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.
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 antiviral medication help reduce risk before playing for those that are infected with oral HSV-1? Would use of antiviral 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.
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.