for a spider bite (so my doctors thought), but it took about six months for the mark to disappear entirely. Then in early December 2014, the same thing happened in the same place and took about three months to heal. At the end of October 2015, the same thing happened again, only worse, and it healed up in about two months, but reappeared about a week ago. I was tested (neck swab and blood test). Neck swab negative for HSV-1 and 2, blood test showed about 11 for antibodies to HSV-2, so I think I have my answer. My doctor is not helpful, but I asked to start antivirals. Going to a dermatologist at her insistence. Why is it on my neck, always in fall or winter (I wear turtlenecks a lot), why after so many years has it appeared now, and why is it getting worse? Also, was the accepted wisdom about HSV-2 over 35 years ago that there could be no transmission without sores, or was my husband misinformed? This is really upsetting and confusing for both of us.
January 16, 2016 at 6:31 pm #11476
You were misinformed years ago but honestly the information was limited 30 years ago. NO one can fault this old information because it is all we had years ago. But now we know that people can give off the virus even when they have no symptoms at all.
Your IgG antibody result is substantial. I have no doubt that this is positive. May I ask why you started antiviral therapy? If you and your husband are both infected, there is no need for antiviral therapy in terms of transmission. And I seriously doubt that the thing on our neck is nHSV 2 though it could be HSV 1. But it swabbed negative? interesting. I think it could still be HSV 1..
Tell me why this is most upsetting for you. How is your marriage going?
- This reply was modified 8 years, 1 month ago by Terri Warren.
January 17, 2016 at 1:04 pm #11479
Thank you so much for your prompt reply. I started antiviral therapy because I want to stop these outbreaks. They are painful, cannot be concealed effectively, are irritated by my clothing, and last far longer than HSV-2 lesions are supposed to. In addition, I have no warning until seconds before they appear that anything is wrong. Currently, I have had lesions, healed red spots, and new lesions from October 31, 2015 until today. Just for the record, here are my test results:
HSV-1 IGG = <0.91
HSV-2 IGG = 11.40
HSV 1/2 IGM = <0.91
The swab test my doctor took, as you can see, showed no presence of HSV 1 or HSV 2, but that was the most recent outbreak, which was smaller than the others. My doctor used the incorrect swab when she first took it and I had to return later in the day for another attempt. Maybe that affected the numbers. As of this date, four (4!) different doctors have seen these outbreaks and none of them even thought to test for herpes until this last outbreak, so my frustration level is high.
Why did this start four years ago? Is my immune system crashing? I am otherwise healthy. Why does it only happen in fall and winter? If I had any warning signs, perhaps I could restrict antivirals to just before an outbreak? Or is that useless?
I love my scatterbrained husband, but he only hears half of what is said to him. What upset me was that I went to a dark mental place where I thought my husband listened in his usual distracted way years ago and missed the pertinent information about how herpes is transmitted. Your answer, above, has made me feel better. I’m working on acceptance. And, if I’d tested positive when we were dating, I would have freaked and left him–and that would have been the real tragedy. I even suppose another partner could have transmitted it to me.
I just want to STOP these lesions from appearing. Do you have suggestions other than antivirals? Thank you so much for your help
January 18, 2016 at 8:29 am #11490
You are making several big assumptions here, many of which I think may be in error. The first is that these lesions are herpetic. I seriously doubt that, given the negative swab tests and long duration of the symptoms. The second is that your immune system “crashed”. I also doubt that. If these are caused by herpes, it is normal that you would have recurrences, less normal that you would not. If you had warning, you could treat these with antivirals, just in case, yes.
If you were our patient, we would also be doing bacterial cultures from this area, not just viral swabs. And if we did viral swabs we would use only PCR, never culture – far more sensitive. I think in order to stop them from appearing, you will need to know exactly what they are.
January 18, 2016 at 11:07 am #11496
I think there was a typo in your first answer. Did you mean to say “And I seriously doubt that the thing on your neck IS NOT HSV 2 though it could be HSV 1″ or did you mean to say that “I seriously doubt that thing on your neck IS HSV 2 though it could be HSV 1.” Please clarify. Do antivirals NOT work on HSV-1? Does oral lysine/Abreva work? What does PCR mean?
On November 2nd, my primary care physician did do a bacterial swab on those fresh lesions. That test came back negative for bacteria, and those lesions were big with lots of fluid weeping from them (there were three small ones and a large one in a “T” pattern). I assume from your mentioning PCR swabs that you can tell my doctor did not do that test either time. Do you need fresh lesions for that test? These new lesions have now healed “down” to just red skin. There isn’t anything weeping. Although I am seeing a dermatologist in early February, I don’t know what he can tell me if there are no lesions to culture.
I do want to clarify: the weeping, scaling and itching don’t last for months, but do last for at least six weeks, by which time they are just scaling. Then the red marks last for a month or six weeks more. The original outbreak, in 2011, from first appearance to complete disappearance of red skin was 6 months. Believe me, I counted.
Since I am not in Portland, what sort of doctor is the best to see about this? My insurance only pays for three doctors visits a year and I have used up two of them already treating this.
So, what should I do now? See an infectious disease specialist? Go to a sexual health clinic (however one finds those)?
January 18, 2016 at 11:11 am #11500
You need to have a PCR swab taken when the lesion first comes up and there is plenty of fluid in it.
If you just want to swab using PCR, we can send you PCR swabs that you can gather at the first sign of these blisters, and you can send them back to us and we will notify you of results. We can arrange this if you are a phone patient of the clinic. Really, three doctor visits per year is all you have? That’s terrible!
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