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Scared to pass it to my partner

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Genital HSV-1 is harder to transmit to partners than genital HSV-2 for a few reasons:

  • HSV-1 prefers to be in the mouth region, not the genitals, so it sheds much less (3-5% for genital HSV-1 vs 15-30% for genital HSV-2 vs 9-18% for HSV-1 oral) — download the handouts here for a full breakdown: https://www.herpesopportunity.com/lp/ebook
  • Most people already carry HSV-1 because most people get cold sores, so they already have antibodies that will be another line of defense against contracting it (does your partner get cold sores and has s/he been tested lately for HSV?)
  • If you're taking suppressive medication, then that cuts viral shedding in half (if you use condoms, that cuts the risk in half yet again)

So be careful with your partner, but don't be paranoid. 🙂

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Thank you for replying. 

No she does not have HSV & has been tested.

I’m scared because I contracted it 5 months ago but been on regular treatment for 4 months & Suppressive for about 3 weeks now. 

I know we’re definitely going to have sex next month & I wouldn’t want her contracting it.

Overall it seems as if being that it is my first year, I’m a higher risk regardless of the antivirals?

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For the first 6 months to a year, your body is busy building up antibodies to help suppress the virus naturally so yes, the closer to the day you get herpes the less natural defenses you will have. But antivirals will still cut the transmission rate in half. I'm assuming you've disclosed to her? How did that go down and what are her feelings about it? 

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She’s my Bestfriend so she was one of the first I told. We grew even closer with me being diagnosed. She’s okay with it. 

I just don’t want to transmit it to her, but we want to have unprotected sex.

So, with me being 4 months in of being diagnosed & taking Suppressive for 2 months, what would you think the percentage of me transmitting it, during unprotected intercourse. (GHSV1)

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Aw, that’s awesome! There isn’t any data around genital HSV-1 transmission, but you can assume a few things based on genital HSV-2 transmission and what we know about viral shedding rates.

There would be a 5% chance of transmitting genital HSV-2 to her if you are on suppressive therapy and want to go unprotected.

Genital HSV-1 shedding rates are about 1/5 of genital HSV-2 — see all the facts in the handouts here: https://www.herpesopportunity.com/lp/ebook — so it’s safe to assume there is much less of a chance of transmission. Some experts like Terri Warren have said that they don’t think it can even be transmitted genitally (over 50% of all genital HSV-1 cases are from oral sex).

Some other helpful facts to put these risks in perspective is that unintended pregnancy with condoms carries about a 2-15% risk per year and the risk of dying in a car accident is about 2% per year (morbid, I know, but drives home the point that we take on much bigger risks every day without even considering it). 

Now go enjoy yourself. It sounds like something beautiful is happening. 🙂

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If a partner has had cold sores are they really much much less likely to get GHSV1 - are there studies on this...I’ve found conflicting info

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