By Barbara Parker, RN, ARNP, CNM
Q. I've just been diagnosed with herpes. I wanted to know if I should ask for a retest because I have been with the same man for three years and neither one of us has had this before?
A. You can ask to be retested if you want, but if there are no active sores, there won't be anything to test. Herpes is a viral infection that is treatable, and very manageable, but not curable. Once you have the virus in your system, it stays there forever. You may have this one outbreak of herpes, and never ever see it again, or it may bother you everyday.
Since the virus can "hide" in your body for YEARS, you cannot be sure WHEN you got it. It is also possible to get it from having oral/genital sex with someone who has a cold sore.
The important thing is that now you know what it is, and you can manage it! If you can feel a burn or tingling sensation before a sore breaks out, begin taking anti-viral medication, such as Valtrex, Famvir or Acyclovir as soon as you can. If you have frequent outbreaks, taking 500-1000 mg of L-Lysine, a nutritional supplement, is often very effective in preventing outbreaks.
Go back to your health care provider and ask for more information so that you can understand what it is a little better. I have just given you the "bare bones" information.