“Am I a Herpes Carrier?”

If you’ve ever been tested for an STD, you know how nerve-wracking it can be to wait for the results…and when the results come back negative, it’s a huge relief.

But what if you find out that – while you have tested negative – your monogamous partner has tested positive? Then, years later, it happens again. Your current monogamous partner tests positive, but you test negative. That’s exactly what happened to one of our callers…to protect his anonymity, let’s call him Don.

Don was concerned that he might be a herpes carrier…specifically, a carrier of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2). Although he had been tested for herpes several times, always with negative test results, both his ex-wife and current girlfriend tested positive for the virus. He had never cheated on either woman and he was certain that they hadn’t cheated on him. So Don was concerned that he might actually be positive for HSV-2, even though his test results were consistently negative…in which case he might have unintentionally spread the virus to others.

Our Medical Director – Lisa Oldson, MD – confirmed that Don is not an HSV-2 carrier, but that it’s possible for a person to have sex with people who are positive and not contract the virus.

According to Dr. Lisa:

“The risk of contracting genital herpes is about 10% in a year for uninfected women with an infected male partner, and about 4% in a year for uninfected men with an infected female partner. If 100 infected men have one-on-one sex with 100 uninfected women in a year, 10 women would likely contract genital herpes. If the situation is reversed, about 4 men would get genital herpes in a year. These stats are based on the following criteria:
  • No sex during herpes outbreaks
  • No daily antiviral medication
  • No regular use of condoms by men
So [Don] has about a 4% chance in a year of catching genital herpes from his infected partner. He can lower his risk by using condoms every time they have sex, and by having his infected partner take a daily antiviral medication, like valacyclovir (Valtrex). The couple should also definitely avoid sex if she has an outbreak…but remember that herpes can be spread even when there are no symptoms of an outbreak.”

Dr. Lisa also advised Don to continue to get tested annually and watch for sores on his genitals…in which case he should seek medical attention immediately.

What’s your question about STDs or testing? We’d love to hear from you (866.660.2593). Each of our Care Advisors is a certified sexual health counselor…along with our staff of doctors, we can provide you the most well-informed answers to your questions.

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Article by Ritter Rudesind

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