We both have Genital Herpes

Dear Dr. Tom:

I have been dating a wonderful man for several months and we are about to enter into a sexual relationship. We both have genital herpes but neither have had an outbreak in a long time. Is there a likelyhood of spreading or increasing our infection by not using condoms? Thanks for your help.

Dr. Tom’s Response:

Dear Suzie:

You and your wonderful man both have genital herpes which is an implication of previous sexual partners by each of you. At least one factor in the decision to omit condoms during your sexual relationship is whether either of you may be carrying another sexually transmitted disease than genital herpes. Herpes infection may not travel alone. The principle, that each of you will be having intercourse (microbiologi-cally speaking) as well with every other partner each of you has had, applies here. Some of the other STDs can be asymptomatic or nearly so in women. This might be something for you to think about or give consideration to checking into. This might be something also to discuss with your wonderful man with whom it seems you should have such a relationship by now that an intimate discussion of this sort would not be difficult. Herpetic auto-inoculation from one part of the body to another is always possible but not always predictable. Oral-genital contact would be a likely way for cross-infection. That neither of you has had an outbreak in a long time is suggestive of mutually quiescent infections, and if neither of you are shedders, then the likelihood of cross or auto inoculation is in my opinion nil. However, remember the ?ifs?. The safest practice under the circumstances you have described is to use barrier protection.


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