Dear Ask The Doctor: I have a few questions. First of all, I was diagnosed with HSV2 about 2 years ago. The only affected areas that have ever shown, however, are bumps around my tailbone, and the same place on my bottocks. I take lysine herbal supplement, which seems to keep outbreaks at bay, but occasionally I will get bumps in these areas. I am recently starting to see someone, and I told him about my diagnosis, as to be forward from the get-go. He had never known anyone that had herpes before (though I'm sure he has, just didn't KNOW it) and he took the news very poorly. I am wondering what the chances would be to spread it to a partner, should I continue to take lysine, and perhaps add acyclovir to my medication list. I do not want to add valtrex, because it is VERY expensive, and I can't afford it as a daily medication. I would rather take the affordable acyclovir medication, even if that means I do have to take it more times daily. Also, should we also use condoms, what would that take the risk level to. In a nutshell....with condoms, acyclovir, lysine, and abstinence during the first signs of an outbreak through its full recovery, what would the risk be that I spread this to a partner? One more question...I know there is a growing number of HSV2 cases...do blood tests truly test for this? When I was diagnosed, I was told blood tests were an inefficient tool for this, but I have read elsewhere blood tests are a valid method.
Dear Mary: There are two types of Herpes Virus : Herpesvirus type 1 (HSV-1), which is transmitted primarily by contact with infected saliva and Herpesvirus type 2 (HSV-2) which is usually sexually transmitted, and genital herpes infections are among the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). HSV-1 is the usual cause of what most people call "fever blisters" in and around the mouth and can be transmitted from person to person through kissing. Less often, HSV-1 can cause genital herpes infections through oral sexual contact. The genital sores caused by either virus look the same. Anyone with active disease should avoid any sexual contact when sores are present. Even the use of condoms does not prevent the spread of disease because not all sores are covered by the condom. Remember that individuals with herpes may spread the disease even if they do not realize they have an infection. Even more, they can transmit infection while their disease appears to be inactive and no sores can be visibly seen. Then, if you or your partner is diagnosed with Herpes, the chance of spreading disease is greatest when sores are present, people who have had genital herpes may always be contagious to some degree, even if they have received medical treatment. The virus can become active and be transmitted to a sexual partner even when the skin appears completely normal. For this reason, safe sex practices (use of a condom) should be used between disease outbreaks to lessen the chance of spreading disease to a sexual partner.