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What are the chances of transmitting HSV 2 to partner?

Answered by
Dr. Rakhi Tayal


Practicing since :2001

Answered : 13172 Questions

Posted on Mon, 25 Aug 2014 in Pregnancy
Question: Hi, I have been married 20 years. We have 3 kids together. 3 years ago during a separation, I had two unprotected sexual encounters with a person I knew. He told be he had been "tested" for stds and was good. Hubby and I reconciled. Fast forward 2 years - visit with new GYN. Decided to do STD testing - no symptoms. Everything fine for everything except HSV 2 was IGG specific (herpes Select) was 3.8. Had HSV Western Blot and was negative for HSV1 and postive for HSV2. Again, no symptoms. Last week hubby tested postive HSV 1 and Negative HSV 2. My husband and I had never been tested for any STDs prior to this as monogamous and without issues. Contacted partner from 3 years prior who tells me he is negative HSV 2 and he is going to give me paperwork, but I have not seen his labs. So, currently I'm on Valtrex to protect hubby. Question: is risk of two unprotected encounters (brief) that high? Even if acquired 3 years ago from new partner, husband has not contracted HSV 2. Or is it likely I've had antibodies from premarital dating 20 years ago (7 partners) and never transmitted to husband? Trying to grasp the risk for my husband at this point as I am symptom free and taking Valtrex 500 QD.
Answered by Dr. Rakhi Tayal 22 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Chances of transmission are low.

Detailed Answer:
Thanks for trusting us with your health concern.
HSV1 is a common infection and can be present for years without a transmission. HSV 2 usually causes a genital herpes. It is possible that your husband is already producing the antibodies for HSV2 and you have antibodies for HSV1.
A casual relationship 3 years ago or premarital relations also could have transmitted the infection. Your infection was dormant as you were asymptomatic before the infection was detected.
This detection of infection should not affect your relation with your husband. Since you have not transmitted the infection in last 3 years the chances of transmitting the infection now are also low. Please do not worry.
Please feel free to discuss further. I will be glad to answer the follow up queries that you have.
Wishing you good health.
Dr. Rakhi Tayal.
For future query, you can directly approach me through my profile URL

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Rakhi Tayal 1 hour later
Thank you for your answer, Dr. Tayal. If hubby's IGG herpes select specific for HSV 1 and 2 showed antibodies for type 1 and not for type 2.....are the HSV 1 antibodies protective? Also, is the HSV western blot 100% accurate? Or is swab of lesion only for sure way to formally diagnose? Finally, is it true that the risk for transmission during brief unprotected encounter with an unknown status partner is pretty low if they are not having outbreak? Thank you very much for your expert opinion :)
Answered by Dr. Rakhi Tayal 9 hours later
Brief Answer:
Details below.

Detailed Answer:
Thanks for writing again.
HSV-1 antibodies can give some protection against transmission of HSV-2. HSV Western blot is ore than 99% accurate. False positive is very rare.
Swab culture from the lesion is a more sure way of diagnosing the infection.
Yes. This is also true that the risk of transmission is minimal if there is no active outbreak at the time of unprotected sex.
Hope my answer is helpful.
Do accept my answer in case there are no further queries.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

The User accepted the expert's answer

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