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Ask Dr. K

I tested positive for herpes. Is it possible that my boyfriend of 3-1/2 years could have carried it from before we got together and only recently infected me? Or is it possible I could have carried the virus for a period of time without knowing it? I trust my boyfriend and want to give him the benefit of the doubt here. While I'm not all that experienced, my boyfriend has had many partners before me. I know this sounds stupid, but I told him the only way we're going to stay together is if we both take a lie detector test. What do you think?

A lie detector test isn't necessary. The tricky thing with STDs is that many, many times they are asymptomatic - that means, there are no symptoms. About one in five adults in the United States has genital herpes; however, as many as 90% of these infected people don't know they have the virus. If a person does have symptoms, they could show up anywhere from days after contracting it, to weeks, months or years. So you see, it may be difficult, if not impossible to tell who had the herpes virus in their body first.

The best thing you and your boyfriend can do is take a step back and breathe. Learn all you can about herpes so you can talk about it without blaming each other. For more information about herpes, click here. And you and he may want to consider letting your other sexual partners know they may have been exposed. There is a new, easy way to do this online at

To your health,
Dr. K

Last modified on Wednesday, November 18, 2009.
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