Diagnosed with Infections

Herpes

Crossposting since some questions may be more relevant for this sub.

I got a Herpes test, and then I started to learn all about it. I didn’t even know the mouth type existed! That’s how ignorant I was. I described panicking because, during the sex eds I got, the message that the Herpes Test kit was all i needed. And I thought the virus was classified similarly to HIV with the message that only people who don’t practice safe sex and are “irresponsible” get this “disease”. I understand now I was part of the stigma, which is more common than I thought.

For the people who messaged me telling me to suspect my husband… It would make sense to think that for people outside our relationship. But we had an open conversation, and I got another STD test for a full profile this time. And he knows I don’t have doubts, but he says he wants to cooperate in case I do.

Just got diagnosed. Body shaking.

My doctor told me to stay away from the internet, yet here I am. Feeling so many things. I was in only one relationship before being with my now husband for almost 6 years. I had sex with a condom once before he admitted that I was a sidepiece and was not single barely 3 hours after and dropped me. He coerced me into oral which was without, and I feel even shittier about that now.

In September, I gave birth to a baby boy. My prenatal checks gave negative on all STDs and STIs. I also had a check once to support a friend who was scared of going alone. This was before my husband.

Before using only pills, I asked my husband if he was clean, and he said yes. Since the baby was born, we only did it once with a condom because I’m not on the pill now.

The doctor said the disease is super common and that probably exhaustion and stress from childrearing made dormant Herpes appear.

Friends and family

I called my husband, stating that I had no weird thoughts or doubts but wanted to inform him. He was generally positive and had not too many worries since I said I got medication prescribed. I asked about his STD testing, and he said he doesn’t remember if Herpes specifically was part of that test.

We are both monogamous and hope for another child in the future. I am shaken and too scared to tell anyone besides my husband. Can I kiss my baby? Hug him? Is he safe with me? It’s very defects. I am on medication now as well, and I have to stop breastfeeding because of it, which makes me super sad. 

I’m sure this is super upsetting and especially stressful. Since you have to stop breastfeeding, I hope I can help you feel a little bit better. I’m a medical doctor with a degree in virology/infectious diseases. Herpes comes in two main forms- HSV1 (generally considered your garden variety; 99% of people are exposed to it before age 5, and it generally causes fever-blisters on your lips/mouth). HSV2 (genital Herpes, sexually transmitted, causes blisters/sores around genitals). It IS possible to get HSV1 on your genitals (can happen from oral sex). And vice versa, although they are generally more adapted to their “usual” locations.

Treatment options.

Most human beings are exposed very early in life to HSV1- whether from their parents or relatives from drooling over toys that some other kid then puts in their mouth, or just from kids being kids in preschool, kissing, sharing cups, etc. HSV is a DNA virus that sticks around for life because it incorporates itself into cells where the viral DNA will remain dormant until it is reactivated— this can happen from stress or illness or even from UV light (so if you’re out in the sun). Due to a LOT of differences, some people are exposed. They never show symptoms or get a fever blister; they carry it around forever without causing problems.

Some people are sensitive and get a fever blister when stressed or lacking sleep. This often has to do with the genetics of YOUR immune system and how it responds to diet/stress/sleep; there’s not much you can do about it, although people notice certain things are triggers and will try to avoid them.

When it comes to STD Testing for genital Herpes or HSV2, it’s the same thing. Although it may be the virus, even when you don’t have an open sore, having open lesions doesn’t make it a LOT more likely that you’ll spread it. This is where medications like you’llex (valacyclovir) or acyclovir come in handy. They are great antivirals that can reduce the spread during active infection (as well as clear things up quickly). So yes, it is possible to spread HSV1/HSV2 when you don’t have an active lesion. But it is FAR more likely that you’ll spread it when you do.

Exams

STD tests include Herpes unless you specifically ask for it. Even in pregnancy, it is not advised to be part of routine testing. It can be expensive and may cause stress because people may not know they have it, but it is. Also, it may not be symptomatic and doesn’t change management. The only time HSV infection is doesn’t concern is if there is an active outbreak at the end of pregnancy that may limit options for vaginal delivery because, for sure, you don’t want to expose a newborn to HSV as they’re coming out on the birth canal.

Active outbreaks

If they have an active lesion on your lips/mouth- I would probably refrain from kissing your baby on their face until it’s healed. Same with your husband. If you have an active one on your genitals, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t hug and kiss your baby as you’ve washed any time you’ve been in contact with genitals.

You can have a Herpes test and infection repeat again and again; depending on the kind of HSV you have and where it is located, you may want to limit what kind of sexual contact you have when you have active lesions (so if they’re on your mouth, obviously stay away from oral sex) othey’reey’re on your genitals, use protection or abstain while active symptoms and get an STD test to confirm it.

The stigma

HSV is one of the most ancient viruses that has been with human beings since before we were fully human. It has ALWAYS lived with us. I know there is a stigma, but it is ignorant. As I said, 99% of the population or more has been exposed to HSV1 and carries it around (it is nearly impossible to avoid, honestly), so if that is what you’re worried about, definitely don’t. HSV2 (genital Herpes Testing is also EXTREMELY common. It does more so than people realize, and unless you have an active outbreak with lesions, you may not even know you’ve been exposed. Unless you specifically ask for tests not to be part of routine STD screening (so your partners may have had a “clean” screen and not know).

Either way, life can be VERY real. Of course, you should always be upfront with your doctors and partners (which it sounds like you are) and have medication available as needed. And life will go on. Some people will seriously have one outbreak, and that’s it- or they’ll go years before it becomes a different problem.