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"GHSV-1 shedding rates declined to 1.3% after two years"

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I came across this statistic on reddit. Does anyone know how accurate it is. More so, for me, for HSV 2.

I caught HSV2 either 2 years ago or over 20 years ago! And I am asymptomatic.
BUT I am very worried about passing it to my partner.

So how does it work? If I have no outbreaks (for either 2 or 20 years), does that mean that there is only a 1.3% chance of passing it on per year, or every time we have sex?

I've seen this sort of statistic before but I'd love to understand it better.... because I'm thinking if that's per year, and I add condom use to the mix and anti virals, that would mean an annual chance of 1 in 5000 chance  each year?!?! (based on 50% reduction with anti virals and 96% effectiveness of condoms in male to female). Can that be right? Dare I hope?


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Great question. Reddit can be very unreliable, so it's always great to fact-check any data you get from there. Cross-referencing from reliable, scientific-backed sources always is a good idea, even with other scientific sources! 

I have also heard that the risk of transmission reduces as time passes, however how much it reduces, I would imagine, depends on the person. I am not sure if that 1.3% chance is an accurate percent!

Also, using condoms and antivirals are awesome protective measures, especially if you are asymptomatic. 

According to a 2011 article published on the National Institute of Health Database, "HSV-2 shedding may also decrease over time, as 2 studies demonstrated that subclinical shedding rates declined by approximately half after the first year of infection [6, 8]. Despite these observations, detailed data on genital HSV-2 shedding many years after herpes acquisition are limited." 

Here is the article if you wanted to read it!: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3058740/

The World Health Organization reports that, "The frequency of outbreaks tends to decrease over time but can occur for many years." 

Here is the article from WHO if you wanted to read it!: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/herpes-simplex-virus (the quote is under "signs and symptoms").

I hope this helps!




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Thanks Grace.

There are various places doing research although any cure/vaccination is I think at least 5 years off, and that is presuming it is successful, which it may not be. But it certainly gives me hope.

Regarding the 1.3% figure, or even the 10% figure I've heard as a generalisation for shedding. What does that mean. That every time I have sex there is a 1 in 10 chance my partner will catch it? Or That I am shedding?
Or is it an annual probability?

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  • 3 weeks later...

The 10% figure means that it is estimated that, without taking any medication, that you will be shedding 10% of a given year. That doesn't mean every time you have sex there is a 10% chance of transmission, because even if you are shedding that doesn't 100% guarantee transmission.

Basically, 10% of the year you have a risk of transmitting HSV, the other 90% of the year (barring any outbreaks) you have no risk of transmitting HSV. Sadly we have no way to pre-emptively detect shedding and to know what our situation is when we go to have sex. An actual statistician could probably calculate the real probability of transmission per-time having sex.

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