HIV positive and herpes risk: My boyfriend just told... - BASHH

BASHH

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HIV positive and herpes risk

Lit1 profile image

My boyfriend just told me he's got herpes.

We are both HIV positive and have been dating since November 2019. We have had unprotected sex since January, so am I at risk of getting herpes?

I have told him that we have to abstain from sex until I get tested. I'm in shock and upset that he didn't tell me because I want to have children and understand that you can pass herpes on from mother to baby.

6 Replies

Dear Lit1,

There are a number of options to consider and although it's quite upsetting that he's only told you now that he has herpes, he did absolutely the right thing. It's probably been quite difficult for him, too, trying to figure out the right time to raise this with you.

Getting tested for herpes when you currently don't have symptoms will be down to getting a special blood test (HSV type specific serology). It takes anywhere from 8-10 weeks from the time you are first infected for the test to be reactive. So are you prepared to abstain from sex for up to 2-3 months?? No sex = no oral, anal, vaginal or even genital rubbing!

OK, so let's imagine you go through this period of 'sexual quarantine' and you then test negative. What are you going to do about your future sexual relationship? You love him, you want kids with him but you don't want to catch herpes from him. Difficult dilemma, isn't it?

I think it's best that you speak to your HIV doctor (maybe bring your partner along) to discuss this subject openly and honestly with them.

If you live in the UK, you might also want to contact the Herpes Association to speak to a counsellor, herpes.org.uk/contact-us/

There are no easy answers to the dilemma you pose, often it's down to agreeing to a set plan or 'rules of engagement' that you and your partner agree on.

For example,

1. Avoid sex when he has symptoms of herpes.

2. Condoms for sex at other times.

3. Planned pregnancy- Unprotected sex only when you are mid-cycle (most fertile period), but only if he has no outbreaks of herpes.

4. Once pregnant, NO SEX WHATSOEVER until delivery.

Finally, make sure you both keep taking your HIV meds and ensure virological suppression (undetectable) that will maximise your health.

Good luck,

Adhari.

Lit1 profile image
Lit1 in reply to

Thanks so much Adhari I really appreciate your reply.

It must have been hard to tell me but we both have HIV and I accepted him regardless. He tells me that he thought everyone that has HIV has herpes too....I told him that this is not the case.

However I will definitely take you up on that idea of bringing him to my HIV doctor to talk more openly about it.

Also another thing, he doesn't like wearing condoms, he says they get I the way, what are we supposed to do when he doesn't have flare ups, the herpes virus is still there right?

in reply to Lit1

Dear Lit1,

Yes correct- I think you're alluding to the concept of viral shedding. It's certainly a risk you run if he insists on not wearing condoms. Shedding is high just before an outbreak of herpes and while the lesions are present. However, there is some low level shedding at other times, so there will be a risk (probably small) even if he has no symptoms of an outbreak.

Your partner is correct when he says that many people already have herpes if they are HIV+. So there is a possibility that you are already infected with herpes, albeit without showing any symptoms. Hence the need to have a discussion with your HIV doctor about the pros and cons of testing your HSV status.

Rgds,

Adhari.

Galen70 profile image
Galen70 in reply to

Excellent reply.

Hey - I understand your struggle - I may have something to help -

I don't know if it works, but it may be worth a try - saw a video on

Herpes Eraser' - check it out.

bit.ly/2ZRFSGx

Hi there, I think you would need to have a cesarean section birth regardless because of the almost certain event that you pass the HIV onto your baby during childbirth (if it doesn’t pass on in utero before hand - I don’t know anything about that). They would give you anti viral medication as a precaution anyway. Don’t stress though, If you get it - the initial outbreak is bad, and I guess the knowledge that you have it.s. But you soon forget about it, and if you ever get future outbreaks they’re barely noticeable in comparison and there’s antiviral medication for it anyway. I’ve been told that people with Herpes are much higher risk to contract HIV (I’m not sure why, maybe because of how the virus has already changed your body making it easier for the virus to get in), I’m not sure if it’s the same in reverse - having HIV making it much easier to catch Herpes. There’s a lot of info in medical journals so try sites like Pub Med and Mayo Clinic for articles. Otherwise I’m sure your doctor will be able to help. There was also a vaccine in development for people who don’t already have it (Herpes)

I’m sure it will all work out for you just fine 😊

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