Partner's last herpes episode was more than 3 years ago - Am I at risk?

Originally Published: September 19, 1997
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Dear Alice,

We have been practicing unsafe sex for three months and my loved one told me last weekend she had a bout of herpes more than 3 years ago. She believes to be safe since nothing occurred since. Is she?


Dear Not-so-sure,

Many couples have been able to have emotionally and sexually fulfilling relationships when one of the partners has herpes. Given that your loved one has not had a herpes episode in over three years, you may decide that unprotected sex for the two of you is an acceptable risk. Clearly, there are no guarantees.

You may be relatively safe from herpes in this case; however, you are not protecting yourself, or your loved one, from other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), if either of you are infected. Safer sex is something you might think about the next time you have sex with your partner.

For more information, read, Herpes simplex 2, What is viral shedding?, and Testing for herpes and genital warts; or, search through Alice's Sexual Health archive for numerous questions and answers on herpes. You can also check out the following hotlines and websites:

National Herpes Hotline

CDC National STD Hotline

American Social Health Association Website (Herpes Resource Center)