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Herpes Exposure Timeline
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Herpes Exposure Timeline

I have recently been diagnosed with HSV-2 and am currently having a full-blown outbreak. I started Valtrex on July 27. I am contacting the people I have been with over the past seven months to let them know, but I am trying to figure out who I got it from. The timeline is: unprotected sex on July 18 with first symptoms appearing on July 23 (herpes confirmation on July 27). I have been with this particualar person three times since July 1 and haven't been with anyone else during that time. This person SWEARS he is clean and has never had even as much as a cold sore. Is it possible that I got it from someone else? There are four other men I have been with on a regular basis over the past seven months. I sometimes have chafing and other minor irritants after sex with them. Can the virus be dormant then suddenly appear after an encounter with someone who is not infected? Or does it make more sense that I was infected on July 18 and the person who infected me didn't know he had it?
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239123_tn?1267651214
As a generalization, the symptoms of the first episode are the most prominent that a person with genital herpes ever has.  You don't describe the severity of your outbreak.  But if "full blown" means large numbers of lesions, especially on both sides of the body (e.g. both labia--although you don't say your sex, I'm guessing female); or if you have inguinal lymphadenopathy (lymph node inflammation in the groin), or systemic symptoms like headache or fever, then for sure you have a new infection.  But if you have a small, localized outbreak without other symptoms, it is possible you have been infected for months or even years, but only now are experiencing your first symptomatic outbreak.  In that case, it is might be possible that your earlier "chafing" represented minor herpes symptoms.

So your use of "full blown" implies a new infection.  Certainly the timing of onset is most consistent with new infection in mid-July; 5 days is typical for the incubation period.  If in doubt based on the timing and nature of your symptoms, you should have a blood test right away.  If negative for HSV-1 and/or HSV-2 now, and if the test becomes positive to either virus in a few weeks, it will prove you had a new infection. (Presumably you have had a culture test, not just visual diagnosis by a provider.  It is crucial that you learn whether you are infected with HSV-1 or -2.)

Your partner's strong belief he isn't infected and lack of symptoms don't mean much.  Most infected people have no symptoms yet can transmit the infection.  Your partner needs to have a blood test for sure.  If he refuses, in my opinion, your partner is ethically obligated to assume he is infected and to inform future partners of that suspicion.  If he remains disbelieving, refer him to this website, or print out this response for him.

I hope this helps.  Best wishes--  HHH, MD
6 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for your quick response.

In addition to the outbreak (clusters of open sores in vaginal and anus areas), I have had a fever (101.5), chills, severe headache, body aches, a bad sore throat, and VERY painful urinating. The doctor took a culture as well as looked at a sample under the microscope (the sample was inconclusive), but he didn't take a blood test. I have a scehduled appointment with him in Aug, so should I ask for a blood test then?

I have informed the other people I have been with although it sounds like they are safe (I told them the timeline). I have not been with anyone else since meeting the person who might be the culprit. I will print your responses out for him to read.
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239123_tn?1267651214
You clearly are experiencing a true primary infection, i.e. your first infection with either HSV-1 or -2.  If the culture is positive, make sure they test to determine the virus type (some labs don't do it unless asked). If that is done, a blood test now is optional.  A later test (10-12 weeks from now) should show positive to the same type as the culture.  But if the culture is negative, you need a blood test right away as well as a follow-up test in 3 months.

Your partner of July 18 is the only possible source of your infection.

Good luck--  HHH, MD
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Avatar_n_tn
I know its possible, but really how common is it that someone such as c biskit her would harbor herpes and have an ooutbreak later than the 2-14 day usual period?
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, I was wondering when you say first symptoms, are your referring to itchiness or the actual appearance of blisters?  I'm curious because I had protected sex with someone who has genital herpes and two days afterwards only my scrotum was itching, tingling and uncomfortable.  This has continued for 6 days with no appearance of anything abnormal, so I'm not sure if I should be waiting to see something.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi,

The timeline went like this: Unprotected sex (vaginal, receiving oral and arse play) on July 18. A day or two later I felt itching and general uncomfortable-ness (not uncommon after intercourse for me). I didn't mention in my original posts that within a day or two after the event I got a horrible fishy smell "down there." I thought I was getting a yeast infection. I washed with lots of soap and water and that is when I began noticing the itching and stinging. I thought it was irritation from using so much soap (sensitive skin). (Turns out I also had a bacterial infection.)

Masturbated on July 23 and that is when everything went haywire. On July 24 I started to get burning while urinating, a sore throat, a BAD headache, and general aches and pains. I looked up herpes on the internet and looked at photos (yuck!). I decided to check myself "down there" and found small red bumps. On July 25 I checked again and I believe I had one leasion. On July 26 the leasion was gone, but it hurt so much to urinate that I called my gyno to get in ASAP. Went in on July 27 and he said it looked like herpes, took a culture and a sample to look at under the microscope. Sample was inconclusive. He put me on Valtrex for a week. On July 28 I had a 101.5-degree fever, with all the other symptoms.

A few days later the gyno called to tell me the test was positive for herpes (didn't type it, though) and the bacterial infection. I went back to the gyno on Aug 9 for a followup test for something else (found out a few days before this all happened that I have high-risk HPV). I got blood drawn to test for everything and asked to have the herpes typed.

That was my experience. From what I am reading, some people get the full outbreak and flu-like symptoms while other people get almost nothing at all. Unfortunately, the more I read, the more confused I get...

c-biskit
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