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Safe sex practices to prevent herpes spread

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Started a new relationship and just found out she has HSV2, we have not been intimate yet. I’m a male, my plan was to wear condoms and ask her if she is taking daily antivirals. 

I’ve never had any symptoms of HSV1 or HSV2 and understand I may have it and never know. I also understand condoms are roughly 30 percent effective. 

Is there anything else I can do to protect myself from getting the virus? 

Are their positive stories of people with HSV2 that have been in long term intimate relationships and have not spread it to their partners? 

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Hi @freestyyle1983

It's great to see you taking a responsible and informed approach to this situation. It's totaly possible to have a healthy and fulfilling relationship when one partner has herpes and the other doesn't (called "serodiscordant"). In fact, my wife and I have been together for a decade and she hasn't gotten herpes yet (and we have a kid together). Communication and precautions are key.

Wearing condoms is a good start as they do provide some level of protection. Daily antiviral medication can also significantly reduce the risk of transmission because it brings down the rate of asymptomatic viral shedding (by 50-80%). Discussing this with your partner and ensuring she's taking the prescribed medication is a wise move.

In addition to condoms and antivirals, it's essential to be aware about any signs of an outbreak on your partner. Avoiding intimate contact during an outbreak can further reduce the risk of transmission. Also important for her to be aware of any potential prodrome symptoms and abstain from sex during those times as that may be a signal that an outbreak is coming. 

There are many positive stories of couples where one partner has HSV2, and they have been in long-term relationships without transmission. It's a matter of understanding the virus, taking precautions, and being supportive of each other.

Remember, while there's a risk, it's not a guarantee that you'll contract HSV2. Especially since you're a man, you actually are 50% less likely than a woman to get herpes (the penis has less mucous membrane than the vagina, so more barrier to entry). Even without any medication or barrier protection, there is a 10% chance of passing herpes to a woman, and 4% chance to a man (per year). With medication and protection, it brings the chances of transmission down to 2.5% to women and 1% to men. See the free ebook and handouts for more details on transmission rates. (For comparison’s sake ... There’s a 2-15% chance of unintended pregnancy with condoms and a 1.8% chance of death from a car accident.) So yeah, it's a smaller chance than we might initially assume. 

Many couples successfully manage the situation and have loving, fulfilling relationships. In fact, when I first got herpes, I thought herpes would be a big brick wall to intimacy. It's been anything but. It's actually been more of a doorway to vulnerability, openness and trust with my partner. Go figure. So keep the lines of communication open with your partner, stay informed, and make decisions together that you're both comfortable with. Enjoy!

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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  • mr_hopp changed the title to Safe sex practices to prevent herpes spread

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