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HSV-1 Genital Herpes transmission question

So my question might be uninformed, for which I apologize in advance.  My wife is having what she is thinking is an “initial” outbreak of genital herpes.  It was tested and it came back positive for HSV-1.  Negative to HSV-2.  This is the strain that is more associated with Oral Herpes than Genital, but it can happen.  She is thinking she must have had a prior oral herpes infection that has “migrated” to a genital case.  Or that she caught it from sharing towels with family members that have oral herpes.  My question is, how did she get it?  I thought genital HSV-1 happens from oral sex and oral sex only.  Maybe genital sex from a person who has an active genital hsv-1 outbreak, but that is not common.  Could she have had a long latent exposure to HSV-1 genitally many years ago and then now it is showing up?  I am HSV-1 and HSV-2 negative....so thus my concern.
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Avatar universal
She could’ve been infected orally and genitally at the same time . Has she had a obvious cold sore ever ? Or she could’ve been infected genitally from receiving oral sex and is just now having an outbreak . Some people have outbreaks days , weeks , months and years after getting infected . Genital hsv1 is quit benign and it’s rarely transmitted do to few recurrences and low shedding rate which = low transmission . Did she get her outbreak swabbed ? If not she needs to do so she can know her hsv1 infection is in fact genital .
207091 tn?1337709493
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Totally agree with Justawoman - if this was just a blood test, that doesn't mean that she has ghsv1.

Herpes doesn't "migrate" to other areas of the body. If she had a sore cultured, and it came back as hsv1, that means she got it from oral sex. (Oral hsv1 can sometimes migrate to the eye, but herpes will never migrate from the mouth to the genitals. Herpes infects nerve groups. Genital herpes infects the sacral ganglia, which affects the boxer shorts area. Oral herpes affects the trigeminal nerve, which only affect the face.)

When she got it is impossible to know. The IgG herpes type 1 blood test misses 30% of infections, so you could indeed have it and transmitted it to your wife if you perform oral on her. She could have had it for years - prior to knowing you-  and for some reason is just now getting an outbreak.

If she had an IgG blood test done, and it was positive, all it means is that she's had the infection for longer than a few weeks. It can take up to 4 months to develop antibodies, but many develop them much sooner.

This may be something you never really figure out. If you're concerned that she was unfaithful, this isn't nearly enough evidence alone to determine that.

2 Comments
Thanks for your response.  It was a sore/blister culture.  Not blood test.  Her Doctor seems to believe this is an initial outbreak.  But i take your point on timing.  The part that i cant get my head around is the incubation period between exposure and first symptoms.  Can a person be exposed but not get symptoms until 19 or 20 years later?  
Absolutely. I'm not sure why the doctor thinks this is a primary outbreak. There's really no way to know that unless she does an IgG blood test that is negative now and positive later, or has a negative test from the recent past and tests positive now.

It's very possible that she had an outbreak 20 years ago that was brushed off as a yeast infection or something, and then never had any symptoms until now. It's also possible that you have it, but the IgG missed your infection, and you infected her recently if you perform oral on her.

I understand wanting to know. I'd want to know. It's important to realize that you may never know, though.

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