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Asymptomatic herpes & sex? Mitigation w/ alcohol?

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Hi all. My post could really go in "general discussion", but I figure this forum needs christening. :)


My partner just found out he has HSV-2. He's asymptomatic. I'm concerned about our potential sex life. I've commonly read stories of H+ and H- partners having a normal sex life so long as they engage around the outbreaks. But in my case, he doesn't have and has never had any outbreaks. However he surely has viral shedding, which is infectious. How is it A-okay for those with outbreaks to engage normally when they can be shedding at any time? And since we can't see any evidence of my guy's shedding, how could we time/coordinate sex?


I've also thought about other ways to mitigate the risk, and I came across this nih study about different agents inactivating HSV. It seems that rubbing alcohol kills HSV on contact. I'm surprised more research hasn't been put into this. It stands to reason that a genital slathering of rubbing alcohol prior to any sexual activity would render null any shedding issues long enough for a safe session. Thoughts?


(Condom use assumed for this entire post. No drugs.)

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First - welcome to the forum! And yes, this is the perfect category for your question as you are the H- partner ;)


So here's the deal. Yes - he *could* be shedding and right now there is no test or whatever out there to know how much and when he might be shedding. You say he tested positive for H2 - I assume you were also tested? First thing is to make sure you are H- otherwise it wouldn't matter anyway.


You also don't say whether you are M or F (I never assume anything when I meet a new person here ;) ) Risk for M-f transmission is 10%, M-M would be 5%. With condoms cut that by about half. Now if he takes a supressive med as a precaution, halve that again.


So this is how *I* look at it: There is risk in EVERYTHING we do. Just as a perspective,


20% risk of Heart disease (just by LIVING)

14% risk of Cancer (just by LIVING)

2.6% risk of Hospital infections (doesn't stop you from going to hospital when you have to, does it?)

1.2% risk of having a car accident ... 2% of them resulting in death.


Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths in men, and 80% (or 8 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths in women. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer. About 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are caused by smoking. Yet people still smoke!!!!


So all we can do is reduce risk. And you KNOW he has it so you know to use condoms and it's between the two of you if he adds the supressive therapy.


Now regarding rubbing alcohol....well, I dunno about your partner but slathering my genitals with rubbing alcohol would put me right out of the mood if there were any small knicks or pimples, whatever in the area. And while it might kill anything on the surface, he could still continue to shed during intercourse. So it *might* reduce risk a little, but I'm not sure if the discomfort would be worth it in the end.


That said, I don't see how it could do any harm so if you want to try it, well, why not? I'd love to hear about whether it puts a damper on things or if any discomfort it minimal enough to be worth adding this to the mix...certainly I think I can say we females might not be too keen on it (unless we just used it on the outer skin areas) but it could certainly be useful for protecting us from a H+ Male partner given that we are more likely to get it anyway...


Not sure if that helps .....



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Thanks for the welcome and the words WCSD...


I'm female. He and I tested together and I'm H-.


The perspective samples are helpful, but I know at the moment, he'd feel guilty as all get out exposing me to any risk at all. Sure, I could decide to accept the risk. But I'm hoping for an angle that would convince him that the risk could be null. Maybe that angle doesn't exist. And perhaps we're being overly concerned anyway if those ppl w/outbreaks can regularly engage in spite of shedding. Why can't we do the same?


And re: the alcohol, I actually use it on my lady bits regularly with no issue. I use it in place of feminine wipes and even get a bit in the mucous membrane area. Gives a very slight tingle but the main thing is that any and all scent that I may have had is gone. So I do an alcohol slather followed by a water slather and feel like I just took a full on shower. Actually better. And I imagine the application for him would be similarly easy.


I sorely wish there were a way to know more about the shedding process. There must be some DIY way or agent to apply to one's skin to confirm shedding. Or there should be. *sighs*

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Hate to say it but the only way to make the risk Null is to become a Monk :(


I've been in 2 - three year relationships with H- guys and neither got it - for one we just were cautious and the other I took supressive therapy. And he and I engaged in plenty of sex and oral play and to be honest, his immune system wasn't that great :p


If the alcohol works for you and you are already using it, then I'd keep using that - you may want to wash with it afterwards as well seeing as it doesn't seem to hurt you.


And sadly, no , there isn't any way to know if you are shedding. To the Dr's/drug companies, Herpes isn't a big enough deal to put the Research into it to make it pay for them...likely those tests would be prohibitively expensive for frequent (daily for some) use. Yes, they talk about finding a cure but they have been talking about that since I was diagnosed in the early 80's. HIV/AIDS came and stole our thunder for a long time and we are just starting to get *some* funding for research again.


Sometimes it just takes time for people to adjust to the idea of sex with Herpes. My last BF freaked out when he found out and wouldn't come near me for a month (we had just started dating) He eventually got over it and over the course of a few months got less and less concerned because I was taking my supressive therapy and I was very firm about not doing anything if I suspected an OB.


Give it time - it seems you just have to get educated and get comfortable with your new sexual paradigm. In the meantime, use this time to find other ways to be intimate..... have a look at this link...it may give you a different perspective on your situation :)



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