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It is possible to get the same herpes simplex virus (HSV) type in a different location, but it is not common for this to happen. For example if someone has cold sores which is typically HSV type 1 it is not common to get HSV type 1 in a different location, like on the genitals from receiving oral sex. I have only seen this happen a few times while working at the clinic.
It would still be possible to pass HSV 2 to your genitals while having genital sex. If the person was not having an outbreak and on daily suppressive therapy with an antiviral medication like valtrex the chance of this happening would be low from a onetime encounter.
HSV can be a difficult one to test for. The best HSV test is a swab taken from the sore as this will tell you what type of HSV it is and where it is. There are blood tests available that will tell you what type you have but these will not tell you where it is. For example blood test is positive for HSV type 1, does this mean it is on my mouth (cold sores), on my genitals or somewhere else. As most people don’t get symptoms when HSV is passed to them the blood test would be the only option to find out.
The other problem with the blood test is that it can take up to 4 months for the antibodies to show up so you would need to wait 4 months before doing a blood test. Also the test is expensive and at our clinics we are not able to run it as a screening test all the time.
This also brings up an entire different discussion about HSV and someone’s risk to it. You had sex with someone who knows they have HSV and have been able to reduce their chance of passing it on by not having sex while having an outbreak and taking daily antiviral medication. As HSV is very common and most people don’t know they have it your chance of getting HSV in this situation could be lower than if you had sex with someone else who said they were fine. Hope this makes sense.
You could see your family doctor about testing or come into one of our clinics and chat with one of our health professionals. We would be able to discuss your options around HSV testing.
Our clinics in the Vancouver area are
Provincial STI clinic
Bute street clinic
If you are not in the Vancouver area and need to find a clinic have a look at our clinic finder.
For additional information on HSV have a look at our HSV web page.
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This answer was posted on July 9, 2015