Transmission chances of Herpes Simplex Virus -1


Q: I have recently begun seeing a guy who did inform me that he has genital herpes simplex 1. I accepted his honesty and went ahead with the relationship, entering into a sexual relationship as well. His last out break was in July, 7 months ago, and has not had an outbreak since. There were no visible sore or bumps on his penis upon inspection but I did perform oral sex on him, without a condom, and had vaginal intercourse, with a condom. This all occurred within the last 24 hours. From what I read outbreaks for those with genital herpes simplex 1 are rare and far between and thus the chances for passing it on to a partner decreases. I wanted to be able to treat him as a normal man but now after performing oral sex on him and having vaginal intercourse I am worrying about having it now. I will go to get tested but I believe I have to wait 4-12 weeks for it to show up on an STD test? What are my chances of now contracting genital herpes simplex 1?


A:   There are 2 kinds of herpes simplex strains type 1 and type 2. HSV type 1 generally causes cold sores and as you also mentioned very rarely causes genital herpes. You said your partner has HSV type 1 , however when you inspected the genital and penis area since you did not see any open blisters or sores the chance of you contracting HSV-1 is minimal though not exactly none. The virus is usually shed through the cold sores or blisters which are considered contagious.  However some people who are infected may not show blisters and may spread the virus through other methods like body fluids. Usually if you are infected with the virus small vesicles will erupt about 7-10 days after the initial infection.
There are many ways of checking for HSV infection. In patients with ulcers a viral culture can be performed along with a cell smear. However this takes long to show th result. You can get tested for Antibodies to the HSV ( ie serology testing )  for which you would have to wait for which you may have to wait 4 weeks for the antibodies to be formed.
In the mean time i would advice you to practice safe sex, to abstain from sex if lesions/ vesicles are present on the genital area and keep a look out for symptoms of HSV1 which include tingling , burning in the area followed by vesicle eruption.

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