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Telling past partner about HSV-1?

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Hi all,

I have a question regarding the ethics of disclosing HSV-1 status to a past partner.

I broke up with my girlfriend in April of 2022. A little over a year later, I had what I suspect was my first genital outbreak.

I say "suspect" because I went to urgent care at the time and the doctor waved it off as being another skin condition. I also tested negative for both HSV types via an IGG blood test at the time, which I thought was conclusive since I haven't been sexually active with anyone since my ex, but later discovered how unreliable these tests can be, especially in regard to HSV-1.

My symptoms resolved but, since I couldn't figure out what else they could be, I decided to schedule a virtual appointment with Terri Warren. I showed her some pictures and she thought they looked a lot like herpes and recommended confirmatory testing. I tested positive for HSV-1 on the Western Blot a few weeks later. Although Terri noted that my symptoms were suspicious of GHSV, when I asked how to disclose in the future, she recommended just saying that I have the cold sore virus and may have had symptoms down there but am not certain.

Although I plan on disclosing going forward, I'm a bit conflicted about whether I should text my ex gf 16 months after a tough breakup, which I think she resents me for. I suspect she may have given it to me, since she had "acne breakouts" around her mouth that sometimes looked like cold sores, but I'm definitely not sure about that, and I find it hard to believe that I hadn't at least contracted it orally before meeting her. 

I guess I'm just wondering how HSV-1 differs from HSV-2 in regard to communicating with past partners. I know the majority of the population has the cold sore virus, and part of me feels like it would be ridiculous to text her about this and that it might drum up some really negative feelings overall.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So sorry I missed this one, @Rob72723! Are you still around and need an answer to this?

Note: This is for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis.
I'm not a medical professional, so please take this as friendly peer support. 

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Not an overshare at all, @Rob72723! I've just been super busy and missed it, my apologies. 🙏

Navigating the ethical waters of disclosing can be a bit murky. It sounds like you're treading thoughtfully, and that's what counts.

When it comes to HSV-1, it's true that a huge chunk of the population has it (anywhere between 47-80%, depending on which reliable source you pull from). Cold sores, yup, they're not exactly a rarity. Now, disclosing to past partners is a whole different story. If you suspect she might have given it to you, well, it's a bit of a maze. It's a personal call, really. 16 months down the line from a breakup – that's a hefty chunk of time. And reopening old wounds could be a can of worms. However, if she's blissfully unaware that she could pass this virus to future partners, it could be seen as a civic duty to at least educate her on that point. 

I'd say, consider these: How sure are you about her having it, and how certain are you that she's the one who gave it to you? How might this disclosure impact her, considering the past breakup? Would it provide clarity or just stir up negative vibes?

But hey, Terri's advice on disclosing sounds pretty practical. If you do decide to do it, maybe framing it as "I might have had something going on down there, but I can't be entirely sure" could be the middle ground. The key is being open, honest, and respectful. Because hey, that's the kind of relationship you ultimately want to have, right?

  • Thanks 1

Note: This is for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis.
I'm not a medical professional, so please take this as friendly peer support. 

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