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New GF disclosed. Need some advice

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Hi, so pretty new to this whole thing. I guess I know about as much about it as the next guy who hasn't had to deal with it directly at all. Anyway, started dating a new girl a couple of weeks ago. Things have been going really well. Serious pretty fast for both of us. So she disclosed to me last week that she has HSV2. We havent slept together yet. Come pretty close a few times but shes gotten really insecure at the last minute and stopped it before its happened. I guess now I know why. I respect her like crazy for telling me like that. Im sure it wasnt easy, and also sure that not everyone who has it would tell someone new. So it's left me in a pretty weird position. Part of me feels like Id be crazy to pursue this relationship. I dont want herpes. I could easily just walk and it wouldn't be my problem at all. Shes continued to give me the option to do that with no hard feelings. Thing is, I dont think I want to. If this weren't an issue, pursuing a relationship with this girl would be one of the easiest decisions Ive ever had to make. I guess what I want to know is, hopefully from someone with some experience and some objectivity, is it crazy for me to think I could pursue a healthy sexual relationship with this girl and not catch herpes? What can I do to protect myself? Lastly, she's mentioned to me that shes not on any kind of medication for it. Shes said shes afraid of the side effects of the currently available meds. Now Ive read in the last few days that treatment with these meds lowers the chance of transmission when someone's not currently having an outbreak. I guess what Im wondering is if itd be appropriate for me to suggest to her that she pursue treatment? Itd certainly make me feel a bit more secure about the whole thing, but I recognize that her body and health isn't really about me. Any thoughts?

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Hello and Welcome!


First - I totally appreciate that you came here to get informed. Unfortunately the general public are terribly uninformed/misinformed about Herpes.


So here's the deal.


15-20% of people have HSV2. (Higher numbers as we get older - especially for single women and certain ethnic groups).




So odds are you have been exposed to it unwittingly unless you go skipping hand in hand with your new love to get STD tested every time you start a relationship .. even then you usually have to ASK for the H test because it's not included in the standard STD panels *even if you ask for a "Full" STD panel*.


I've dated several guys longer term (2 for 3 years each) and neither got it. I took the meds for one, and not for the other (by mutual agreement). The meds are not generally a problem as long as you don't have pre-existing issues with your liver/kidneys. You may want to have her come on here to talk to people who have taken the meds to get a better idea of the realities. They don't work for everyone and some people just don't like the minor side effects (most don't have any side effects at all).


The thing is, there will ALWAYS be a risk with entering a new relationship unless you see their STD test... some won't have had the test (and will think they have), some won't know they are asymptomatic carriers, and some won't tell you for fear you will reject them (some Dr's tell people they don't have to tell if they are not having an outbreak, which is really unethical IMO). So if she's worth it, I'd say keep getting educated, get her on here, and just take your time getting sexual until you are sure you are both ready.


BTW, if you don't already have HSV1, odds are you could get it genitally as well from oral sex - 80% of people have it orally and don't know they can pass it on that way. So if this girl is worth the risk, then you will know it... 🙂


These links may help you to understand herpes more 🙂




Handouts + disclosure e-book:


Herpes facts video



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No, it's not crazy to think you could have a healthy sexual relationship with her and not catch herpes. Condoms, antivirals, and abstinence during outbreaks will lower your risks. That leads to your other question- I personally would not be offended if someone asked me to take antivirals. The relationship is new, and there is no guarantee it will last.


If she is concerned about the side effects of the meds, perhaps you could ask her to try them for awhile and see how it affects her. Most of the problems with medication is the long term effects. But again, it's a new relationship, and if things go well, you can reassess that in the future.


Good luck!!

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Wow. Doctors really tell people that? That kinda blows my mind. It honestly made me like her that much more that she disclosed. I think it speaks a lot to her character. And I know continuing to approach relationships that way has done some emotional damage for her. Shes terrified that Im just going to walk, she insists shes not, but its kind of obvious that she is, because I guess a lot of men have when shes told them. Yet she continues to do it. Thats a special kind of lady to care about other people like that even with the anxiety its clearly causing for her.


As far as the meds, Im not sure specifically which meds she was talking about, as when we discussed all this I was trying to be as unobtrusive as I could, because it was clearly upsetting her, so I didn't want to push too hard too soon. I just let her tell me what she was going to tell me and we've just been discussing it in small bits since. But what she did say was she thought they could cause seizures, and she said something about cancer? I guess she knows someone who was on similar meds for something else and got some kind of kidney cancer. I could be wrong about that. Id just had the equivalent of a verbal 2x4 hit to the head myself. Hearing this woman I care so much about was bringing this to the table. So I dont know that I absorbed everything the way I may have in another kind of conversation.


For the meds, is there anything I can be taking to help protect myself or does it not work that way? Im going to check out the informational stuff you linked me once I finish my coffee and my brain is awake enough to absorb heavy information. Thanks for the responses guys. This has been a really stressful thing. Weighing the value of a woman I really care about vs the fear of inviting a lifelong illness into my life. Its not an easy problem to have. From what Im hearing it doesnt seem like I need to be quite the stress factory that I have been about this though. So if nothing else thanks for that.

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@JB33 I think it's great that you are here seeking information.


I'd like to add a few points to what has been said already.


It sounds like you are evaluating your risk of contracting HSV2 in terms of being exposed vs. not being exposed. As @WCSDancer2010 stated, most people with HSV2 don't know they have it. For instance, roughly half of single women in my age group (late 40s) have it and an additional unknown percentage have genital herpes caused by HSV1 which is usually transmitted via oral sex from the mouth of someone who doesn't know they have HSV1. So from my perspective, you are not choosing whether or not you will expose yourself to HSV2, you are choosing whether or not you will knowingly expose yourself.


I do take antivirals because I want to do everything possible to reduce risk of transmission, but if she is unable or unwilling to do so, you'll want to keep in mind that the difference in transmission risk is relatively minor when talking about female to male transmission. If you're using condoms and avoid outbreaks (if she gets outbreaks), antivirals cut the risk from 2% per year to 1% per year. If you are not using condoms, the risk is 4% per year without antivirals, 2% with antivirals.


I don't know how old you are, but about 25% of men in my age group have HSV2, but only about 12% of those who have it are aware of their status. The rest either have no symptoms or their symptoms are so mild they are not recognized as related to HSV2. You may want to consider the possibility that you might already have it.


And yes, many doctors really tell people it is not necessary to disclose in the absence of outbreaks, but the fact is that most people don't have the information necessary to disclose because they don't know they have it. HSV is so pervasive (http://projectaccept.org/who-gets-hsv/) but relatively few know they have it. In my age group, 94% of people have either HSV1, HSV2 or both and yet I've only had two people EVER disclose to me (and one of them only disclosed his oral HSV1 because I disclosed my HSV2).

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Im in my early 30s, and she her late 20s. And yeah, condoms will definitely be a thing, and we've already discussed abstaining during outbreaks. She says she gets them once every month or 2 months. Which kinda sounds like a lot to me. Maybe because shes not using meds? I guess at the end of the day that is a pretty small risk percentage. Ive actually been thinking about making an appointment to get tested in light of all this. Just seems like the logical thing to do. I know she said she was just recently also. Its just a blood test right? That something I could do at a planned parenthood clinic? I know I was tested there for free for bloodborne stuff a couple years ago after a scare.

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Honestly my big fear is that we're going to date for a while, Im going to contract it, then we're going to breakup, and Im going to be in the same situation she is. My solution thus far has kinda just been to hold off on the sex for a while to see if we really work together before taking the chance. But its getting harder and harder. Its clearly something we both want. To the point of needing a crowbar to prevent it from happening when we're together. So in other words that solution probably isnt going to be a viable one for very long.

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@JB33 - I think that's a very common fear. But I will remind you that whether you are sexually active with her or someone else, unless they have very recently specifically tested for HSV (which is typically not included in STD testing panels) and they are certain they are negative, there is some level of risk.


I didn't find out I was positive until the age of 47 and I have no idea how long I've had it. It's possible I've had it for decades. I also didn't understand until I was 47 that I'd been unknowingly taking the risk of contracting genital herpes all the time for decades. Anytime someone with oral HSV1 (most adults) performed oral sex on me, I was taking a risk of contracting genital herpes, and probably a fair amount of the time I had intercourse, I was risking contracting HSV2, at least considerably more often than I realized, until I contracted it myself and then unknowingly began exposing others. I didn't know how common HSV is, how often it is asymptomatic, how condoms only partially protect from transmission. If I'd known all that, maybe I would've been a little more conservative about the number of partners I've had. Then again, I've read that 20% of women with 2-4 lifetime partners have HSV2, so there are no guarantees. It is very common.


Having said all that, I think your decision to hold off on sex until you are both sure is a wise choice.



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Glad you have reached out here. Ditto all of the above responses. I personally have had H for over 30 yrs. My husband of 20 yrs is virus free. He always uses a condom ( entirely his choice and he is fine with it). Lots of unprotected oral sex!!! I have hvs2. It's almost impossible to pass on hvs2 orally. Also, I only just started anti viral about 2 months ago just to bring my 5 or 6 outbreaks per yr to zero so he is virus free due to absence of outbreak and condom use.


She is prob having more outbreaks now posibly due to having periods and being somewhat new to H. Longer you have it, the less outbreaks you have ( for most) and less shedding. I would certainly have her look into the anti viral a bit more and possibly talk to a specialist about it. I've had no side effects other than a bit more thirsty, but everyone is different.


Sounds like you really like this girl. Honestly, had my giver disclosed years ago.....I would have gone for the risk because I was crazy about him. We ended up together a long time anyway before splitting up. He did not disclose and the condom he was using came off one night and the rest is history. Also, back then there was very, very little info and no anti virals.....he said he thought he was safe using a condom during an outbreak ugh! Flash forward 30+ years and it really has not been much of an inconvenience if any in my life. I'm still me and life is good!!!

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Truth is that there might actually be less pressure once you get herpes. It is very wide spread, and for most people who have it, it's not even a thing. Regardless of whether or not you get it, you can't let something like a little skin infection get in the way of your life.

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Yeah, I mean I'd definitely rather not have it. But the no sex for a while thing is kind of a non-issue now. Honestly Im not that worried about it.I thought I would be, but you're absolutely right. This is what Id be doing if it weren't an issue. Seems silly to let it stop me when theres so many more important factors between us that are completely right. So chips fall where they may I guess.

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Ok - so think of it this way...


**I assume your GF drives a car

**and I assume if that is correct, she may occasionally drive you somewhere

**And you BOTH know there is ALWAYS a risk of a car accident no matter how carefully she drives

**But you would ride with her anyway, right? Do you obsess day and night that you might be injured/killed every time she drives you somewhere? I doubt it.

**Why is the possibility of passing on H any different? At least it won't kill you!!!


I know that may seem a little flip - but the things is, a life WELL LIVED assumes risk. I just went hiking/rock scrambling yesterday. Anyone who does that knows there is a risk that you can slip and fall and be badly hurt. But damn was it FUN! And I just made sure I had a 3 point contact as much as possible (ie. using all the precautions for safety) and with this kind of hiking we don't even wear helmets even though there's a *small* risk of at least getting a concussion if you fall.


So - it's time that you look at the risk vs *potential* reward for going forward. As in, yes, you *might* break up and you *might* get H from her. But how much of your life are you willing to not live based on *mights*??


As for the meds, I have never heard of kidney cancer or seizures from it and if she is concerned about kidney function she can request a yearly blood test to monitor that. So I would ask her if you can both go to PP to discuss it with them while you get your test. While you are there, ask them about the risks of the meds. Hopefully they can put her mind to rest about them.


Condoms of course will only protect you if the area she gets the OB's in is covered by them... you can do other things like have sex in a position that has less contact with the area at least until she gets the OB's more under control (ie, if she gets it more in the front area then scissors or doggie style would give you less contact with the area...). You may want to look into the female condom too which covers more area and *supposedly* gives you both plenty of feeling/friction. You can see them here :) http://tinyurl.com/FC2-condom



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Yeah I ride a motorcycle too. Same logic really applies. When I was first learning I was terrified, and it occurred to me after a month of riding that if I was just going to be scared another driver was going to do something dumb and get me killed the whole time what was the point of doing it at all. Had to let the fear go and just be cautious and enjoy it. Same thing applies here 100%.


I told her this morning Id been posting to a forum about it online and was trying to learn all I could, and shes glad that I am. I think next time we stay together, which is looking like its going to be next weekend, Ill approach the medication subject. Just waiting for the right moment. Shes totally cool about discussing all this stuff with me, and has made it absolutely clear that I can ask anything I want, but this whole thing has clearly also done some emotional damage, so Im trying to be sensitive to that. Every time I so much as moved during the night she reacted as though I were about to walk out on her. It was kind of breaking my heart that thats what life has taught her is going to happen. So Im just trying to approach the bigger stuff as gently as I can, while reassuring her that Im not going to walk because of it.

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@JB33 I'm so glad to hear this is where your thoughts have taken you. I recently had a very positive experience disclosing to someone and it really influenced how I perceive them, too. I'm sure the effort you are making to educate yourself and your thoughtful and caring approach will be reassuring to her and serve to strengthen your mutual comfort with both the physical and emotional aspects of your relationship.

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@JB33 I feel like I could be the girl you're talking about. I too have recently met someone new and we've been having the same challenges.


The side-effects she had mentioned is news to me. I'm generally cautious about pharmaceuticals, but I know a friend who has been on it regularly for years and so have I. I've never noticed any side-effects. And I don't think I'll let that stop me. I kinda see it this way: we ain't gonna live forever and cancer is gonna get us one way or another if a car accident or something else doesn't, so no need to over think that part.


I also want to address what you called a "lifelong illness". Puh-lease! I honestly rolled my eyes. It's not like cancer or something where you're practically suffering on a daily basis. I would compare it to the occasional flu or common cold; usually just occasional discomfort and a temporary bummer. The most difficult part is the stigma, which I suffer from as well, that is all just in our minds.


Another thing I'd like to add is that I have a friend who once met a lovely girl. They had all the chemistry and such. She soon divulged that she had HSV2 and he politely and reluctantly turned her away. He tried to start another relationship with another girl who didn't have HSV but he was miserable (not that there was anything particularly wrong with the new girl, they just didnt have chemistry). Years later and he's still single and looking. I sorta feel sorry for him. I just think how much happier he could've been sticking with the girl he did connect with - even if he did wind up picking up this pesky "disease".


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Im going to relate all these experiences about the meds to her. Im not sure where she picked the idea up from. We only discussed it very briefly. I like the idea of going to a doctor together. Not sure if she'll bite or not. But it sounds good on paper.

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JB, respect to you for coming here and building an informed opinion. Seems like the previous posts have covered pretty much everything, but I'll make or repeat a few points.


Has she had the virus long? If it's a recently acquired thing, you may be at a slightly higher risk of catching it, but still minimal. Since you mentioned the damage from previous disclosures, I'm guessing it's been a while now. You're right to say she's a strong person, her heart is clearly in the right place. I like the motorbike analogy, and the fact that you ride one says that you choose to enjoy life even if there is risk involved.


One part of the hsv re-education we all faced here - anyone is fair game for hsv.. We shouldn't associate herpes with particular people or lifestyles because it can happen to anybody. I took every precaution I could, and was far from promiscuous.


Main thing I want to say is - 80% of the potential effect of hsv is removed if you are made aware beforehand. Anybody here will tell you that stress affects our outbreaks, but I'd go as far to say I was traumatised when I first found out. Probably half of my symptoms were psychosomatic from the panic stage I went through. Couple of years later, I'm absolutely fine and couldn't care less about the physical side of the condition. I'd be pretty confident approaching future partners too. It's the punch you don't see coming that's the knockout shot.

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I actually don't know exactly. I asked her and she said several years but that she hasnt really kept track. Theres something there I think she doesnt want to tell me quite yet. Shes not the kind of person who wouldnt know exactly.


And yeah, Im with you there. Im not judging at all. I know at least for her, it wasnt her fault at all. She trusted someone who shouldnt have been trusted. Simple as that. I know Ive certainly done my fair share of that.

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@JB33 - For what it's worth, it's very common to not know when one contracted the virus. In fact, most people with the virus go their entire lives without ever knowing they have it. Even if they have symptoms, they may ascribe those symptoms to something else like jock itch or a yeast infection. Also, the majority of people who transmit the virus to others don't know they have it, so in those cases, it's not a matter of whether the person was trustworthy, they were just ignorant of their status, as are most people carrying the virus.


I'll give you an example that may be meaningful to you. Given your age, there's something like an 80% chance you carry HSV1 in your mouth. This means that anytime you perform oral sex on a woman who is not already genitally infected with HSV1 or HSV2, there is a very small risk you will transmit genital herpes to her in the form of HSV1. This is true even if you've never had a single cold sore or obvious symptom of HSV1. And if this happened, it would not (IMO) be a result of you being untrustworthy.

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