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herpes transmission through clothes
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herpes transmission through clothes

I am with a wonderful woman who has HSV2--genital herpes. She contracted this a long time ago. For many years, she uses antiviral medicine daily (Acyclovir) and has not had an outbreak for many years. We have had intercourse a few times and I have always used a condom from start to finish. Nonetheless, I understand that there is still a small risk that the virus may be passed on to me (about 2% over the course of a year I believe). However, she is uncomfortable with this--she wants to refrain from intercourse as long as there is any chance I might contract the virus. I told her that this is unrealistic, that there is always a risk, but she persuaded me to ask these questions. I hope that you won't think that they are too silly.

What is the risk of passing the virus if there is no direct genital contact--if I am wearing underwear (or perhaps something a bit thicker like sleeping shorts or pajamas) and she is naked? In other words, there is some grinding (but no skin to skin contact), I am wearing sleeping shorts covering my genital reason and inner thighs, etc. and she is naked--can the virus pass through clothing? What is the clothing is scotch guarded or waterproofed? And I know that this is totally silly, but what if I have intercourse with her while wearing sleeping shorts and a condom with no skin to skin contact.

Thanks so much for being tolerant of these questions and helping me out. Greg Paris
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Hi, if your partner is using antiviral medication and you are using condoms, there is no point in covering up whatever skin is exposed to help "protect" you further. It just won't work. The virus doesn't pass through clothing, but you are already doing the 2 most important things you can to provide protection - the medication and the condoms. Hell, even if you ditch the condoms, your risk only goes up to 2% a year with just the medication alone.

It sounds like your partner isn't comfortable with her herpes status. She needs to be comfortable with it herself, but it sounds like you have reassured her as much as you can. :)

Do you really want to have sex with your partner without skin to skin contact? Is it really worth it, given the other precautions you are using? I would find that psychologically disturbing to be with a partner who wanted to do that. There's something degrading and insulting about it.

Bottom line is that the medications and the condoms are the best protection - plus avoiding sex if she has overt symptoms. Nothing else you do will further enhance your protection.

If she isn't comfortable with this, maybe the 2 of you together, or she alone, can see a counselor?  Has she ever had a negative partner before? Sometimes the first negative partner a person with herpes has can cause the anxiety of fear of transmission. Once you 2 start an active emotionally close sex life, though, and she realizes that the medication and the condoms really do work, she may calm down about it.

Until then, keep avenues of communication open with her, tell her she can ask questions here at this forum, or have her seek counseling. She might also find the doctor side of the STD forum reassuring, since they discuss the low risks of transmission all the time over there.

Good luck!  Hope this was helpful!
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Thanks so much for your help!
GregParis
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