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Unprotected sex during outbreak - situational judgment

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Hi guys, I'm a 20 y/o male abd very new here (first post and it's gunna be a long one sorry!) and having stumbled across this community and read a few (a lot!) of posts I decided to join and ask my own question, since you guys seem to be quite informative and helpful.

Before I start I just want to apologise in case anything I say comes across as insensitive, uninformed or naive, still learning the rules of the road!

So to try and cut a long story short, around 4 weeks ago I had unprotected vaginal sex with someone I later found out was suffering a herpes outbreak. After speaking about it a bit she said I probably don't have it since none of the guys she had been with in the past 4 years had got it and I haven't had any symptoms. She'd also had unprotected sex during and outbreak before. This leads me to think that she may have HSV1 which isn't as transmittable genitally right? (we've since stopped speaking so I can't ask which type she has but I know I have HSV1 orally which should provide some immunity to GHSV1 right?) She also said the outbreak wasn't in/on her vagina or very close but above it and was the size of a tiny mosquito bite with no fluid and that she was nearing the end of her OB. She was also on antivirals at the time.
I also do a lot of sport and I'm generally pretty healthy so she told me not to worry since my immune system would be pretty strong but I don't know if that has anything to do with transmission. Also contact time was very minimal (only lasted around 30 seconds to a minute before I felt uneasy about things) and I didn't have any abrasions or cuts down there. Not sure if that changes anything

Like I said I haven't suffered from any symptoms so far thankfully but I did think I felt some general itching. I've since chalked it up to paranoia as it would be very sporadic (I'd only notice it when I was focusing on it) and not localised at all. Numerous doctors have told me that herpes symptoms consist of localised itching (not general) and whenever there's itching you will notice lesions soon after even if they were small i.e it's very rare to get itching with no lesions. I didn't notice any and got the clinic to check and they reported nothing out of the ordinary either.

I know that symptoms likely occur during the incubation period with 90% of people that do suffer from symptomatic hsv showing symptoms within the first 2-20 days but I could be someone who's asymptomatic.

I also read from a few journals that the rate of transmission via unprotected sex is around 1 transmission in 1000 encounters. Numerous doctors have also stated that the most infectious STIs have a maximum 20% risk of transmission and that H is not one of them. I also came across this interesting thread where a doctor said that the risk of infection with a lesion present is 1 in 1000 encounters: https://www.medhelp.org/posts/STDs/Transmission-during-outbreak-probability-and-other-questions/show/1944245

Now this does seem rather optimistic but he is a highly accredited professor, director and doctor and an expert in STIs with numerous publications so surely his estimate must hold some weight? Even if it was optimistic it couldn't be too far off? Or am I being naive? There have been other doctors that stand by the low infectivity of H also.

So what I'm trying to get at is, weighing all of this up what do you think of the situation? Has anyone been in a situation like this and how did it turn out? I know predicting things like this is like predicting the weather as there are so many variables but I've just been quite paronoid and nervous as I've never been in a situation like this so any advice would help.

Again apologies if I come across insensitive or naive etc. I don't mean any distress I cause :(

P. S
What adds to my nervousness is the fact that I'm starting a new relationship with someone that means the world to me. I've mentioned to her that Ive been exposed to the virus and she's reassured me a lot saying that she doesn't think of it as a big deal and would be happier if I stopped worrying than if I find out that I'm not infected. Personally I don't think it's a big deal for me if I have it and it's just the social stigma thats the worst thing about it but the possibility of passing it on to someone I care about so much kills me...

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Hi Newbie123

Firstly I don't think  your post is insensitive or naïve at all.

There are better experts than me on this site but obviously the worse time to have sex with someone who has H
is when they are having an OB, most people won't have sex while they are having an OB.

I think it is a 2% chance of transmitting with unprotected sex from shedding not while having an OB.
Also if you have HSV-1 orally already, I think I'm right in saying you can not get it in your genital area as well but you can get HSV-2 there.
I would take what you have read about 1 transmission in 1000 with a pinch of salt.

I would say that it is normal to have an OB a couple of weeks after if you have been infected so you may be lucky,
of course you could be asymptomatic as you have said.

I think your best option is to ask to be tested for both HSV-1 & HSV-2 (even though you say you have HSV-1)
Its the only way to be certain.

The last thing I will add,
I have had H for 8 years & I didn't think it that a big deal, my first GF after I was infected accepted it & I was with her for 6 great years
but more recently I met someone who I thought was the love of my life & things were great until I told her & a couple of weeks later, I had lost that special person.
I'm not trying to scare you or anything, but trying to make you realise that it is life changing having this & sadly its biggest problem is the stigma behind it. 

Good Luck mate!

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Hi guys, thanks a lot for your responses. It feels so great to talk to people who know more about it. I'll have to wait a while to get tested for both hsv1 and 2 because I'd need to give my body time to build up antibodies. But to be honest I'm just scared. I don't know if I want to know if that makes sense. I guess ignorance is bliss. But it seems irresponsible of me not to get tested. It's a double edged sword and I don't know what side to stand on. I do t know how ready I am. Sorry Im ranting right now and going off on a tangent forgive me. I've never been in a situation like this before and there are so many factors to consider as @Whatiswrongwithme pointed out.

I'm also from a community where talking about sexuality and sexual health openly isn't really done so that's had an extra weight on my shoulders.

It is encouraging to hear cases of people having unprotected sex during an outbreak and not transmitting it gives me some reassurance. I've heard of loads of cases where married couples have had unprotected sex for years and never transmitted. H seems to not abide by any hard and fast rules though which is daunting. 

2% is already quite low in the grand scheme of things and I believe that two percent was found in a study of 100 patients over the course of one year with regular sex (correct me if I'm wrong). I don't know how much higher than that it could be especially considering it was a single exposure (there haven't been any studies done on this so I've heard some wild estimations going up to 75% probability which I personally think may be an overestimating or a very worst case scenario (or I could be naive again)). Plus given that she was on antivirals and the other factors I mentioned, for an unprotected encounter during an outbreak it isn't the worst case so as you said I may have gotten lucky (or maybe I'm being overly optimistic lol). 

I'd just like to add for @Amando and anyone else reading this post something that the girl I'm now seeing said to me and hopefully may help some people out like it has done for me. She said that ofc she does worry about it but it's something that can be managed and the likelihood reduced. She said that people don't have feelings for each other based on their health and that this has nothing to do with how much she likes me and it never could and that you're worth just as much as before.

This reassured me and hopefully it'll do the same for anyone reading this. And I know how it feels to lose someone but that special someone would accept you "warts and all". Idk maybe I'm trying to reassure myself with this but hopefully it'd have the same effect for you... 

I'll try and keep you guys updated on any changes (if I show any outbreaks etc but it may be unlikely given the time frame). I'd still like to know people's opinions on this! 

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@Newbie123, good on you for having the open conversation with your new partner about being exposed. It sounds like you're good people. Overall, it'll drive you crazy trying to figure out whether you have it or not now. Yes, there is a 4% chance of passing herpes when there are no symptoms and no condoms/medication used. And you're right — that stat is averaging regular sex over the course of a year. But then when you add in the fact that she was having an outbreak, that does up the risk much, much higher. But it's not a guarantee. The best thing you can do is to wait the 3 months and get a Western Blot to be sure. I know the waiting game can be agonizing, but it's also a good time to settle in and practice the worst case scenarios not getting the best of you. Because ultimately, even "worst case scenario" of getting herpes is certainly not a death sentence. There are plenty of us H Opportunists who have used herpes as a doorway into deeper connection and intimacy. So either way you'll be fine, and either way, you have a supportive community behind you to support you in whatever you find out. 

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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Hi guys, thanks so much for the responses. So I haven't had any symptoms as of yet (every itch has still got me paranoid though). I was just assuming that despite the outbreak, a one time exposure yields relatively low risk but that being said I think I'm just trying to convince myself more than anything lol... 

I live in the UK but right now I'm abroad. The UK don't offer the blood tests anymore I believe but I recently got one done where I am now. The doctor said the results should be 95% accurate given the time frame and will be with me by tomorrow. I'm just very very very nervous... I don't even know if I'd open the results until a while later. Thank you so much for the support guys I really appreciate it... 

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Hi guys, so an update on my situation.. 

I tested negative with a very low antibody count plus the lack of symptoms the doc told me not to worry. I'm going to get regularly tested just as a precaution from now on but this whole ordeal has taught me a lot that I thought some of which I should share:

Other than a major lesson in statistical analysis (looking at journal articles and transmission rates etcetc) it's kind of taught me how to deal with life blindsiding you in a way you never thought would happen. The resilience shown by many H Oppers in this community gave me a renewed sense of revival if that makes sense? You guys are actually awesome...

This forced me to do a looot of research on H, both scientific and otherwise. I'm a scientist by trade and education (still currently a student but working full time also) and it's allowed me to further my knowledge in a whole field of research I didn't even know about and hopefully one day I can help make a positive impact on those battling this virus one day. It's definitely a new field of interest for me and its important to make this known to potential young and budding scientists out there so we can really make a change.

Finally, the stigma surrounding H is TOTALLY unjustified. Researching more about it and doing my reading and homework on it proved to me just how much the stigma messes things up. It really doesn't deserve the label it has and the work people like Adrial are doing is really important to make that known. 

I have a strong feeling profitability has something to do with the stigma and lack of funding/drive for research since treatment is much more profitable for big pharma compared to cures. But I don't know that may be my tinfoil hat talking... 

But yeah this community has taught me a lot and I will definitely be checking back from time to time. Sorry if this is a bit long and again apologies if anything that I'm saying may offend anyone etc but those were a few of my personal takeaways i wanted to share... 


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