Questions about herpes.

I am in the process go going through a divorce and have been living by myself for the last 10 months. Something I like to do that I am finding hard to do by myself is eating at restaurants besides fast food or someplace like Dennys. I occasionally can bribe my grandchildren to go out with me but it’s not the same as going with someone of the fairer sex. About a month ago I was telling my tale of whoe to a former co-worker and she said she had a neighbor in a similar situation. A few days later I got a phone call from the neighbor and we went out for dinner at a fairly nice place. Since then we have gone out to eat a few more times. This past Saturday we went to a few local estate sales (she never heard of them) and visited an antique mall. That night I BBQ’d a couple steaks and we drank a growler of beer from a local brew pub. I could tell she was getting very relaxed when she suddenly called her roommate to come pick her up, she said she wasn’t feeling well.

I had picket duty last night (yep, Boeing employees are still out) and when I got home about 8:30 I found a note from her on my front door. She explained that because of her ex-husband, she is herpes positive. She said she was in a serious relationship a few years ago with someone like me but said he could live with the chance of getting herpes. He became infected and decided his life was now ruined and attempted to sue her for quite a bit of money. Because of this she said she can’t get involved with someone who does not have herpes, she enjoyed our time together but was afraid things may go further.

I have done some Googling this morning and have found a lot of info. The biggest thing is taking the necessary precautions to prevent transmission. I was wondering if there are others in a similar relationship and what you do keep your the uninfected partner that way. I’m not ready to give up on this relationship yet, it’s not often an old fat dude like me can catch the eye of pretty young lady (well, 7 years younger than me).

The OP appears to be seeking opinions and experiences as opposed to a factual answer. I think this thread will do better in In My Humble Opinion. I’ll moved it there from General Questions.

General Questions Moderator

A couple where one partner has herpes symplex virus but the other doesn’t is called a “dischordant couple”. I have a friend whose husband has had herpes for probably 10 or more years. They’ve been married for seven, and she is still virus free. So, it’s possible.

Things you need to be aware of:

  • HSV can be transmitted even when there are no symptoms present. That’s how most people catch it.

  • Even then, just avoiding intercourse when the infected partner has prodrome or outbreak symptoms is enough to keep most people from catching it.

  • Valtrex has been shown to limit transmission of HSV in dischordant couples. However, without insurance, it’s prohibitively expensive - around $800 a month. It goes off patent in a couple of years, which should make it less expensive.

  • Most people with herpes don’t know it because their infection is so mild. Once she’s a year out from her initial outbreak, she’ll have a better idea how to manage.

I have herpes. Both HSV1 and 2, because one of my partners lied to me about his test results. Since then, I’ve been in one relationship, and the man I was with caught it from me, despite my efforts to protect him. He also tried to use it to manipulate me during our break up.

Herpes is not a death sentence. It’s not a scarlet H. It’s not a punishment or a judgment. It’s a virus. Unfortunately, there’s still a huge stigma attached to it, which is part, I think, of what led my former partner to lie to me about his HSV status.

If you are interested in her, please let her know. There are plenty of resources available on the Internet and more than a few books on the subject. I can’t imagine how hurt she must have been when her ex threatened to sue her. That’s nightmarish.

Be patient. Be honest. Understand that she just may not be willing to risk you or herself.

I hope she does. You sound like a wonderful guy.

I have the herpes simplex virus 1, which gives you cold sores on your lips. Now a cold sore on your lip is probably not as big a deal as a sore on your Johnson, but there are similarities. I can’t touch my wife if I have a cold sore, and thus far she’s avoided catching them off me over 10 years. I assume similar abstinence is called for if you have genital herpes - not really a big deal.

Co-incidentally I have a cold sore right now. They definitely do suck, but it’s the first one that I’ve had in over 2 years, brought on by a 21 hour flight Aus - UK and the accompanying jet-lag and getting a bit run down.

There is probably a large range of severity for herpes outbreaks. My cold sores are very infrequent, last a week, and if I’m quick and blast them with over-the-counter acyclovir early doors they don’t even develop. My sister in law OTOH gets really severe sores and swelling all over her face in an outbreak and is on an acyclovir perscription.

There’s something really foreboding about infecting another person with a disease that they will never get rid of the rest of their life. I have a baby son, for example, who I would really hate to catch cold sores off of me. But the reality of herpes is a lot less awful than the reputation IMHO, and would definitely be worth coming to terms with in your situation - particularly as you may never get infected in the first place.

It’s unclear to me from your OP if this is a nascent romantic relationship or a friendship, or if she has oral or genital herpes. If it’s just a friendship with oral herpes, I would avoid sharing a glass or fork with her, and avoid sharing food (even with two forks) while she’s got an active sore. If she were ever to shower at your place, have a set of towels/washcloths just for her, and a unique looking glass that’s “hers” so you don’t accidentally drink out of it while she is (after washing in hot soapy water, it will be fine again). Don’t kiss her hello or goodbye when she’s got a sore. Beyond that, there’s not much casual contact that will spread herpes.

If it’s a romance, we’re out of my area of expertise. But I will say that my parents have been married for 23 years now and my Dad hasn’t caught Mom’s (oral) herpes. None of us three kids caught it, either, although she herself caught it from her mother as a child.

Obviously, you have to make your own decision about whether or not you’re comfortable increasing your risks by forming a sexual relationship with someone who has herpes. If it were I, and I old enough to have grandchildren, I’d risk it, to be honest. It’s not a deathtrap, it’s not the end of the world, and there are fairly decent treatments for the inevitable outbreaks if you do contract it. But I wouldn’t presume to make anyone else’s decision for them.

Further to all the really useful stuff in this thread :- if you have HS1 (facial cold sores) you should look at obtaining a Virulite. This is an Infrared device that irradiates the sore and (apparently) improves the immune response. Not only does it speed the healing, you are less likely to get a recurrence at the irradiated site. I’ve had one for a couple of years now, and I really like it, and (IMHO) it works. The frequency of outbreaks that I used to suffer has really dropped away, and those I do get are smaller and heal quicker.

Whether it works for HSV in locations not on the face, I have no idea (but the FAQ on the web site indicates that it may).

YMMV, but this is my preference for treatment of HSV.


I had written a longer response but it failed to post properly. Here’s the summary:

  1. I’m 42.
  2. I have oral herpes and have been infected since early childhood.
  3. I have an un-infected partner of 12 years.
  4. I am aware of when an outbreak will happen for me by a tingling sensation.
  5. My outbreaks are infrequent with 2 to 5 years between outbreaks.
  6. My outbreaks happen whenever I have a weakened immune system due to a cold, flu, extreme lack of sleep, or stomach virus (rarely).
  7. I have no experience with genital herpes.
  8. I think much of the stigma of herpes is generated by drug companys’ desire to sell products.
    I’m aware that HSV1 or HSV2 can affect either the face or genitals or both and can be spread even when there are no legions. Some people have frequent, severe, prolonged outbreaks. So although oral herpes has been no big deal for me or anyone that I know, it may not be the case for you.