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worriedaboutstd's avatar

How could I have caught an std (herpes) if not from sex?

Asked by worriedaboutstd (35points) January 4th, 2011

I’m trying to figure out some things while I wait for test results to come back (see my last post for more details). In short the doctor didn’t know if it was an std or just an infection or what std it might be. The red marks are clearing up, but he gave me two medications (one for bacterial infections, one to treat viral infections), and I have been applying polysporin, so I have no idea what is making them clear up.

Anyways, I’m trying to figure out HOW I could have caught an std, herpes specifically. I was tested myself a while back, and since then I’ve only been with a few girls. I have never had any outbreak similar to this in my life. I have contacted each of the girls since this started, and all claim to have been tested shortly before or shortly after having been with me and come back clean. They also all claim to have never had a Herpes outbreak. Also, Herpes first outbreaks apparently come within a few weeks to a month or so after initial exposure… So the girls would have had one by now and know, and it narrows the window down to just my current g/f (whom has never had an outbreak).

The only connection with Herpes I can find, is that my current g/f’s former room mate (of about a year, roughly 6 months ago) had it. But the two never had any kind of sexual contact or anything like that. My g/f is freaking out that maybe she caught it from her room mate somehow (like the whole, getting pregnant by sitting on a toilet with seamen concept). Is something like that possible?

Lets assume for the moment that the girls I’ve been with aren’t lying to me, they’ve all been tested and all came back clean. How else could I have caught it (if in fact it does end up being that)?

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13 Answers

iamthemob's avatar

You could have caught herpes at any point at all. I’m not really sure about transmission of the genital form, but I’m pretty sure that it requires some form of sexual contact. The thing is – it could have been your first sexual contact and anything inbetween, and it’s possible the person who gave it to you wouldn’t even know they had it now.

The problem with herpes tests from what I know is that they’re not terribly accurate unless you’re having an outbreak. Most of the accurate testing is done by taking a sample from a fresh sore. Considering that around half the U.S. adult population is estimated to have some form of herpes, blood test for antibodies without sores end up being kind of inaccurate.

Further, you can be a carrier and not really have an outbreak, have one outbreak and that’s it, etc. etc. – so technically you can have it and potentially spread it around for years and have no clue what’s going on.

Here’s the WebMD site on it. But y’all need to calm down – this isn’t one of those things that’s easily traceable so you’re probably not going to figure out what happened, and on the flip side it doesn’t mean anyone did anything while they were with someone or is lying about whether they tested clean or not. If you keep calling around and telling people in the course of trying to solve a mystery – well, you’re really just going to end up with a roomful of confused and angry people with herpes.

worriedaboutstd's avatar

@iamthemob The things I’ve read say that the initial outbreak will usually occur somewhere between two weeks and 6 weeks after initially being exposed to the virus. In RARE cases, it can be a few months later.

The virus can stay dormant in your body for years between outbreaks, but not for years prior to the FIRST outbreak.

JLeslie's avatar

Doctors would not test you for herpes unless you specifically asked for that blood screen or have an outbreak that can be cultured. Even if you said to a doctor check me for sexually transmitted diseases, they usually don’t check that.

Many people are serum positive (blood test) for herpes and have no knowledge of ever having an outbreak. Some people get cold sores on their mouths and don’t count it as sexually transmitted herpes, but can give it to a partner through oral sex.

Meanwhile, try not to worry. I think you said the area got bigger over a few days, I doubt it is herpes. Herpes outbreak would more likely develop at once, and not get bigger like other rashes. Don’t get me wrong, you do have to worry about not spreading herpes from one area of your body to another by touching it and then touching another part of your body, especially careful not to get it in your eye, but I think it is unlikely for it to spread during a current outbreak as you described. The only thing that gives me pause in your case was the swollen lymph nodes, which is common in herpes infection.

iamthemob's avatar

What @JLeslie said about the eyes is wicked important. And you’re right about the incubation – but most people may not notice the outbreak – as shown by @JLeslie‘s discussion of the “surprise results.”

worriedaboutstd's avatar

@JLeslie It did develop in one day, however it grew worse over the course of the day. Also none of the marks in in “clusters” as has been described as a common symptom. Most of them are not fluid filled (just a couple), and those that are fluid filled have typical whitehead puss. I have been washing my hands after any contact with the area so hopefully that will not be an issue….

@iamthemob I’m under the impression that the first outbreak is almost always the worst, so do some people simply not suffer bad outbreaks?

Also, the lymph node felt almost completely better by yesterday morning. I can push on it and anything now and it feels fine. I remember a few days ago (before noticing any of this) I was doing some sit ups while and I felt a pop in that area… thats when I first began to feel any pain in my lymph node. Until the marks appeared I assumed the pain was just related to having pulled a muscle or something in that area.

iamthemob's avatar

Outbreaks vary from person to person – the WebMD page covers pretty much everything you’d need to know initially.

If it ends up being herpes, it sucks, and it’s not curable – but it’s totally treatable, more common than we’d like to think, and although recurring isn’t wave after wave of symptomatic outbreaks in most situations. Just wait it out.

worriedaboutstd's avatar

@JLeslie Slightly. It wasn’t itchy at all the entire first day (Sunday), and yesterday it only got a LITTLE bit itchy in the afternoon. Today not really. Its never been like ITCHY ITCHY I HAVE TO SCRATCH THIS AND GET CREAM. Honestly for the most part I wouldn’t rate it any worse than regular itching required fore the area, lol.

JLeslie's avatar

@worriedaboutstd I’m going to stick with my guess that it is folliculitis, bacterial infection in the hair follicles. Whatever it is, I’m sure you will feel better soon :). If you continue to shave that area after you get it all healed, be sure to use a very sharp new razor, so you don’t tug on the skin, creating minor tears where bacteria can set in. Make sure the area is clean/washed don’t just grab a razor and shave. Let us know how it goes. I know it is stressful. Sex is a fucking nightmare sometimes.

iamthemob's avatar

From what I say in the pic (and come on man, seriously? We just met…;-)), I’m thinking along the lines of @JLeslie as well.

worriedaboutstd's avatar

Well tests for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes all came back negative. The red marks have completely subsided. No clue whatsoever what it was, just some other kind of infection I guess.

JLeslie's avatar

Great. :) so just be sure to shave with a sharp razor and use some hydrogen peroxide to prevent a skin infection.

Did they do a blood test for herpes or culture? If it was just a culture, if it reoccurs again when you are not shaving, have it cultured right away for herpes.

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