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Avatar universal

Transmission rates?

I had unprotected vaginal intercourse with someone for 1-2 minutes (pulled out, decided no condom was a bad idea).  I found out later that she was positive for HSV2 and didn't think to tell me because she didn't know you could transmit it if you didn't have symptoms.  

What are the chances from this single exposure of me contracting the virus being that she didn't have symptoms at the time of the exposure?
52 Responses
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
Last response,
This is reasurring.  I tested negative at 1 month-ish, which is further reassurance.  I was worried because my Doctor told me that he had seen someone catch HSV2 and Hepatitis from his first sexual experience.  Is your assessment based on expert knowledge or personal experience or what (do not mean to offend, just curious about where your knowledge base comes from :P).
101028 tn?1419603004
it's incredibly low risk. You could also get run over by a bus while going to get your mail today.  

Avatar universal

I think you should look at the facts yourself Jason, and use your common sense.. Fact (1) Unprotected sex, Fact (2) HSV2 positive partner, Fact (3) HSV can be transmitted with or without symptoms, Fact (4) You can have HSV without symptoms

A person can contract HIV/aids in 2 minutes - so what exactly are they trying to say?

I think we should beware of persons on this site who are too quick to provide "reassurance" - which we are all looking for.

Wait your 3 months and do your blood tests, and don't engage yourself sexually (unprotected) during this time.
101028 tn?1419603004
You are also very unlikely to contract hiv in 2 minutes....gloom and doom much?

there is a point where you have to chose to either worry yourself to death about very low risk or you can pursue testing needlessly.  Folks who have hsv2 are not contagious 24/7.  Yes indeed you can contract hsv2 from a  one time encounter when no symptoms are present but the risk is very, very low.  If as a male you have a 4% risk per year in a discordant relationship then the risk per sex act is too low to make it worth testing for each time you have unprotected sex ( especially when it's only 1-2 minutes ). Add to that the fact that just knowing your hsv2 status has been shown to double the length of time until transmission occurs in discordant couples you are at less risk having sex with someone who knows they are hsv2+ than you are with someone who has it and has no idea.  If you follow HHH/EWH's board you'll see that they actually recommend herpes testing far, far less than we do even.  It's not just some folks here trying to give false reassurance and trying to down play the risk it's assessing risk based on facts and not fear.

Avatar universal
Aren't you the one who thought your sciatica was related to herpes who had one protected encounter with a hooker? There really is a point where overreacting and emotionality overtake common sense. If you look at the actual science, "Jason's" risk is too low even to worry about.
Avatar universal
I'm definitely not going to have sex of any kind until I have tested negative at 6 months.  Forgoing pleasures for a few months is worth preventing the possibility of giving someone an STD.

I just wanted to know realistically what my chances were for reassurance purposes.  I've heard from the TV and from my actual doctor that herpes can be spread when you don't have symptoms / most people with herpes don't have symptoms but I was just curious as to what the actual rate of spread was for my scenario.

I like you am "too worried" to not look at these forums periodically.
Avatar universal
I'm curious about the time factor (1-2 minutes). Is that such low risk because the virus needs to be "massaged into the skin" as I've seen stated?
Avatar universal
Glad you've taken my advice J.

I wish you all the best, and I too am awaiting the results of my 6 month test (I was negative at 7 weeks, but have had strange symptoms daily since then).

Why yes, waringblender, I'm glad you recognized me, and glad that you realized I was initially referring to you.

That's just my opinion, I cud be wrong.

Grace, good job.
101028 tn?1419603004
I'm totally with waring here - I wouldn't even bother testing let alone waiting 6 months to do so.  If you really feel that you can' tmove on until you do test - do so at 3 months and then put it behind you.  don't spend half a year nervous about such a low risk encounter - it's just not worth it.  

If she hadn't been honest and told you that she had herpes - would you be this worried?

Avatar universal
I'm a female who got hsv2 over 20 years ago. Have had unprotected sex with long term monogamous boyfriends, who unless they got it and don't know about it, didn't get it. Pregnant twice and my kids didn't get it. With my ex husband for 13 years and he didn't get it. I never had sex with someone when I was having an out break or when prodrome symptoms were present...transmission was possible with Jason's partner, but in all likelihood, he has nothing to worry about. Taking a test in a few months will LIKELY prove that. Reassuring him of that rather than feeding his anxiety seems the better path.
Avatar universal
I am not a worried as I was before, but that is because I'm more knowledgeable than I used to be.  But to answer your question Grace, yea I'd still be worried.  

My situation:  I hooked up with a girl I was acquainted with and had hung out with several times before, and kind of liked.  The next morning when we're both sober I'm glad I aborted the operation before its completion but am still thinking that it wasn't such a hot idea.  Then she hits me with the H-bomb tidbit that she has herpes.  If she hadn't, I would still have been worried though not to the same extent because there would have been that gray area of "even if she had it I might not have gotten it... but she may not have had anything".  The "She may not have had anything" part was 50% of what was keeping me calm, and that was all taken away in one deft strike.  

Messy business, all this.  Thanks for your help though.  Also, thanks for sharing your information Cat, much appreciated.
Avatar universal
The low risk is not because of the "time factor." Well, probably that has something to do with it. The low risk is because the chance that the woman happened to be shedding virus or having an outbreak during that 1-2 minutes is just infinitestimally low. Even when people shed the virus, there is no "guarantee" that infection will take place. Think about it: People with HSV2 shed, statistically, about 15% of days in a year. During that time, you don't know of course when you are shedding, but you also don't know how much you are shedding, and you probably are not shedding 24/7 during that time. Shedding is intermittent.

This guy's risk over the course of a YEAR is something like 4-5% risk of contracting herpes from his partner. That's not with each episode of sex, that's over the course of a sexual relationship week after week after week during a *year.* Now divide that risk by 1-2 minutes on any random day, like this guy had, and you can see how low the risk is.

People are misinformed about herpes. It's not that easy to get. And like grace said, you are better off with somebody who knows they have it and can take precautions and know their body and when their outbreaks occur.  But most people don't even know they have it so they can't protect you.

Avatar universal
Well, to be fair blender, many websites that should be very credible (like the Valtrex website, for example) say that herpes can be passed to partners even with no symptoms, etc.  They don't go into detail on the rate at which this occurs or anything like that, which makes it sound very grim.  Also, some websites even refer to herpes as "highly infectious".  I think this is because so many people have HSV 1 and they are comparing HSV1/2 or possibly because they are deeming it infectious on a scale relative to literally every other virus or bacterial infection out there.. I don't know.

There is a lot of misinformation out there from credible sources.  That being the case, a smart person would look at the scope of information out there and err on the side of caution and worry about it.

This may result in a few months or more (depending on personality type) of stress that, in hindsight, may have been unwarranted... But if everyone who has had a potential exposure, no matter how small the chance of them having it, worried and got tested, the spread of this STD and others would be greatly reduced.  This would never happen, I know, as there are a lot of stupid people running around that **** anything and everything that moves and never worry about STDs.  I see this all the time in college.  It's annoying.
Avatar universal
"...[a] lot of stupid people running around that **** anything and everything that moves..."

People in glass houses.

Avatar universal
Point taken.  Though I've only had sex with one other person- a girl I dated from 8th grade to freshman year of college.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your response. I see your point, which makes a lot of statistical sense. I'm also hypothesizing that if the woman in this scenario had been shedding during that interlude, it might take more than 1 or 2 minutes to "massage the virus into the skin." I beleive I read that phrase on the doctor's forum on some of the threads and am just assuming that that is what it means. Of course, to everyone who reads this, I am by no means a medical professional and this is just my interpretation. Anyone who wants to correct me, feel free as I am truly just in the learning stage about this virus. Your comment about the stigma really hits me hard as I am feeling it intensely having just recently been diagnosed and trying to sort things out. Since this virus is so common (and you really don't find that out until you get diagnosed), you would think there would be more public information available on it. I mean, wouldn't it be nice if Oprah did a show?
Avatar universal
You're right, and according to the doctor's site, it might even take multiple exposures during shedding to become infected.  

If you've recently been diagnosed, you will feel better down the line. I think it's a shock for most everybody when they are first diagnosed. Nobody wants to have it. But it really isn't that big of a deal. Obviously, if 90% of the people who have it don't even know, it's clearly not a medical issue. (For them, it's not even a social stigma issue, since they don't know they have it!) But the social part isn't even a huge deal. I've not had any problems getting dates and having sex, both casual and in LTRs, since having herpes. And I'm no spring chicken (I'm in my late 40s.) My herpes has not been the reason that my relationships don't work out. There are always bigger issues we are dealing with, like communication stuff in general, or scheduling problems/spending time together, and whatnot. Herpes is really a minor thing in the context of a relationship.

I think posters like those in this thread, the OP and that hypochondriac person, are not the norm if you are out there dating. They are the outliers in terms of being fearful, judgmental, and ignorant. Most people out there can put it into perspective.
Avatar universal
It's the HYPOCHONDRIAC aka 2Worried.

I live my life on the principle that IT IS better to be safe than sorry, and sometimes..better to be 2Worried, than not at all.. Believe me, it is not going to hurt Jason for 3 months, to worry about something that in retrospect, he believes he shudn't have done.. and probably will never do again. This is the value of worrying, he will appreciate his results even more, if they are negative, and probably learn a more valuable long term lesson (it will sink in more, trust me). If he does not care now, he may not care in the future.

That is what I am going thru right now. I wish that I can take back the months Aug - Oct 2007, and go back in time. I agree with Tes77 that it would help dramatically if there were better Public Service Announecements about this infection (the Valtrex commercials for example, tell us that it can be passed during outbreaks - - but what about telling us that u can still get it with a Condom?? Will their sales drop if they do this?) Tes - never heard about "massaging it in" (cuz if that's true I ain't got it).

Jason seems like a smart guy, who's seeing all the angles (obviously a college guy). Really Waringblender, there is a TON of information out there that would fly in the face of what either you or grace is saying. That is not to say that you are not correct as someone who has gone through this, or grace who works in the medical profession. And Medhelp is very helpful.

For me, I guess I'm what you call an Independent (still voting for Obama), and I like to make decisions on my own. I have been reassured by Waringblender, Grace, Dr. H, Dr. E, and my Dr. here, but I have symptoms that I cannot attribute to anything else (sometimes you have to walk in a person's shoes to know).

I will take the balanced approach, and I will know shortly. J can do what he wants - he is having no symptoms I believe. But he certainly is not going to have a heart attack if he is concerned, and more vigilant about his body over the next 3 months. Oh how sweet the smell of Freedom, when we once believed it was taken away....
Avatar universal
Waring, you seems to be someone who is looking at this from a perspective of Stigma, or living with HSV.

That is not the perspective we are looking at it from - we are newcomers who are concerned about prevention, assessing symptoms, and diagnosis, as I am sure you were at one point.

No one is stigmatizing anything, we are not at that point.
Avatar universal
I appreciate the comments about the social life. It helps to hear from people who have experienced it. I will consider it a milestone when I cross that bridge and reveal my status to a potential partner. Just seems so scary to me right now, especially since when I revealed my status to the partner I was with when diagnosed, it didn't exactly go well. Regarding the public info., psas with more accurate info would be helpful, but I also think media coverage (or talk shows, made for tv movies, novels) that in some way normalized the condition would be beneficial. If anyone has heard of anything like this, I'd love to hear about it.
Avatar universal
I'm not juding people with the HSV infection.  It's really easy to get, you don't have to be a promiscuous person to get it.  Just looking at all the angles, as 2worried said.  I think he's right about learning a lesson too.  Hopefully in a month (the three month mark) I'll test negative again- a shot at redemption.  Anyways, this website has been very reassuring, but it seems too much so...

Most of the people on the Doctor's Forum seem to be at practically zero risk of having herpes according to Doctor Hook or EWH... They make it sound like its a lot harder to get than people think.  Then they go and say things like 1/5 females in the U.S. has it and most people don't know they have it because their symptoms are so mild or they have none at all, etc.  A guy on the forum earlier said he had red bumps that formed blisters and then burst and EWH said it didn't sound like herpes... How can that not sound like herpes?  I have to wonder whether or not he's on Valtrex's payroll.  
Avatar universal
I think the better question is whether u are an MD waringb..

We have the right to voice our disagreement with anything said here, even by the doctors.

It ain't rocket-science. There's too much information out there for everyone.
Avatar universal
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