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Prevention, decisions, and continuing a relationship.


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My partner possibly acquired GHSV-2 in late July. We've been operating under the assumption that she did acquire it, although there has been no confirmation yet. I asked her to get tested back then, but as I've read on this forum, it takes twelve to sixteen weeks before antibodies build up to a point where it's detectable by any tests, so it looks like it was wrong of me to ask that of her. That three to four month delay means moving a possible test into late October or even as far as late November. 

From what I've read, doctors will only prescribe suppressive therapy if repeated outbreaks occur; this is in spite of asymptomatic carriers still being capable of transmitting the virus to those who do not have the virus. If I understand correctly, suppressive therapy are able to decrease the probability of transmission by more than half. To go off on a brief tangent, I don't know how it can possibly be considered a sound medical practice to recommend avoiding suppressive therapy to someone who has tested positive for any form of HSV and who poses a risk of transmitting HSV to someone else, whether or not they are asymptomatic. 

While a male or female condom does decrease the transmission probability by half, I can't see how that would help in all cases of female-to-male GHSV-2 transmission since the area around the genitals can also be sites for virus transmission, especially if genital fluids manage to get around a female condom. 

I mention this because I don't feel safe having sex with her until the test results are either negative or if they're positive, waiting until she's on suppressive therapy. I haven't seen her since July. I don't know whether or not she's continued to have sex with the person she possibly acquired it from, which would increase the probability of acquiring GHSV-2 if she didn't already get it the first time. She didn't have an OB within twelve days of the initial exposure, but one, it could be dormant and not everyone has an OB within twelve days, and two, if she's continued to have sex with the GHSV-2 carrier that we do know tested positive, then it continues to push the most probable OB window out another twelve days every time. Like I said at the beginning of this post, we're operating under the assumption that she already has it, which means not avoiding sex with her GHSV-2 partner. 

I want to support her and continue a relationship with her, but one that doesn't involve sex until the unknowns are settled. I don't know if I can keep the relationship going for the two to three months between now and when the test will happen. She disclosed to me almost immediately once she knew she'd been exposed by her partner (they had sex prior to knowing that he was a carrier that at the time was asymptomatic; I don't know if he's become symptomatic since then). 

When I had told her I wanted to wait until she was on suppressive therapy to have sex, she wanted to break up with me. All I've done so far is buy some more time by saying I needed time to think things through and eventually we could return to having sex. Our current relationship is tenuous, unstable, and strained: she wants to have sex with me, I want to have sex with her, but I want to find some way of having safer sex with her. Our relationship is more than just sex of course, but sex is a major part of it--if that goes away, the whole thing is destabilized and will eventually collapse if it's not brought back. 

The situation is further complicated: she doesn't intend to ever go on suppressive therapy regardless of the outcome of the tests in two to three months. That means the only feasible way of avoiding acquiring GHSV-2 from her is to just not have sex with her again, which would end the relationship. 

I don't know what my next course of action is in the short or long term. The only way I see this resolving in a way that both continues our relationship and doesn't expose me to GHSV-2 is if the test is negative in October or November and either never has sex with her GHSV-2 positive partner again (which is definitely not going to happen), or if the test is negative and her partner goes on suppressive therapy (which is a big maybe; if she doesn't go on therapy, I don't know if her partner would or even could go on therapy). 

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Hi Joel, I was diagnosed by sight for hsv a few weeks ago. My symptoms began in April of this year, and since they appeared my partner and I have refrained from any sex. We plan on waiting to have sex until I get results from the Western blot test, but it's being held up because my doctor refuses to order one.

The last few months of waiting and no conclusive answers have been frustrating and painful for both of us, so I understand your frustration. 

I totally agree with you that doctors are irresponsible regarding treatment of hsv, and the more I read and interact with them its clear they don't know much about it in general--whether it's diagnosis or treatment. 

For your relationship it seems like you may have already made your mind up deep down about your plan of action. There's nothing more I fear than giving this to my partner if it turns out I do have hsv, so I don't think you should feel bad about wanting to protect yourself. 

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Hi Joel,

I want to be sure I'm clear. She was Exposed to HSV-2. She hasn't had an outbreak, and she hasn't tested positive. So why are you operating on an assumption that she's positive? If she was exposed and has had zero symptoms in the window after exposure, then the assumption would be that she didn't get it from the guy she slept with. And using protection is always a good idea no matter what, especially in a new relationship.

Also, if she's your girlfriend (?), then why would she still be having sex with the guy who has tested positive? If she's with him, and willing to take the risk, then cool...but if she's supposed to be with you, why would she be having sex with someone that she's not with, especially knowing that he has it, she could be exposed, and wants to be with you? If you aren't sure if she is or not, then that tells me that you probably already have some trust issues and I would recommend breaking off whatever the relationship is.

I tested HSV-2 positive almost 2 years ago. I did not go on any meds for it. I've been with my SO for almost 2 years now. He and I met a few months after I got my positive test. He has known about it since our very first date. He loves me for me and is not afraid of the potential to get HSV from me. After almost 2 years, he is still negative. 

Your situation honestly sounds much more complicated than just the fact that she may have been exposed. It sounds like she continues to sleep with the guy who exposed her. I guess I'm just not sure why you would want to be with a woman who is having sex with other people...no matter if she has HSV or not. 

I would honestly let this girl go and find someone who will be only with you. And if you don't want to have sex with this particular girl again until she's on meds, and she refuses (assuming she ends up being positive), then you already know you should let this one go.

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Thank you Confused12 and 100918 for your comments. I've been needing some kind of input and feedback with these issues and your comments are helpful and give me something to reflect on. 

 

We're both operating under the assumption, not just one of us. I'm deferring to this forum and to any experts who have a better guess on whether or not she might currently be a carrier. 

 

We're both polyamorous and prior to her other partner testing positive for HSV-2 had been having sex regularly for several months. As far as I'm concerned, if her partner were on suppressive therapy, I'd be fine with continuing both our relationship as it was and I'd be fine with her relationship with her partner as if her partner had never acquired it. The probability of transmission going through her asymptomatic partner on suppressive therapy to her and then to me would be much lower.

 

Polyamory has its own unique problems, as does monogamy. Really the only breach of trust was that my partner's partner's partner didn't tell (or maybe was asymptomatic) my partner's partner that she had HSV-2 and now that's thrown a monkey wrench in my life. That, or maybe that my partner's partner knew about his partner having HSV-2 and didn't take the precautions that I'm taking right now; I could possibly end up like him. It's like four degrees of separation from HSV-2, now it's been confirmed to be three degrees, and the big unknown is if it's made it to two degrees. 

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