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Help! How to disclose herpes after the fact?

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Hello everyone,

I was diagnosed with genital HSV-1 about 4 months ago. My boyfriend at the time didn't realize he had oral HSV-1, but he did apparently! I got diagnosed after having pretty severe systemic symptoms (nearly obstructive exudative pharyngitis and fevers of 103+ for a week with no improvement after antibiotics- they thought I had strep throat) followed by a mildly painful, small genital lesion. The oral culture was negative for HSV, but the genital lesion was positive and a month later my HSV1 antibody test had turned positive as expected. The doctor said there was no way to be sure that I didnt get oral HSV also, but since the culture was negative and I haven't had an obvious cold sore, that I most likely just have it genitally. I'm taking Vancyclovir daily to reduce the chance of giving it to anyone. I found this website super helpful in coming to terms with it all. I finally reached a place where I was ready to start dating and felt optimistic about/strongly in support of full disclosure upfront. However, I made a huge mistake this weekend and ended up not disclosing to my first partner since the diagnosis. I wasn't planning on going home with this guy since it was our first date, but then I drank too much and let things get carried away. We ended up going down on each other, but didnt actually have sex. I feel absolutely horrible for not telling him beforehand and am so terrified that he might have gotten it from me. I am not quite sure how to go about disclosing after the fact though. I thought it would be best to wait until our next meet up so I could tell him in person. However, I sent him a message after our date but I still haven't heard back from him so I doubt he's interested in a second date.. So do I call and ask him to meet up so I can tell him something important? Do I just tell him over the phone? Text? Email? I know the chance of him a) not already having oral hsv1 and B) getting oral HSV1 from going down on me briefly while I'm taking suppressive therapy and not having an outbreak is pretty slim, but I still feel like I should tell him. Im also nervous that perhaps I do have oral hsv also, even though the culture was negative and I've never had a cold sore, and I'm afraid I could have exposed him to it genitally as well.. My friends with oral and/or genital HSV1 think im just being overly paranoid since it's all very new to me, and they think it's fine to wait to tell him in person.. But I just have this horrible feeling that he's going to get it even though the odds are that he won't.. I can't imagine putting someone through all of that and not having even warned them about the possibility and giving them the chance to decide whether to take the risk.. I feel like the worst person ever for being so irresponsible.. For future reference, do most people with genital hsv1 disclose to oral sex partners even though their risk of getting oral HSV1 is higher from kissing someone with oral HsV1 which is ~80% of the population? Also, how should I handle the small possibility that I may have oral hsv 1 in the future? Should I disclose that before kissing? Before oral sex? Or is that just a risk that most people assume they are taking when they kiss/have oral sex with new people since 80% of the population has oral HSV? None of my friends who know they have oral HsV1 disclose unless they have a cold sore which seems crazy to me.. Is that the norm? Thanks for any advice and sorry for the long post!

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I feel for you… not sure what to tell you. I think it would be good to tell him. In regard to those last two lines… for future reference- yeah, it does seem to be the norm for people not to disclose oral hsv1… and as a result, isn't that how most of us here got it? Disclose before kissing? Yeah, not sure, but disclose before oral? Definitely. Yes, even though you are not positive you have it orally, and yes, even though 80% of the population has it. The way I got it- the chances were soooo remote, yet I still got it. For that reason, I'd say err on the side of caution!

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I avoided this conversation because I don't think my reply is really appropriate for what this forum is about. That being said, I'm going to go for it anyway. So..you made a mistake and had oral sex with someone without disclosing. My first reaction is you should tell him...however... he hasn't had any contact with you since. That's where I become conflicted. And I'm still conflicted... I have no good advice for you on that one. I just get this image of you chasing down this guy yelling you have H and for what?


As for future relationships, you've never been diagnosed for Oral HSV1. The swab came back negative. I wouldn't disclose on possibility. The possibility is there for everyone. As for the genital, which you have been diagnosed with, I would disclose about that for sure. Not just before engaging in oral sex, but before engaging in any type of sexual relationship.

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Well, there's a lot of "opinion" about disclosing with Oral and Genital HSV1. So my reply is just another opinion based on what I know about the virus and my personal integrity ;)


I feel for Oral HSV1, if you are kissing, you don't have to disclose because, as pointed out, 80% of the population has it so pretty much everyone has been exposed to it (even if they didn't get it) many times ... in fact, *most* people get it orally before they are adults.... as kids... not from kissing.


For sex of any kind, I believe that if you KNOW you have something (ie: definite positive result) then you should disclose ... whether it be Oral H1 or genital H1 ... sure, the risk of passing it on when you have it genitally is VERY low (in fact, some of the experts feel that they have never known of someone with H1 passing it genitally to another ... not sure of oral stats though), but you don't want to be the one "fluke" who didn't at least give the person the option.... when you have it orally, well, the stats seem to be a lot higher for genital transmission so I would definitely disclose before having oral sex.


In your case, I would use this as a chance to educate... print out the handouts and see if you can meet up with him and explain to him that you hadn't planned to end up in bed with him ... or you would have had this talk beforehand. Explain that you have H1 which is the one most people get orally, but you have it "down there" and that you got it from someone who had it orally. That the odds of him getting it orally from you are VERY low (and if he has it orally, it doesn't matter) but he should know before he jumps in bed with someone in the future that it may be useful to have a conversation about tests (tell him he likely has never been tested and *should* get tested) and if he ever had a cold sore, HE could pass it to another...


If you can't get ahold of him then I wouldn't oversweat it ... odds are he's ok, and there is only so much you can do to track down someone who hooks up with you and then ghosts you ... BUT ... please use this as a learning experience ... ok? I mean, what would you want him to do if it was the other way around???



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Thanks for all the advice guys! In the future, I definitely plan to disclose my GHSV1 and the potential that I may have OHSV1 before genital or orogenital contact. I will just put it in perspective that pretty much anyone he is with has the same chance of having OHSV1 as I do. I tried messaging him again to see if he could meet up this weekend, but he still hasn't responded. I could text him a huge explanation of everything I guess and hope he reads it, but I think at this point I should just assume he is fine since the chance of me giving him OHSV is slim and all my OHSV tests were negative so I most likely didn't even put him at risk of getting GHSV.. I imagine he'd be contacting me by now if he were showing any symptoms of a primary infection. I definitely learned some major lessons..

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