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Herpes 1

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Hello! I wanted to share my recent learning about H1 because it is very hard to find clear, accurate information about it even on this site! Sorry, but I have searched and even in the info handouts/downloads, it doesn't give a clear distinction between H1 and H2. I wish I had known what being diagnosed with H1 meant when I was diagnosed 4 months ago! Please post this and please know that I got this information from a trusted, expert health care provider, not from some random internet site. Scroll down for the FACTS that I have learned. Keep reading to get my full story.


So, back in April of this year I was diagnosed with HSV-1. I freaked out, like many of you, and thought that my sex life was over. I thought I was highly contagious because I kept reading about herpes being contagious even when you don't have symptoms - ie. when you are "shedding", that I was going to get multiple outbreaks, that I was a freak and dirty etc... I was also mystified how I hadn't passed it to my boyfriend because we'd had unprotected sex before I had my outbreak and before I had any lesions.


I live in a part of Canada where the health care is bad at best, where there are no STI clinics where you can go and get solid information, and where you have to wait for days to even get a simple blood test.

So when I was back home in a more civilized province recently I went to an STI clinic and had a good, long conversation with AN EXPERT: A nurse practitioner who specializes in sexually transmitted infections.

Here is what she told me about having HSV-1 ie. Herpes 1:


- 3/4 of Canadians have H1, so having it means I am a NORMAL CANADIAN (and probably just a normal human in 2013!)


- most of these people who have H1 don't even know they have it because they've never had an outbreak and most doctors don't test for H1 unless specifically asked to test for it because it is SO COMMON.


- if your parents kissed you as a child and they tended to get cold sores, they probably passed H1 to you then.


- if you have H1 you can ONLY pass it to a partner if you have a LESION (or blister, pimple, whatever you want to call those annoying things - which is all they really are - annoying little things!). H1 is unlike H2, which can pass through shedding and when you are asymptomatic. H1 cannot.


- if I have H1 and you have H1, I cannot give you MORE H1 - ie. we are equal and cannot make each other's herpes worse.


- H1 often has an initial outbreak and then MAY NEVER OCCUR AGAIN. It could, of course, but it is not like H2 which will likely have outbreaks many times in a lifespan.


- There should be no stigma around ANY KIND of Herpes - H1 or H2 in 2013!! people need to wake up and get real! A boyfriend/girlfriend's reaction to your disclosure will tell you WAY more about them than your having herpes will tell them about you!!!!


- Know the difference between H1 and H2, educate yourself and your partner, be safe, get tested and don't freak out :) You are normal!


I hope this helps someone out there and I wish someone had posted the difference between H1 and H2 for me to read several months ago.

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Interesting, thanks heat.


Correct me if I'm wrong here but it almost sounds to me like genital HSV1 is such a non-issue (after the initial ob, which I'm sure can be just as painful/unsettling as the initial HSV2 ob) that I don't really seem to get why people feel the same way about it / treat it the same as HSV2? I know genital herpes is genital herpes whether it's 1 or 2 but in my experience with HSV2 thus far (and most others I've heard/read about) is that although manageable it can be a real, unpleasant little biatch with many recurrent obs and so I totally get why disclosure is necessary.


What I am wondering is ... since the vast majority of the population has HSV1 antibodies and since HSV1 doesn't prefer the area, realistically shouldn't there be a lot less anxiety involved in the thought of passing it along to someone from genital to genital, especially since recurrences are so seldom/uncommon? I don't understand why disclosure is even really necessary in that situation? Or even why a genital HSV1 diagnosis is as upsetting/devastating as HSV2? Sorry if I come across as insensitive/uninformed re. gHSV1, it's just something that I have been pondering!

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I totally get what you are saying HCTS! I haven't had to disclose yet as I haven't had the fortunate opportunity to have any sexual encounters since my diagnosis, but I too have wondered if I need to lay it all out on the table if I have H1. I think I might do so just to educate my future partner(s) and reduce the stigma around having it - since so many of us do. What do you mean though, by "HSV1 doesn't prefer the area"? As far as I understand it is still contagious genital to genital IF one has lesions.

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Yes - sorry I should have been clearer about that. By HSV1 not preferring the area I just meant that once someone has it, recurrences are much less common/likely and less severe from the sounds of things, but yeah still contagious with lesions. Probably still a chance without too but what I'm saying is that since its such a nonissue I don't get why anyone would really worry about it. Das all. But yeah definitely smart to educate future partners regardless. Cheers!

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I wonder that--are we supposed to disclose Oral HSV1? I never have but I just found out two years ago but I've been with the same person since I found it out. Are you supposed to disclose HSV1? I always figured if I date again will I need to tell the person or is being on a pill enough to keep it from them until the actual HSV2 disclosure?

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I think it's really up to you... but IMO it would seem kind of silly if every time before kissing someone on the lips you had to sit them down and say: "Listen. There's something you need to know. Sometimes... I get cold sores." Kinda silly, yeah? Especially when risks are minimal if you don't have an active cold sore on your mouth at the time and when you consider that the other person most likely already has HSV1. A different story if it involves oral sex with the other person and you want to discuss the risks of gHSV1, of course.

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There was a great (and LONG) thread on just this question. I wish I could find it now ... It was a great discussion. Basically, what it amounted to was this: If 80% of Americans HAVE oral herpes (cold sores), then that means the vast MINORITY actually DON'T have it. It would seem that since this is the case that it would fall on the ones who don't have oral HSV-1 (and would rather not get it) to ask their kissing partners if they have herpes. It's a sort of "reverse disclosure." The assumption would be that the vast majority of people you kiss have cold sores. If you don't have 'em and don't want a chance of getting 'em, either don't kiss or find that 20% who doesn't have them. ;) And I still think that it's just decent integrity to tell your partner if you have cold sores before you go down on them since 50% of new genital herpes cases are due to oral sex.

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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It's a moot point as far as I'm concerned of which one is more off-putting to a partner. Do you see how even that question is inviting more stigma and negativity into having herpes? It seems that our culture's stigma around sex in general makes "oral herpes" and "genital herpes" seem like they are 2 completely separate viruses, one with no stigma, the other with a lot ... And ultimately what I have come to find in my own experience is it's much more important how I feel about having herpes than how a potential partner feels about it (whether HSV-1 or HSV-2). The more self-accepting I am about having herpes, the more accepting partners I seem to attract. It's a fascinating parallel. I prefer to ask the question "How many qualities do I possess that are attractive and beautiful?" See how that changes the whole conversation? Where are we putting our attention? Where are we putting our energy? That is what will grow. It's kind of ironic since the whole topic of these forums and blog is herpes, but the key is to stop focusing on it in a negative light and shift our attention to WHO WE ARE instead of WHAT WE HAVE.


Great native american story: A boy is sitting with the chief of the village. He notices the chief's necklace that shows the head of a black wolf next to the head of a white wolf and asks about it. The chief says the black wolf represents the negative thoughts and qualities that we have inside; the white wolf represents the positive thoughts and qualities. The boy asks, "Which wolf lives?" The chief says, "The one you feed the most."

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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Yes, Nigella. All that info is on this handout too under "viral shedding":


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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