Okay folks, I need some input here, especially from those of you who are knowledgable in the medical arena. This is a situation that I am not familiar with or know exactly how to handle.
I have been dating someone for about 3 months now. I have become quite attached to her emotionally and really enjoy spending time with her. She is very attractive and we have a lot of common interests. Well earlier this week she said that it was probably time that we should have the "safe sex" talk. I told her I thought that was a good idea and proceeded to let her know my recent sexual history (limited) and the date and result of my last HIV test, which was negative. She then proceeds to tell me her last HIV test was negative and was done a couple of months ago. She has not had sex since then. All good right - here's where the other shoe drops - she then tells me that in her past she has had one STD given to her by a cheating boyfriend about 11 years ago. I'm thinking to myself, no big deal it was a long time ago - then she says it was Herpes.
Ugghh so now what. I am emotionally attached to her and hate to just cut and run, but honestly I don't have any desire to receive the "gift that keeps on giving." To her benefit, she said that she understands if this is a dealbreaker for me and that she has had two other men who cut the relationship off because of it. She says that she has never passed it on to anyone else and rarely has outbreaks anymore, although she did have her last one in February. I have done as much research on the web (more than I would like to admit) to find out everything I can about this and know that simply wearing a condom does not prevent me from getting it and that it can also be asymptomatic, so she doesn't have to have an active breakout going on for me to pick it up ncessarily. So I suspect that if I stayed with her long term I will probably eventually acquire it.
I was honest with her in that I wasn't sure what to do. Part of me wishes she would have said something sooner before I became emotionally attached, but she said this isn't something she feels comfortable telling someone until she knows that she feels connected enough to them that sex may be a possibility. She has never had sex with someone without telling them first though.
Since she has told me about it, we have had one other conversation regarding the situation. She asked me how I felt and I said that I was still trying to figure all of that out. I told her that my thought process was that if I knew our relationship had the real potential to be forever, then while I wasn't crazy about contracting Herpes, it wouldn't matter to much because I would never be sleeping with anyone else. However, what I didn't want was to contract it, then "us" not work out and I would be in the same boat that she is currently in, having to sit across the table from someone new that I was getting close to and telling them that I had it.
Finally, she did mention that there is a medicine she can use which greatly reduces the chances of passing it on to me - which I had also read about. She said that if I wanted her to, she would use it but that it is a strong medicince which has some side affects she is not crazy about and would really rather not use it. That bothers me a bit, in that if the roles were reversed here, I would be taking whatever measures were necessary in order to not pass this stuff along, regardless of the side affects. If the side affects were that bad then I just wouldn't get into a sexual relationship.
So I am interested in what advice you all have for me. For the medical folks, what is the reality of catching herpes and are there strategies I can take to reduce the chances as much as possible, aside from abstinence I guess. Should I just walk away from a relationship that seems really positive in all other aspects? She has stated that a healthy sex life is important to her, so obviously if I stayed not having sex at all is not an option - I wouldn't be happy in a sexless relationship either. I would rather not ask people close to me, because they have already met this woman and I don't want to share her "secret" with anyone.
I might not be the best one to advise you but I did encounter a guy I dated who told me he had Herpes although infrequent outbreaks. I REALLY liked the guy, but, like you - did not want to do anything that would alter my future. It was in my early dating stages Post D so I was not really ready to get too intimate with him anyway. But I SO liked him.
He ended up dumping me callously for someone else and that really hurt me. Turns out he is pretty much a "Player". So in both aspects - I really feel that I dodged a bullet. He ended up marrying the new girl. Turns out he is a serial groom too - been married 4 times now!
I guess it matters how much your really like her and if you REALLY see a future with her. If not - I'd be running NOW. Before you get more invested in the R.
As I say - looking back - I really dodged a bullet. And I have no regrets.
Look on medscape.org for an article entitled "Importance and Practicalities of Patient Counseling in the Prevention and Management of Genital Herpes".
It's addressed to physicians but would answer many of your questions, I think.
One of the main points is that 1 in 4 to 1 in 6 adults has type 2 herpes - and most don't know it. The author makes the point that you may actually be at most risk from sex with the person who doesn't know they have it - and that asymptomatic shedding of the virus is the cause of most new infections.
In your situation, one step you could take is to get blood tests to see if you already have antibodies against type2 herpes - since if you already carry the virus, you wouldn't have to worry about transmission. Many people have never had a known outbreak but do carry the virus. 10% of men, 20% of women according to the CDC.
If you don't carry the virus, I guess you have to ask yourself how much worry it will cause you over time. The rate of transmission from female to male is about 4% per year. Even though the rate is low, is it going to put a damper on your sex life going forward?
In your situation, one step you could take is to get blood tests to see if you already have antibodies against type2 herpes - since if you already carry the virus, you wouldn't have to worry about transmission
To clarify - meaning that if you already have evidence of type 2 herpes previous infection, you don't really have to worry about her transmitting it to you. You DO have to worry about the risk of you transmitting it to a herpes-negative partner in the future.
Please become educated on herpes; it is not HIV. It is a viral skin disease that appears in the genital area. Cold sores are also the herpes virus and a majority of the population has either type 1 or type 2 herpes. There are many articles out there and a pioneer in holistic treatment is Christoper Scipio who makes herbal medications that have little to no side effects. He has lived with herpes for 20 years and has had no outbreaks for many years. His wife (who also has herpes) does not have outbreaks at all. So, I don't believe there is any reason to believe you will eventually get it.
Me 55 H 49 Married 21 years No kids bomb 5/09 filed 7/09 divorced and moving forward 5/10
Golfgirl - not having outbreaks does NOT mean you are not infectious. Asymptomatic shedding of the virus by infected persons between outbreaks is actually the most common mode of transmission. The risk of transmission from female to male is about 4% per year - small but not negligible. In a long-term relationship, there would be a real risk of acquiring the virus eventually. (Transmission from a male to a female is higher, about twice that rate.)
On the other hand - the natural course for most people is a few outbreaks the first year, with gradually decreasing frequency over time. Many people eventually go years between outbreaks. The cases you hear about with frequent painful outbreaks are the unlucky ones, not the average cases.
Thank you everyone! I like the idea of me being tested to see if I have antibodies against the Herpes 2 virus. I have tried to educate myself as much as I can on this. I know that getting Herpes is not a death sentence or as serious as HIV, it is merely an annoying little disease. However there are different reaction levels for people and with my luck I would be one who had horrendous outbreaks.
Right now I feel like having sex would be a little like playing Russian Roulette, and although there is a low chance of catching it, 4% - that still is a very real possibility.
Of course to complicate things is the fact that I do really care for her. If I didn't I would even be posting this stuff online - I would have simply told her that it was a dealbreaker for me and that I was sorry we didn't work out. Thanks again for the advice. I need to make a decision on this and the sooner the better.