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Chances of having genital herpes without a visible outbreak or cold sores

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Hello doctor, I am a 19 years old lady, and I used to have unprotected sex with my boyfriend, as he told that he has not got any sexually transmitted diseases. But his ex-girlfriend is one of my friends and she stays with me. She was with him for about a full year and used to have sex with him. Recently, to be exact 2 weeks ago, it happened so that she got a flare up. She went to the hospital for that and her doctor diagnosed that she has got herpes. But it was not clear that for how long she had the infection. Can herpes stay in her for a long without any flare up? How long will it take for spreading herpes, once it is got infected? My boyfriend was with her for the last 7 years and she is 45 years old. My boyfriend is 40 years old and he hasn’t got any outbreak yet. Is it possible for herpes to stay without spreading? With fear, I went to test for infection and fortunately it turned out that I am HSV negative. We have been having no problem with HSV or similar infections till now. Can I get infected later as virus may stay without getting noticed in my body? I am afraid of getting infected. Can it be so, that she got the infection from someone else? Please help.


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Category: Family Physician-GP
Dr. John Monheit is online now

Expert:  Dr. John Monheit replied 4 Days.

Thanks for your question and concern. It is possible for herpes virus to stay dormant for years in human body, without making a visible outbreak. Outbreaks can be seen once favorable situations come. Once favorable situations come, outbreaks can occur in the form of cold sores, fever blisters or flare ups. Blood tests are not reliable if one with infection has not had any outbreaks till date. With outbreaks like cold sores, we can confirm the presence of virus. If your boyfriend used to have unprotected sex with his ex-girlfriend for years, there is a good chance that he might have got infected and thereby, you also can get affected. But test results may show negative, if there are no visible sores or blisters are seen. There is a chance of not getting affected, if his ex-girlfriend has got the infection recently and you boyfriend hasn’t had sex with her after that. The only way to prevent infection is to have only protected sex with partners. Also, consider testing for herpes frequently, for a year or two, if you are not getting any visible outbreak. However, there are no medications found till now, to treat genital herpes of any type. But cold sores and herpes are treated symptomatically. Hope your query is answered well. Take care.


Dr. John Monheit
Category: Family Physician-GP
Experience: 
Residecny: North Colorado Family Medicine
Medical School: The Chicago Medical Center
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