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  1. #1
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    Default Questions - Cold Sores and HSV

    My wife and I are new to the LS so i have been doing quite a bit of research on STDs. In my research so far, nothing has scared us away from the LS because risks can be managed and reduced quite a bit by being selective with partners, using common sense, and using condoms.

    That is, until I started reading about HSV.

    HSV scares the hell out of me because it is incurable (although treatable and manageable) both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be spread even when asymptomatic. Some people never have outbreaks or are even aware they are infected and the blood tests also have high rates of false positives and negatives. Even monogamous married couples can go decades and never even know they are infected.

    HSV-1
    Oral HSV-1 can be spread to the genitals through oral sex. WHAT?! I was initially under the impression that they could only be spread mouth to mouth. Although less likely when there is no active cold sore, it can still be spread during periods of "viral shedding" when there are no discernible symptoms. WHAT AGAIN?! I was also under the impression that it could not be spread during inactive periods. On top of that, statistics indicate that up to 80 to 90 percent of the adult population is infected with oral HPV-1. So it is very, very likely that we will be exposed to HPV-1 eventually, if we have not already.

    One tried and true method to reduce exposure to HSV-1 is to not kiss and to use dental dams and condoms for oral sex. For the wife and I, this just completely removes the fun of oral sex for us. We would rather not partake in oral sex than use all that latex and refrain from kissing. Also, condoms are minimally effective for protecting yourself from genital HSV-1 because the scrotum is not covered.

    So I have a few questions about HSV-1 for the LS community that I was not able to find on the net.

    What is the actual/practical risk of contracting genital HSV-1, through kissing and unprotected oral sex, from someone that is infected with oral HSV-1 that does not have an active cold sore?

    Is there any way to reduce the risk, other than people not playing when a cold sore is present and using barriers? Would using an anitviral medication help reduce risk before playing for those that are infected with oral HSV-1? Would use of anitviral medications reduce risk for those that are not infected with oral HSV-1?

    What about disclosure? Should people that get cold sores disclose this to their potential playmates? I doubt this is done with any frequency since it is so prevalent and there is so much misinformation out there. I also noticed quite a bit of contradictory information from supposed "reliable" sites.

    HSV-2
    The problem I see with HSV-2 is that you can be infected and asymptomatic your entire life and never even realize you are infected. However, the good thing is that HSV-2, although common, is not as common as HSV-1.

    For HSV-2, do the antiviral drugs reduce the risk of transmitting and contracting the virus?

    For those that are completely clear of HSV-1 and HSV-2, do the antiviral drugs reduce risk of contracting the virus if we inadvertently play with those that are infected? If so, which ones do and how frequent is the dosing?

    In summary, this is probably the only STD (or potential STD when talking about HSV-1) that may cause us to reconsider our choice to further explore the LS. Are there ways we can lower our risk without excessive barrier use? Is the practical risk low enough that we need not be so hypervigilant? Are we being too worried about this and need to lighten up a bit?

    Even though we are very much better informed now, we are still pretty confused.

    Thanks in advance for your responses.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Questions - Cold Sores and HSV

    Ok, in your studies what numbers did you see for projected infection limits among the sexually active population?

    Secondly, how can you tell who has it? AFAIK there arent foolproof tests for males who are asymptomatic.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Questions - Cold Sores and HSV

    Quote Originally Posted by MN Tom View Post
    Ok, in your studies what numbers did you see for projected infection limits among the sexually active population?

    Secondly, how can you tell who has it? AFAIK there arent foolproof tests for males who are asymptomatic.
    Tom,

    I could not find any numbers. And the lack of foolproof tests is worrisome to us.

  4. #4
    Julie's Helper funcoupledayton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions - Cold Sores and HSV

    I think you may be mixing two different issues, HSV 1 & 2 (Herpes) and HPV (Human Papilloma Virus - warts and cervical cancer). There is not a good test for men for hPv.

    There is a blood test for HSV 1 & 2 that will tell you if you have the virus in your body. If you have neither it is very possible to contract either 1 or 2 through oral, vaginal or anal sex even if no cold sore or genital sores are present. If someone who has hsv1 or 2 is taking daily preventive medication the likelihood of transmission is reduced significantly. I don't know if you could take medicine to prevent acquiring hsv, I wouldn't think most Dr's would recommend it.

    HSV is a risk, but it's not life-threatening. Using condoms for intercourse cuts the risk by 50%. Here is an excellent website Westover Heights Clinic It has many statistics regarding transmission 1 vs 2, using medications, etc.

    In our experience no one has disclosed getting cold sores, but you can always ask. If you're asking I would know your own status through blood tests. If you have hsv1 already you can't get it again. Contracting genital hsv1 when you already have oral hsv1 is extremely rare. You can still get hsv2 if you have hsv1.

    As far as HPV, there is a vaccine. It's three shots. My Dr. recommended it when I told her I was non-monogamous. My insurance wouldn't cover it because I'm over 26 years old. It's very expensive, but very effective against the strains of the virus that cause cervical cancer. It was cheaper to get it through Planned Parenthood than through my Dr's office. Your wife might want to consider it. Cervical cancer is much, much more serious than herpes.
    Last edited by funcoupledayton; 08-17-2011 at 07:39 PM. Reason: addition

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Questions - Cold Sores and HSV

    Quote Originally Posted by funcoupledayton View Post
    I think you may be mixing two different issues, HSV 1 & 2 (Herpes) and HPV (Human Papilloma Virus - warts and cervical cancer). There is not a good test for men for hPv.

    There is a blood test for HSV 1 & 2 that will tell you if you have the virus in your body. If you have neither it is very possible to contract either 1 or 2 through oral, vaginal or anal sex even if no cold sore or genital sores are present. If someone who has hsv1 or 2 is taking daily preventive medication the likelihood of transmission is reduced significantly. I don't know if you could take medicine to prevent acquiring hsv, I wouldn't think most Dr's would recommend it.

    HSV is a risk, but it's not life-threatening. Using condoms for intercourse cuts the risk by 50%. Here is an excellent website Westover Heights Clinic It has many statistics regarding transmission 1 vs 2, using medications, etc.

    In our experience no one has disclosed getting cold sores, but you can always ask. If you're asking I would know your own status through blood tests. If you have hsv1 already you can't get it again. Contracting genital hsv1 when you already have oral hsv1 is extremely rare. You can still get hsv2 if you have hsv1.

    As far as HPV, there is a vaccine. It's three shots. My Dr. recommended it when I told her I was non-monogamous. My insurance wouldn't cover it because I'm over 26 years old. It's very expensive, but very effective against the strains of the virus that cause cervical cancer. It was cheaper to get it through Planned Parenthood than through my Dr's office. Your wife might want to consider it. Cervical cancer is much, much more serious than herpes.
    Thanks for the clarification and link. I WAS confusing HSV with HPV. I'll let my wife know about the vaccine and planned parenthood.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Questions - Cold Sores and HSV

    Susan here--The vaccine, while not a complete solution, has improved resistance in teenagers and young adults. My friend couldn't bring herself to take her 15 year old daughter for the vaccine, she simply cannot talk about sex much, and I volunteered. I explained to her, not wanting to overstep my bounds, that one day she would be an adult woman and this would help protect her from an adult disease called cervical cancer, but it wasn't complete, simply a preventive measure. That worked fine.

    By the way, the same vaccine is now available for teenage boys and young men, too. Men, chat up your sons and have them ,"step up to the plate," on this one.

  7. #7
    Swingers Board Addict twistedpretzels's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions - Cold Sores and HSV

    thank you all for the great info and links
    loves2lovepr
    we've only just begun

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    Afficiando of the Board Lascivious L&L's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions - Cold Sores and HSV

    The numbers I've seen, from the CDC, from the last general population study, is that 58% of the general population tested positive for HSV-1 and 20% tested positive for HSV-2.

    That means most adults have either HSV-1 or 2. That means most swingers have either one or the other. In other words HSV infection in adults is the norm, not the exception. Because most don't know it, it can be inferred that most infections don't come with symptoms. And it has been argued that the body can sequester HSV over time so that it may not be infectious. Most people who have initial symptoms, never have them again.

    HPV is common in sexually active adults and it is estimated that most sexually active adults are infected with at least one strain. If this estimate is correct, HPV is the norm and not the exception.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Questions - Cold Sores and HSV

    So I guess the moral of the story is that "ignorance is bliss." Not for us though. We are going to try to know our status through the testing that is available.

  10. #10
    Afficiando of the Board Lascivious L&L's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions - Cold Sores and HSV

    No, the moral of the story is be informed. Since most people have been exposed to HSV, assume you have been and all the people you meet have been also. Understand that because it's the norm, it's not the big, scary thing that the media has pumped up. It's ubiquitous. It's everywhere, much like colds and the flue. And like chickenpox, which is in the herpes family.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Questions - Cold Sores and HSV

    So since HSV is so ubiquitous and most people are unaware of their status, it would probably be better to also be blissfully ignorant of our own status in the absence of symptoms?

    I've also read on some forums that some people that are aware of their positive genital HSV-2 status don't disclose their status because they are on suppression therapy. What do you guys think of that? Seems a bit immoral and unethical to me since suppression therapy does not reduce the risk to zero.

    I was tested today for HSV-1 and HSV-2 via IgG. One thing that I learned is that if you are positive for HSV-1, the rate of false positive for HSV-2 can be as high as 50 percent. Anyone in this situation should get a confirmation of the positive HSV-2 result with a Western Blot test which only has a one percent false positive rate.

  12. #12
    Swingers Board Addict MrsPandMe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions - Cold Sores and HSV

    Becoming educated and aware of potential STD's is definitely good practice, but like all things medical, the more you research on the internet the scarier things are. Please try to remember that by and large, people who have "X" disease and are not having any problems generally won't be posting things on the internet about it. I remember when I was contemplating getting Lasik. Like a good patient, I thought I would try to become as informed as I could by looking up the procedure and potential side effects on the internet. Before I thought to dig into statistics and the such, I was convinced that I was going to go blind or have serious side effects from the procedure, since everywhere I turned were stories of doom and disaster! Finally after a frank discussion with my doctor (and my regular optometrist who did not do the procedure) and a read of CREDIBLE sources regarding statistics and other information did I realize how rare complications are so long as the proper pre and post surgical procedures are followed.

    Anyway, to the subject at hand. First, about HPV. Statistically, most every sexually active person has or will encounter HPV. Also, a male infected with most HPV strains will not remain so infected indefinitely, though his chances of re-infection are very high, since again a vast majority of the sexually active population has it. Moral: you probably have it. You're not going to die. Just assume you are at higher risk for cervical problems and don't skip your exams.

    As for HSV... The problem with HSV is as indicated in previous posts... There is a significant portion of the population that are HSV positive and have NO IDEA that they are. The reason being that, if you're not symptomatic, doctors won't generally test for it. Because of this, the statistical numbers of HSV-2 infections are significantly underreported. Best guesses place the number of adults infected with genital herpes in the United States at 50 million, which makes it one of the most prevalent medical conditions in the country. Anyway, the point being here, it's not that swingers are intentionally hiding an HSV infection they might have, it's that they have NO IDEA they have one, even if they are regularly tested for STD's.

    Bottom line, sex brings with it calculated risks, whether or not you are swinging. I would submit that swingers are MORE attuned to what is going on with their bodies in general and their genitals specifically then the general population but again, you have to have some indication of a problem to become suspicious, and HSV commonly shows no obvious signs of a problem.

    Like all probabilities and statistics, they can be made to say anything. Everything you do in life comes with some element of risk. Understanding those risks and how to mitigate them is a part of life, but there is no way to completely eliminate them without simply living in a bubble, which is inherently risky.

    Mr. P

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