I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have herpes (iÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been tested several times for both HSV-1 and -2, and have been celibate for several years), but iÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m encountering more and more folk who do, and i understand that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still a rather mysterious disease; hence, since iÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m thinking of re-entering the dating scene soon, iÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been looking over my notes on herpes and checking websites to see how our knowledge of it has progressed.
I have a few questions, and have given up trying to get through on the ASHA hotline (no fault of yours, of course, but iÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve called literally dozens of times, so iÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m trying a different route). (By the way: the hotline voice message says that the hotline operates 8Ã¢â‚¬â€œ8 when it should say 8Ã¢â‚¬â€œ6.)
First: IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to know the credentials of whoever answers my questions. As you probably know, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a LOT of misinformation about herpes even among health professionals in America. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m hoping you folk are abreast of the latest info.
Your webpage Ã¢â‚¬â€ http://www.ashastd.org/sexualhealth/ask ... herpes.cfm
Ã¢â‚¬â€ raises questions that iÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been wondering about, so iÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll use it as a reference.ASHA website:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Once you are both infected with the same type of the virus (HSV-2 presumably in your situation), there is no need to use condoms or any other protection from herpes transmission since you cannot give someone Ã¢â‚¬ËœmoreÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ herpes infection.Ã¢â‚¬Â
This raises a few questions for me.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s my understanding that until oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s immune response is fully deployed against HSV-1 or -2, one is at risk of being newly infected with that
virus in another
part of oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s body either through autoinoculation or through interaction with someone else carrying that
virus. Is this correct? I ask because some herpes websites claim that the risk of fresh infection with the same virus by autoinoculation or a partner carrying that virus is zero after that virusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ first lesion outbreak, but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an unhelpfully vague rule-of-thumb since many folk are so asymptomatic that they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t realize they have HSV-1 or -2 till years after theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve contracted it. I know that for blood-test results to mean much in asymptomatic cases the blood must be drawn six months after possible infection because some people produce detectable quantities of type-specific HSV-1 or -2 antibodies within a few weeks of infection, and others take as long as six months. So, does this also mean that for several weeks to six months after initial infection (with HSV-1 or -2) one is at risk of being infected again with that virus in another part of oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s body either by autoinoculation or by a partner carrying it?
(IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m being very careful and redundant with my terminology because i understand that HSV-1 and -2 sometimes birth nearby secondary infections by creeping along nerve paths Ã¢â‚¬â€ which is not the kind of new, fresh, or secondary infection iÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m asking about.)
A related question is: What happens when oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s immune system grows chronically compromised due to stress, age, HIV infection, environmental toxins, chemotherapy, etc.? In other words, does a compromised immune system (which eventually happens, one way or another, to everyone) create risk of oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s being infected again with HSV-1 or -2 in another part of oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s body either through autoinoculation or through interaction with someone else carrying that virus? If so, i think it would be helpful for folk to have this possibility in the back of their minds so that they can take precautions against it when their immune systems become compromised. (I know that a compromised immune system tends to increase the frequency and severity of lesion outbreaks Ã¢â‚¬â€ which, i know, is a separate issue, but it does make me wonder about the possibility of multiple infections by the same herpes virus; hence, my question.)ASHA website:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you are both infected with genital HSV-2, it is very unlikely that you can acquire HSV-1 genitally from someone elseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mouth during oral sex.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Why is contracting both HSV-1 and -2 in the same area unlikely? And what if the scenario was reversed, i.e., what if a person already had genital HSV-1; would this mean that contracting genital HSV-2 is unlikely?ASHA website:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Also, it is difficult to acquire HSV-2 in your mouth from someone elseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s genital area that is infected with HSV-2.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Why is oral HSV-2 so rare when genital HSV-1 is now so common? Traditionally, HSV-1 was always seen in or around the mouth, and HSV-2 in or around the genitals and anus, but the prevalence of oral sex for the last few generations means that we can no longer make this assumption. Our current knowledge of herpes suggests that, in the developed world at least, HSV-1 is now prevalent both orally and genitally; health authorities like the University of Maryland School of Medicine say that HSV-1 causes approximately 50% of genital herpes cases these days. But HSV-2 has not paralleled HSV-1Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s migration, i.e., HSV-2 is still primarily found genitally (which is to say, HSV-2 can
infect our mouths, but, for some reason unknown to me, rarely does). Which raises the question: Why is oral HSV-2 still so rare? Do we know?
Those are my questions. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m guessing that others might be interested in the answers, too.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m forty years old; hence, iÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m meeting (and dating) folk with herpes more often as i age Ã¢â‚¬â€ sadly, i tend to know more about herpes than they do (i mostly fault AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capitalist health system for that). In any case, i prefer to understand the primary and secondary risks of health choices iÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m making (especially when thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an epidemic). And iÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m trying to be an informed sexual citizen for everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sake.
Can you dispel these mysteries for me? Or direct me to someone who can (who wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t charge me a $100)?
Thanks so much for your time and attention,