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Questions on HSV2/HPV transmission
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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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Questions on HSV2/HPV transmission

My girlfriend and I met approximately 4 months ago.  This is a long distance relationship (approx 5 hrs), however, we do see each other about every other week and we both desire this to work out. Obviously, a long distance relationship, by its very nature, carries a risk.  We haven't had intercourse up to this point as I've been apprehensive in doing so as she was diagnosed with HSV2 approximately 5 years ago after an unprotected encounter.  She also informed me she was diagnosed w/ HPV around the same time.  A few questions:

1) It is my understanding HPV is of no concern as I've likely acquired it myself at some point.  Would the strain she acquired even be transmissible at this point and should I even worry about acquiring HPV?

2) My greater concern lies w/ the possibility of getting HSV2.  As her initial infection occurred approximately 5 years ago and she only had the initial symptoms w/ no recurrences to this date, is it possible she was misdiagnosed?  She does have a blood test at home she could take to confirm this.  Do you think it would be a good idea for her to take the test as she has never taken a blood test before?

3) Assuming a test does reveal she has HSV2, how effective is condom use in preventing transmission?  Would it be more effective to couple this w/ a suppressive therapy?

4) One more question.  Is there a chance of acquiring HSV2 through oral sex?  If so, I'm assuming the virus does not migrate?  Should I even be worried about performing oral sex?

I'm wanting this relationship to work out, just wondering if I'm being overly worried here.  Your answers to these questions are much appreciated.

Thank you!!!!

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1) There is no way to know for sure whether you have had HPV in the past (probably yes) or whether you currently are infected.  But most HPV infections don't matter, so just forget about it.

2) You don't say how her HSV-2 infection was diagnosed.  But most likely that was accurate and there is no need for further testing.

3) Search the forum for lots of information about condoms and HSV-2.  They are pretty good protection, but not perfect. But herpes isn't an important enough or serious enough STD to get in the way of an otherwise promising, committed relationship.  If you care for her enough, and if the relationship is one that you expect and hope to become permanent, getting herpes from her shouldn't matter very much.  Otherwise, you need to take precautions.  She could take suppressive antiherpetic therapy to further reduce the risk of transmission.

4) If you perform oral sex on your partner when she has an outbreak or is shedding virus, you could get an oral HSV-2 infection.  But there is no risk to you if/when she has oral contact with your penis.

You are the one who needs an HSV-2 blood test, not your partner.  About a quarter of the population is infected and doesn't know it, so for all you know, you already have been infected.  If so, you're out of the woods; you can't catch it again.  If your blood test is negative, then you and your partner should visit a herpes-knowlegeable health care provider and follow his/her advice about condoms, antiviral therapy, and so on.  

I hope this helps.  Best wishes--

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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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