How Did I Get Herpes?

How does someone gets herpes and when….

If you or someone you know has recently recently received a herpes diagnosis, the news can be a huge pill to swallow.  The first reaction is generally a common one, which is the initial question of “How did I get herpes and from whom?”

The truth is that herpes is a contagious sexually transmitted disease  and that many are not aware of the ways one can get herpes.  For example, most are unaware that one can develop this simply from contacting skin with another individual’s skin that is infected with it.  The majority of people who suffer from herpes do not even know they have it.  Some suffer from the most obvious symptoms of the disease which are sores or open wounds that usually develop around the genitals.  Others experience pain or soreness in these areas which can be the symptom that alarms them to have it checked by their doctor.  It is generally an ailment that begins just a few weeks after the sexual contact with the infected individual.  Once infected, that person can suffer from it for weeks to come, with some cases lasting months.

Some cases do not experience symptoms in an alarming manner and many people only suffer from their herpes on rare occasions.  Others can be affected by it on a daily basis or one week here or there.

The pending issue for most once they become aware of their condition is trying to track exactly where it came from.  This can be an impossible task if they have been sexually active with several partners or never got a herpes diagnosis prior to infection.  Each partner they were with would have to undergo a blood screening before the elimination process could even begin.  It will be almost impossible to get a clear idea who you got herpes from if you had several sexual partners prior to infection.

The only situation where you can be almost certain that you got herpes from your partner is when you had a negative blood test result before having sex with your partner, never had sex with anyone else after the blood test and test positive either in a PCR test or a blood test later on. When I say almost certain because there is a tiny possibility of a false negative result which occurs from 1% to 6% of the time in the best tests.

There is also the possibility that you got the first blood test too early. If you had sex with another partner 1 to 8 weeks before taking the blood test then there may be a doubt you got herpes from the first partner and not the new person. If you got herpes less than 6 weeks ago, it will not show up in a blood screening.  However a PCR screening or “polymerase chain reaction” test will show a herpes infection before the 6 week period.

A negative history of herpes or having no symptoms does not prove you were not infected before. A positive PCR test only shows that you have an active infection. It does not necessarily prove that you did not have herpes prior to that infection. You could request a blood test at the same time and if the result negative, then it becomes quite certain you just got herpes from your new partner. PCR tests return a lot of false negative and can be performed only when symptoms are present. Sometimes people do not experience symptoms at first so getting to know who gave you herpes is not easy.

In other words,

negative blood test + positive PCR test = Proof you got herpes recently

positive blood test + positive PCR test = Proof you had herpes for more than 6 weeks ago

There are other ways to get herpes but they usually account for less than 10% of all cases combined.  For example, one can get herpes  just from sharing the same towels or  undergarments or seating on wet toilet seats,  a glass, lipstick… Nonetheless genital herpes is often transmitted from sexual contact and oral herpes from a kiss.

If you got herpes in under six weeks, it will not show up in a blood screening.  If you consult with your physician they may recommend a PCR screening or “polymerase chain reaction” test as soon as you get blisters.
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2 Responses to How Did I Get Herpes?

  1. It’s really a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

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