Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Why test at all?
In a long term monagamous relationship, the information is FYI. Do with it what you will . Most patients are, after the shock, happy to know that they are seropositive for herpes and can possibly transmit. It opens the conversation for both partners to be tested. It is an awful thing to have a woman come in with a primary infection from an asymptomatic partner who has shed virus, and transmitted disease. She rarely believes that this is "innocent", and faith in the relationship is shaken.
The US Preventative Health Task Force does not advocate for routine testing for herpes virus status. I personally think that if the 80 % of people who did not know they were positive, knew, this perhaps could be better controlled. Many people recognize the infection as one they get regularly, but did not know was herpes. Safe sex practices are nice to dictate, but irregularly followed. Knowledge is power.
I work closely with seropositive patients to remove shame and guilt, and help them find a way to break the cycle of silent transmission. Even though you are monogamous, it may be that in the end it is serial monogamy that proves to be the culprit. As I mentioned before, herpes spends most of its time as a dormant infection. It is a real bummer when it pops up unexpectedly. Most patients who say to me, " but last year I asked my doctor to test for everything" find out that they did not, test for herpes and ask me why not.