I recently had protected sex with a new partner whom I didn’t really know too well. Well, not at all. I had all the STI tests, but would like to be tested for herpes. I was told by my doctor that such a test doesn’t exist. He informed me I would have to wait for sores to appear, and that they would be tested (taking from months to years, provided I have it). I have a partner right now, and I would like to know if I have it so I don’t infect them too. Is there such a test? If so, how can I go about getting it?
Any information you could provide would be appreciated.
Thanks for your question! It sounds like you’re feeling anxious and concerned about your sexual health, and protecting your partner.
Unfortunately, what your doctor is saying is true – there isn’t a definitive way to test for herpes without sores present. There is a blood test that detects HSV (herpes) antibodies, but the test isn’t that useful because it can’t tell you where on your body you have herpes. There are lots of different strains, and many strains have different niches – some dig the mucous membranes in your junk, others prefer the ones around your eyes, and others still prefer to set up shop in your mouth.
HSV-2 (genital herpes) can be spread from skin-to-skin contact, and the virus can hang out anywhere from your mid-thigh to your belly button. As you mentioned, lots of folks who have HSV-2 are asymptomatic – so the risk of being exposed to HSC-2 is pretty high to begin with.
In short, pretty much anyone who’s had sex (whatever you define as sex) with anyone, ever, has a strong probability of being exposed to HSV-2 and other easily transmissible STIs, like HPV (genital warts). But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect yourself! Based on what you’ve shared, it sounds like you’re doing a great job already.
You mentioned using protecting during this sexual experience, and you got tested afterwards. It also sounds like you’re concerned about protecting your partner, and I just want to take a moment to tell you how AWESOME that is!
Here are some strategies that may help to protect you and your partner’s sexual well-being in the future:
- Use condoms (internal or external) for any kind of penetrative sex, including but not limited to, using fingers, sex toys, or a penis to penetrate a vagina, an ass, or a mouth (this includes blow jobs)
- Use barriers such as a dental dam for any kind of oral-genital contact such as oral-anal or oral-vaginal sex
- Continue to get tested every 3-6 months
- Talk candidly with your partners about your past experiences – encourage them to do likewise! Agree to set aside shame and judgment so that you can both feel more informed and better prepared to take appropriate precautions
- Make an effort to discuss what kind of protection you will both use before engaging in sexual activity
- Always get, and give enthusiastic and informed consent!
But where can I get tested?
- If you’re a student at U of G, you can get tested at Student Health Services in the JT Powell Building, near the Athletic Centre. Their space is wheelchair and scooter accessible.
- If you’re not a student, get tested at either of these accessible locations:
AIDS Committee of Guelph
Unit 115 -89 Dawson Road
Hours: Wednesday from 1:30-3:30
Phone: (519) 763-2255.
Guelph Public Health
20 Shelldale Crescent
Hours: Mondays and Fridays 10:00am – 4:00pm, and Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:00am – 6:30pm. This clinic is closed on Wednesdays
Phone: (519) 846-2715 ext. 4677
Note: You must call for an appointment!
If you’d like to talk about this more, you can always give us a call or try us out online, we’d be happy to help you think of ways to start a conversation about safer sex.
We’re open on Mondays, 3:30-6pm, Wednesdays from 6-9pm, and Fridays, from 1-3pm.