February 20, 2021 at 7:42 pm #72868user8Participant
Trigger warning: childhood sexual abuse
Hello and thank you for your help.
I was with a man for 6 years who contracted ghsv1 from his abuser at age 5 or 6. He did not know this until age 30 when he had a major outbreak, at which point he realized he had experienced this exact outbreak as a young child (which had gone undiagnosed and untreated at that time). His suspicion was confirmed with a positive test result.
This means that the virus was dormant for ~25 years! He had no idea, and obviously this was a very traumatic realization for him on top of the fact that he then had to tell me he had herpes.
We had unprotected sex for 5 years before this came to light, and used protection after his diagnosis, up until we stopped seeing each other.
(Two years into our relationship, I developed a small itchy rash high up on my pubic area with one sort of dominant bump that lasted for a week or two. I was unable to get an appointment in time to have it looked at before it healed, and regret not seeking urgent care.)
I am now beginning a relationship with someone new, and we have *not* had sex yet. I have a lot of anxiety over whether I may be shedding genital or oral hsv1 without symptoms. When I asked a doctor about this, they discouraged me from taking the blood test because there are so many false positives, and they told me to just wait and see if I ever have an outbreak they can swab.
Bottom line is I don’t want to move forward sexually with (or even have to tell this story to) my new partner until I know my status for sure. I do have an appointment to see my obgyn for an STI panel in a couple of weeks, but I want to be more informed beforehand.
So I guess if I were to simplify this to one question — do you think I should take the western blot test as well as the blood test? I feel very discouraged in this situation and appreciate any guidance as I want to move forward in my relationship. Thank you!
February 21, 2021 at 12:29 pm #72885Terri WarrenKeymaster
The western blot is a blood antibody test, just a far better one than the IgG test, particularly for HSV 1.
The issue is that if you come up positive for HSV 1, you will not be able to know if it is oral or genital. So knowing that, do you think you would find the test helpful?
HSV 1 genital infection does rarely recur so I’m not shocked that there was a long interval between his outbreaks. I am assuming that he had a swab test to tell him it was genital HSV 1, not a blood antibody test (because that wouldn’t say if it was oral or genital). Also, do you know if he had a blood test and swab test at the same time to absolutely determine that this was new infection and that it wasn’t recently acquired (assuming he was not receiving oral sex from anyone at the time). I’m not saying at all that he doesn’t have genital HSV 1 or that he was not abused, just trying to clarify the situation a bit more specifically as these things can get all mixed in together sometimes. I hope you don’t mind my asking for these details and you may not even know them.
February 21, 2021 at 1:40 pm #72891user8Participant
Thank you Terri, I have no problem answering your questions.
They did the IgG test during his outbreak, no swab because they said it was such a classic presentation and he had the nerve pain and everything. They just didn’t think it was necessary. He scored 27.2 on the index for HSV1 and negative for HSV2. Within two or three months, he had another outbreak that was almost just as bad. I understand this is unusual?
It is known by the family that the abuser had oral HSV1, and oral abuse occurred daily for 8 years until his arrest. It just really seems like based on my ex’s childhood memory of the sores and nerve sensations that it was an outbreak he experienced back then. (He and I were monogamous the whole time we were together and we’d been together 5.5 years before this outbreak.)
I’ve never had a cold sore on my mouth, but about 3 years ago I did have a sore on my nostril that didn’t fully heal for over a year. It would get very irritated and ooze and crust, act like it was healed for a few days or a week or two, then come back. It was only limited to one spot on my nose about the size of a pea. Does that sound like herpes?
Thinking back, I’ll also say that once my ex’s sores healed after his two outbreaks, we did not know that the virus can shed without sores being present. There were times when we were confident he was healed that we had unprotected sex. It was only later that I learned how risky this is and we started using protection.
You make a good point, I don’t know if the tests will be of value to me. I just want to be safe and am depressed because I do not enjoy sex with condoms and they are irritating and I hurt afterwards even with enough lubrication. My new partner is clean. I don’t know what the best thing to do is. What are the odds that I would pass HSV1 to him, orally or genitally, if I do have it?
February 22, 2021 at 6:15 pm #72903Terri WarrenKeymaster
Thank you for answering these questions, I know that may not have been easy. it does sound like his history is consistent with HSV 1, yes.
the sore in your nostril could have been herpes, but herpes outbreaks don’t last for a year.
I think if you did the western blot, you could know if you were infected or not, not where, but that maybe give you some good information about your future sex practices. For example, if you tested positive, you could make partners aware you have the cold sore virus and if they are actually not infected with HSV 1, you could consider taking daily antiviral medicine to reduce transmission. Your call. Just brainstorming here.
When you say that your new partner is “clean” what does that mean? His IgG is negative for both HSV 1 and 2?
HSV 1 is very rarely transmitted via intercourse. We have not specific data on HSV 1 transmission.
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