ZocdocAnswersWhat is the risk of a male contracting HSV-2 from an asymptomatic infected female?

Question

What is the risk of a male contracting HSV-2 from an asymptomatic infected female?

I've read that viral shedding rates occur on roughly 9 (asymptomatic) - 16 %(symptomatic) of any given day; but what is the mechanism of transfer (and barriers) from female to male and what is the risk of a male contracting HSV-2 on an asymptomatic shedding day (both with and without a condom)? Thanks for any response or direction to more resources about this type of research.

Answer

The risk of transfer of HSV-2 from an infected person to not infected person is very hard to predict as it depends on many factors that are specific to you and your partner. I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with her primary care physician to discuss this further. You are correct in that an asymptomatic individual is less likely to transmit the virus to an uninfected person than an symptomatic person. I am not sure those numbers that you provided are accurate. I think that the chances of transfer in an asymptomatic person is less than 9%. I don't know what the rate of transfer is for a symptomatic person. The mechanism of transfers skin to skin contact but the virus must get into or under the skin in someway. This occurs through Frank sore or brake in the skin or microscopic breaks in the skin. Using a condom will greatly reduce your chances of getting infected, but it won't reduce the chances to zero. One other method that can be used to help prevent transmission is if the infected person uses the medication acyclovir or Valacyclovir while they are sexually active. This helps to reduce the frequency of transmission and also helps to reduce transmission to their partners. For this problem, I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with her primary care physician who can further instruct you on how to reduce the likelihood of you obtaining HSV-2 from one of your partners.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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