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genital HSV-1, trust, etc. questions!

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I am trying to understand the situation surrounding my husbands’ sudden appearance of herpes blisters. We are both nearly 50, and we have been married 5 years. I was thoroughly tested for many STD’s about 7-8 years ago (before we got together) and appeared free of anything at that time (but I do not honestly recall if I was tested for HSV then). Husband was also tested for 'everything but' at that time.


About 3 weeks ago – a day following intercourse – he showed me what looked like blisters on his penis. I do not know for certain if they were there when we did have evening intercourse the day before or not. I insisted he go to his doctor, which he did (after a week of prompting), and I went to mine. I asked to be fully tested again, and I was (though I do not know at the moment what precise tests were done, but they included tests for HSV 1 and 2 as I requested, and my cervix was swabbed). This testing was only a week after his blisters appeared, far as I know. I again showed up negative for everything, including Herpes Simplex 1 and 2. I do not get cold sores, by the way.


However.. my husband tested positive. He showed up having Herpes Simplex 1, though I have never seen a cold sore on him. He now tells me he does get them. To his knowledge, his ex wife of a 20 year marriage does not have HSV. Anyway, here are my questions ~


1) my husband tells me that his doctor claims that the test they gave him proves that he must have had Herpes for many years and not known. My understanding is that it is impossible for any blood test or culture to give an indication of how long ago the exposure occurred. Antibodies just indicate it's been there at least a 'few months', no more precise than that. Am I correct?


2) What are the chances that he really had has this for many years, with no outbreaks and without having passed it to me already (we have been together 7 years total)?


If by some miracle I don't already have it, I would REALLY like to avoid obtaining it, too.... especially if it is 'recent'.


Any advice? I have asked him to get a copy of the tests so I can see the numbers. I don't now how to talk about this without provoking a fight and .... I'm now afraid of sex with the person I married. Yikes. :(


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well your going to have to trust your gut on this. changing theories would be a red flag for me. add the other trust issues.


on the tests, a blood test can give "some" indication as in it takes approx. 3-4 months to show the antibodies. the human body is very diverse, we have people who tested negative ( as apposed to unclean, a term we aren't comfortable with here btw) almost a year post exposure and dancer knows someone who had it like 20 years before first ob.


hsv 1 is more comfortable around the mouth, it can and does go genital and will be much more latent there'


not sure what I or anyone could say about the trust issues other than trust your instincts. whats the saying from the 80s nuclear detente? trust but verify.

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You certainly have a difficult situation here. I do have a client who had her first genital OB after 30 yrs of marriage ... so it *is* possible he carried it all that time. Sadly the odds are very high he was not tested for Herpes when he was tested last time ... it's very rarely included unless you specifically ask for it.


You say he has HSV1 - but was the sore swabbed? Because if not, the positive HSV1 test could well be the cold sores he says he's always had (80% of people have oral HSV1 ... 60% of all young people have it by the time they are young adults).... So if that wasn't swabbed, the blood test doesn't confirm WHERE it is ..... only that you have the antibodies.


So without a swab, you just know that he carries the HSV1 virus and given the Dr's claim that he's had it awhile (odds are that means the number was over 3.5 by my guess, which is a conclusive positive result) then he's likely had it a minimum of 3-4 months ... but likely longer. I *think* if the Dr did an IgM and IgG test, and the IgM comes back negative and the IgG comes back positive, that also indicates a likely longer term infection ...


Given that 80% of people with Herpes don't know they have it, well, yeah, the odds are that he actually didn't know he's had it ... and the blood results at least tell you he didn't get this within a few weeks .... of course it will put your mind to rest if you see the numbers, and if he's a smart man and he's being honest, he'll show you the results ... as for his stories, well, if he honestly doesn't know how he *might* have got it, he maybe trying to figure it out himself with those stories... :/


I think your best bet is to say that while you believe him, you are trying to learn about this and it would help you to see his test results ... do your best to avoid ANY hint of accusation because that will put him on the defense .... and ask him if they swabbed the sore. Because if they didn't, well I hate to say it but the result of the blood test is actually pretty useless in this case. There would be a decent chance that the blister could have been a rub from sex, and there *are* other things that cause blisters there that are not STD related ... so you may just have to take his word for it in the end .... and if you have any reason to distrust him, you will have to just have to keep alert ... as @seeker said ... trust, but verify in the future :p

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Thank you for the helpful replies! And I apologize for the use of the term unclean, that was thoughtless of me. Is Unclear a better term?


I do have to say my gut isn't feeling comfy with this, but I am trying VERY hard to not seem at all accusatory, I am trying to get him to obtain the test results and I did explain why, I want to assess my own odds of picking this up, which I'd prefer to avoid.


He IS a very intelligent man, which is one reason this unsettles me - he's not being terribly smart at ALL (my opinion) in how he is handling this; uncharacteristically seems to not want to do the research and get all the answers... very not like him (he is a scientist as I am as well). I really CAN accept the HSV and a degree of risk I would get it, but I NEED to entirely believe things are 100% truthful to get on that page.


So, now we wait....

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Maybe you could direct him to this forum and he could get some help also?


As far as testing goes -IgM antibodies are a first responders; they come, fight, and fade shortly after. IgG responds second and sticks around for the long haul (long term immunity/infection) So what WCS said about those tests seems spot on. Yay! Immunology came in handy for something ;)


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Regarding terminology ... tests are either "negative", "positive/unequivocal" or "equivocal" ... tests are never "clean/unclean", "clear'unclear" etc.... ;)


One point I want to quickly make - *if* he has it orally and genitally, you actually have a much bigger risk of getting it from oral sex than genital sex simply because the HSV1 virus sheds a lot more in the mouth area than in the genitals.


So hows about telling him you realize that you should be more concerned about the issue of the cold sores, and that you have learned that the blood test actually likely is positive because of the cold sores on the mouth ... and ask him if he had the sores swabbed ... because really, if he's had cold sores the blood test won't reflect anything about how long he's supposedly had genital herpes, or even if he DOES have it there. So I would request that if he has not had the sores swabbed, that he get them swabbed if he has any in the future because it *may not* be herpes .... but you would like to know so you know how much you should be concerned about him having it down there ... AND ask him to be very honest with you if he ever has any concern that he may be having an oral OB so you can avoid sex/kissing during that time (but promise him you will find other ways to play... give him reason to WANT to tell you so he gets something special ;) ). See if you can get him to show he is concerned about YOUR health ... because THAT to me will tell you a lot :/


You may never get a full answer about this one (and he may genuinely not know and as you said, be just as unsettled with this as you are ... maybe more so because he obviously has no idea that H1 could head south nor HOW it can get there ;) ). So file it away, and be "quietly vigilant" ... don't go looking for every little piece of proof that he's unfaithful or whatever. But don't ignore things that your gut tells you you need to pay attention to. Give him the chance to prove himself - either way.


(((HUGS))) and good luck ... wishing you the best with this.

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