Name: S
Age: 33
Sex: Female
Type (HSV1/HSV2): Unknown
Mo/Yr Infected: Jan 1998
Number of OB's/yr: Too soon to tell.
Prodromes: Not sure yet...still trying to read the signs. I have experienced daily slight burning sensations that come and go and occasional minor shooting pains in my thighs. But these have not led to full blown outbreaks.

Method Of Control: Took Famvir for my primary OB...no medication since. I do however take a multivitamin, 1000mg of Lysine daily and avoid chocolate and nuts. In general, I try to simply maintain an overall healthy lifestyle including plenty of sleep, exercise, good food and minimal stress.

Experience w/ Doctor: I went to the doctor complaining of itching, burning and what looked like a rash on my genitals. I also had major flu-like symptoms, but didn't put two and two together at the time. The lesions were just beginning to present themselves, but she was suspicious enough to do a culture for Herpes. I was notified by phone, while in work, two days later. My doctor was not exactly up to date on the latest in Herpes research, however. She couldn't understand how I could have contracted Herpes since my boyfriend exhibited no symptoms. She obviously had never heard of asymptomatic or sub-clinical shedding because she told me that if it was Herpes, I was only contagious if lesions were present. She basically told me this was no big deal, wrote a prescription and sent me on my way. When I realized that there was actually two types of herpes (HSV1 & HSV2), I called back and asked my doctor which type I had contracted. She said that it was obviously HSV2 because it was located genitally. She didn't know that although Type1 prefers the mouth/face and Type 2 prefers the genitals, each can occur in either location. I called the lab for answers. Unfortunately the culture was not "type specific".

My Story: I contracted from my boyfriend of 3 years. He is/was/always has been asymptomatic. He had no idea he carried the virus. A few days after we had been together, I began to experience genital pain. Although we had never been rough with eachother, I remember feeling bruised...like someone had hit me with a sledge hammer. The muscles in my upper legs and lower back ached. I had a constant headache and a low grade fever. The glands in my groin area were swollen and I was exhausted and weak. I thought I was coming down with the flu. A couple of days later, the itching and burning started. That's when I decided to check myself out and discovered the lesions. There were only a couple at first, but that was all I needed to see. I called the doctor and got an appointment the same day. When I got the diagnosis, I was scared to death...and very confused. I felt like I couldn't breathe. It just didn't make sense. My boyfriend and I had been in an exclusive relationship for several years. He showed no signs of the virus (not even a cold sore) in all that time. This just couldn't be Herpes...but it was. The primary OB lasted two weeks.

The Conversation: I have not yet been faced with having to tell a potential partner about my HSV status. But I did have to tell my boyfriend. Up until the actual diagnosis, we had figured that I probably just had some kind of infection or weird flu. We really thought that a course of antibiotics or prescription cream would take care of the problem. When I called him on the phone, he knew something was really wrong. We met for dinner. I brought some literature that I had downloaded off of the internet. I was terrified that he would accuse me of cheating on him...something I had definitely NOT done. But since he was asymptomatic, I wasn't sure he would believe that he was a carrier. Thankfully, the thought never entered his mind! He was confused at first..shocked is more like it! I explained that 20% of the population have the virus and most don't even know it. He probably contracted it years ago. That it probably took this long for me to be infected because we had always used condoms anyway. But obviously there are no guarantees even with safe sex. I was very careful to avoid sounding as if I was accusing him of anything. And he was very concerned about my health. He is still struggling with the fact that not only did he somehow cause me harm, but also the realization that he carries this virus as well. He felt, and still feels to some extent, that he has ruined my life. I think he wants to "fix it" (a "guy thing", I think!) and is realizing that this can't be fixed...it needs to be dealt with...together. We are still trying to come to terms with it all. I don't know how it will work out between us. Only time will tell what impact Herpes will have on me physically and our relationship in general. I honestly believe that as long as we can keep talking to eachother...we'll work it out.