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Experienced symptoms but negative tests - should I keep testing or should I disclose?


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Hi there,

3 years ago (Female, 19 at the time) I had unprotected sex once with a much older person (who had multiple partners at the time), and days later i experienced all the symptoms of hsv2:

  • tingling and pain in vagina
  • constant need to pee (but also pain when i did pee)
  • felt like i had a constant wedgie 
  • flu like symptoms
  • a single sore (painful but no scabbing - it just disappeared)

STI nurse took one look and said its genital herpes, and prescribed me with a 5 day course of antivirals (symptoms cleared up within 3 days) however my swab test on the active sore and blood test came back negative - I wasn't sexually active so I kind of let the situation go.

Fast forward to now, i'm 22 and want to become sexually active again. I haven't had any outbreaks or symptoms since my initial one, and recently got a negative IGG blood test. 

I just don't believe my symptoms could've been anything else (I had a plantar wart on my foot at the same time so doctor said it might be HPV/genital warts) and just a coincidental flu/UTI, but I'm just not convinced. Should I assume it is hsv and start disclosing, or do I assume I don't have it? I've called helplines countless times and seeked advice from STI nurses/doctors however they tell me I've already done all I can and there's no point arguing with negative tests (however i am aware of the false negative rates!)

I'm going to look into getting a Western Blot (but I'm in Australia so not sure if it is as available as in the USA)

Please could I have some advice! Should I be telling any future partners I could potentially have it? Or should I assume I don't have hsv and not disclose anything?

 

TLDR: all symptoms of hsv2 years ago, negative swab and blood test done at the time, negative IGG 3 years later. Do i assume i have hsv or no?

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Hello!

First, I love your username. Donuts are a happy treat indeed! ❤️ 

Second, please know I understand your situation. I also contracted H from an older boyfriend when I was 19, and it was a traumatic experience to say the least. Please know you are not alone and this doesn't define you at all ❤️  You are strong! You are beautiful! You are a blessing and you deserve love and respect ❤️ !!!

This is a great question, and so many people are in situations where they aren't sure if they need to disclose because of testing. 

To provide the best answer, I want to ask what the single sore looked like. Did it have a white center? Did it go through a cycle of healing? I know you said it did not scab, but did it ooze at all? Was it painful or itchy? 

Because you have only had what seems like one single outbreak, it is possible you have GHSV-1, which tends to be more mild than GHSV-2. The location of the herpes doesn't give the virus its distinction, but instead the strain of the virus. That's why we write is GHSV-1 (since it's in the genital region!) Similarly, if someone had HSV-2 in the oral region, we would call it OHSV-2.

I have HSV-1 in my genital region, which I believe I got from oral sex. I have had it for four years, and have only had about 3 outbreaks. So, if you do have H, it is possible that it is HSV-2 OR HSV-1!

In regards to the first interaction with the nurse who took the swab test and blood test that came back negative: She should have said it could be HSV-1 or HSV-2 instead of the broad term "genital herpes." Swab tests can come back negative if there isn't enough viral culture swabbed, and because we cannot see the amount of the virus on the swab stick, this type of test can be prone to human error. Sometimes there just isn't enough swabbed for the test to detect the virus! She most likely did an IgM blood test because an IgG test takes 12+ weeks to be valid. It takes 12+ weeks for the body to build up detectable numbers of IgG antibodies. However, blood tests can also be misread, regardless of when they are taken! 

In regards to HPV: HPV typically does not have symptoms, and if someone does have HPV symptoms, it is typically a wart-like bump (and no burning or the symptoms you described). There are so many strains of HPV and so many people never show symptoms, and some strains do not cause the bumps!  If you have ever been to a gynecologist and have received a PAP smear, they test for HPV. Also, if you have never been to a gynecologist, definitely book an appointment with one, since we are at the age to start seeing one, especially if you want to be sexually active. I just saw mine for the first time last summer when I was 22 (I'm now 23!). 

How to Disclose: Talking about health is important when choosing to be intimate with another person. Of course we are being emotionally vulnerable, but intimacy has the element of physically vulnerability, which means we should talk about STI-related health with partners before choosing to be intimate with them. Since you have not received a definitive test result, you could explain it like this:

"I care about you so I want to share this information with you. When I was 19, I dated someone much older and after having sex, I experienced an infection of sorts. I had burning, issues urinating, etc, and one single sore appeared. I suspect that it is herpes, although I am unsure what kind. [They might not know about types of H so you may need to explain this here]. I've been tested 3 times but the results came back negative, but false negatives are always possible, and I do believe I have H. I have not had any outbreaks since I was 19. Herpes is very common, and it is nothing to be afraid of, but being honest about things is important and I respect you. Because I suspect I have herpes, let's play it as if I do have it just to be safe. Condoms help reduce transmission by half, so the risk of me passing my H to you is about 2% if we use protection, and that is for GHSV-2. the risk of transmission for GHSV-1 is typically less. If you need time to think about this or you have any questions, that is totally fine." 

The Western Blot is at the University of Washington in Washington State, USA. I know someone on here has sent a sample over to them and was not from the USA -- whoever you are, explain how you did it 😄 !!!

I hope this helps! If you have any questions or need any support, feel free to reach out!

Sending blessings and prayers your way! 🙂❤️ 

grace 

 

 

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