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Telling... I DON'T WANT TO...

Guest Anonymous

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Guest Anonymous

I was diagnosed with herpes two years ago--on Valentine's Day. My doctor was dismissive and told me casually and cheerfully that the painful lesions on my genitals were, "Yep, that's herpes," as if she were telling me I had gold bars coming out of my vagina. I was left in her office to cry alone before she returned, handed me a couple of pamphlets and let me see myself out.

My now-ex and I were in what I believed to be a committed, long-term monogamous relationship. I am well educated about STDs at almost 30 had had only a handful of partners, all of whom I'd been protected with. I was broken to discover that while my wild, promiscuous girlfriends were catching no more than crabs, I'd been a "good girl" my whole life and got herpes.

I've got the whole stigma going on--I'm considered very attractive, I'm extremely well educated, professional, talented... and now I'm infected with a disease I spent my whole life being very careful to avoid, along with the others. It seems like a cruel joke, but it is what it is.

I've been single and abstinent for the two years since my ex. Every Valentine's Day, or VD as I think of it, I think about being diagnosed. I see people on elevators, the street, at work... and wonder if they have what I have. Men hit on me and I wonder if they'd think I was so attractive if they knew I had herpes. On one hand, it's a skin disease, minor, annoying, no biggie. On the other, everyone is terrified of it because of the enormous stigma that surrounds it.

Over the last two years, it's been easy to live with it--because I don't have to address it. I seem to be in a constant state of breakout, with almost chronic anal burning--but never really anything around the genitals. I was not tested for the disease, just visually diagnosed. What made this even worse was when I told my doctor I was repeatedly and regularly tested for STDs and was informed that herpes testing is not part of a routine screen--you must request it if you think you've been exposed. So essentially there's no way to be protected from this disease, because they don't even look for it. Too expensive. Epidemic? Nah. Commercial boon for drug companies. There's no money in a cure. And I read somewhere that the general population isn't tested because there is fear that people will "panic." Brilliant.

I am grappling with a dilemma. I have always behaved in ways that are honest, morally sound, decent. I never want to do to someone what was done to me, never want to be responsible for transmitting herpes to another person. But I can still barely relate to this being a part of my life. I find myself wondering if I HAVE to talk about this disease. I am terrified to. As much as I know about STDs--more than many--when it comes down to dealing with it myself, I resent losing my right to privacy, but feel that others have the right to know. But sex is a gamble and many people have this disease who don't know it. If I'm taking care of myself, suppressing outbreaks, on medications and insistent about condoms... I want to NOT TALK ABOUT THIS. I have shared with my family and friends, but I fear telling potential partners, not so much because they may reject me, but because they may reject me and THEN tell others why. This is a desperately private matter. I don't want to be deceitful. I also don't want to have to discuss herpes.

I think of all the times I've been intimate with someone... only once has a man ever told me he had herpes, and that was about year after my diagnosis. It was fabulous to hear--altho we never slept together, I respected him. And I wondered how many other men, like my ex, never bothered to tell, or to wonder what the bumps are, or to care. None of my girlfriends has ever been told by someone that he had herpes. The man who disclosed to me was shocked that I also shared with him; he asked if I'd have told him had he not told me; at the time, yes I would have. He wasn't sure he believed me because he was so surprised. Yet so many of us carry this disease. Secrecy, privacy, even blatant deceit must be rampant.

I don't want to do that. I don't want to talk about this either. I want to be careful, with others and with myself. At first I was certain I'd disclose and it would be only once relationships had grown serious so that sex was an option. Suddenly I find myself wondering if there's some way to not to--if I take care of myself. I have not seen my gynecologist since my diagnosis because of how badly I was treated by both her and another physician I saw shortly after her to discuss the matter. I made an appointment today because I'm tired of being irrational about something immutable and unchanging and really, quite simple.

Please don't misinterpret me; I'm hardly off tomorrow to take 10 lovers and transmit freely--not at ALL. I'm just grappling with what's right, wrong and even what's possible. I plan to discuss this with my doctor--and to get some sort of test to even determine for sure that I have this, because I need it for my peace of mind. I want to do what's right, and I also want to do what's reasonable--for me and any future partners.

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Yes. having the test for herpes and knowing the fact is always a good idea.

Just... don't get caught up with an image or an idea about herpes. There are so many kinds of values and view points, and there is no absolute right or wrong.

Telling someone that you have herpes is, nothing but being honest with your partner and yourself, and giving enough information for the partner to take care of himself. That's all....

Once you actually make a step forward, you'll see things that you can't see from where you stand right now. I am so sure that you'll smile and be relieved once you see the view. <smile>

Best wishes..


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You sound like a thoughtful and caring person.

If you find out for sure through your tests that you do have herpes it seems like you are ready to deal with it the best you can which is more than some people are ever able to do. Don't lose the good attitude.

Open and Honest. The best way. If you ever feel like you want to have sex with somebody, please tell them before hand so they have the option, as well as yourself, to move forward. When you bring it out in the open, it will make both of you think about what is about to happen and will show you both how serious your feelings are toward each other.

Herpes can be degrading, embarassing and emotionaly draining, IF you let it.

Its all up to you on how you present it to people. If they care, they will stay. If they don't, they will leave. At least you will know upfront.

If there is enough love, herpes can't kill the relationship and it won't kill you, either.

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Totally Understand


Welcome and sorry to meet you under these conditions...you do sound like a very nice, intelligent person. Everything you say I have thought to myself, too. When I had no ob's for a number of years, I nearly talked myself into the idea that I didn't have to tell anybody about it. Chances were, everything would be ok. A friend of mine who has it talked me out of the idea and I'm really glad he did.

I just had to tell the man I am getting involved with and it was one of the hardest things I've had to do. Herpes itself for me isn't a big drag. It's the other stuff, the perceptions people seem to have about it, the telling somebody while knowing that chancees are, they hold the same dirty perception of the virus. It's wondering what they'll do, if they'll bolt, how it might affect the relationship if they stay. It's (me too) realizing by passing comments that some of my more promiscous friends don't have it and wondering "why me?"

My experience telling my current boyfriend so far has brought us closer together. He didn't bolt, he praised me for being so brave and empathized with how hard it must be. While we have some logistical issues to think about with one of us having HSV, it really didn't change anything, other than increasing the trust and confirming the level of honesty and commitment in the relationship.

It can go another way, though. Any number of other ways. I had to prepare myself for whatever he would say, and be at peace with the concept that in disclosing this to him, I was taking care of my side of the street, ethically. The way I decided that this was ethically the right thing to do was by asking myself what I would hope that he would do for me were the shoes on the other foot. That's a good litmus test for this confusing topic in general, for me.

One interesting thing I didn't expect, though I should have, given that I tend to be prone to guilt and worry. Even though I told him ahead of time and he dove in willingly, after we were intimate a few times I became gripped with fear that I had given it to him. It's been a few weeks since we were last together and it doesn't look like I have, but the guilt and fear was something for which I was unprepared. I learned from that that, even though he may be ready to take this on, I need to consider whether I am emotionally prepared for the possibility of him contracting it. This is why so many people say that they have learned a lot having to live with the virus and even go so far as gratitude at having it. It's not necessary to have HSV to honestly appraise my own emotions, but it's impossible to be a consciencious person with HSV and not. So that's something to think about if you consider having sex and not telling...how will YOU feel? How will that affect YOU down the line? May sound like a selfish way of looking at it, but you are half of this equation and need to take care of your heart and soul, too.

A happy by-product of having HSV for me is that instead of my usual pattern of getting in deep too soon with a man, since I contracted HSV I've dated/gotten to know a lot of different men, keeping it light. In more than one instance, not going to bed with any of them because I didn't want to have the talk saved me from getting stuck in a protracted physical relationship that should have ended with coffee. After a few years of this, I have met this wonderful man who my (now more finely-tuned) heart told me is the one. Once that happened, everything kind of fell into place, including telling him about HSV.

Anyway, just wanted to relate my experience in case it helps. I know it has helped me a lot to learn about the thought processes other people go through in similar situations. Take care - Palomita

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Do I have to tell?

I kinda got the same question,it's been well over a month since my first--initial outbreak of 5 or 6 small ,painless pimple like soars on my dick.Everything feels good & normal.My question is if I have no soars & all feels ok am I still morally(legally?) obligated to disclose I had 1 episode(I pray no more) of herpes even if I am going to use a condom or is there an assumed risk that both partners should know when you engage in sex that you may get an std?I would certainly like a long term committed relationship but until I find her I would still love to have sex sometime and feel if I tell any perspective partner about H she will run to the door!

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Guest Anonymous

here is my experience which relates to this issue. about 5 or 6 months after i got h i met this guy i was very attracted to. problem was i didn't really trust him and knew he was dating other girls, which was fine because i was dating others too. my old dating habits would have alowed me to hang out with him have some intimacy and see where things went, and if we were compatible it would have possible progressed into a relationship. well hello herpes. i kept waiting to see where things went, tried to get to know him, let him get to know me so i could gauge whether to tell him or how to. problem was this guy didnt really seem to want a girlfriend but he sure wanted to fool around. when my better judgement was present i stayed away from him, but sometimes myselfishness or inebreated state got a hold of me and i ended up hokng up with him a few times. i went through 6 months of hell. we couldnt communicate openly, i wanted to be with him but never felt right about it. i felt like a horrible person. he constantly felt rejected and couldnt figure out why i was so hot and cold, this made him insecure and me stressed out. eventually i could tell something was wrong with him. he would say things like "you know what im scared of, herpes, but luckily most people i know are honest about that" or "i had a really bad night last night, this girl i know came over and said some horrible things to me" and "my life has been good for so long, i know something bad is going to happen, im worried about my health". finally i knew i had to spill it. i called and said "id like to talk can i come over". you know what he said? "your not going to come over and tell me about some weird sore i gave you are you?" do you know what i think happened. I gave him herpes. he was sleeping with someone else and didnt know he had it and gave it to someone else. two lives ive messed up . i have to live with this for the rest of my life. he is a gorgeous, amazing, talented successful man who is now devestated not only by having this but also knowing he gave it to someone else. that night he freaked out and never answered my calls to make plans to come over. the next day he told me he couldnt take any more stress over relationships and broke it off completly. we had a whole relationship for six months, never being honest, feeling insecure, vulnerable. we never had the oportunity to even start a relationship. i dont even know if he knows he got it from me. we never really talked about it after all that time. just guessing and worrying and feeling alone and rejected. i had six months worth of opportunities to tell him and when i was finally ready to talk about it it was to late. now he is gone to me. and i have to live with the fact that he is hurting and alone and that i gave him an incurable std. it was an exausting disheartening experience and i will never put myself or anyone through this again. i believe in karma and i know that until i do the right thing in reationships i will be alone. please dont make this mistake too.

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Guest Anonymous

I can totally understand everything you wrote, from how that could have happened to how you feel about it. One thing to consider, though, as rampant as HSV is, is that you can never be sure whether or not you gave it to him. I know the timing makes it seem so, but you just cannot know. If he didn't have ob's he could have had it before you and not known, too. Remember that like 80% of those who have it don't know they have it.

Trust me, I know how much the guilt sucks. Just thinking I may have given it to someone (even after disclosing I had it first) made me physically ill for several weeks. The good news is you have gotten in better touch with your conscience, and have a powerful message for others. Also, you never know in the long run how this may have altered his life. To say that something is inherently "bad" or "good" is short sighted and neglects the variables of how people react to what life presents...some things can be blessings in disguise.

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    • CHT
      Hi "Jeremy"..... I agree, the topic of your HSV status does not need to be something you disclose too soon in a developing relationship..... get to know each other first....see how it's going and as it progresses, then the HSV issue will naturally need to be revealed.... it's my personal opinion though that before there is any sexual encounter you ought to disclose your HSV status.... I know some will disagree with me on this but, I think it is morally wrong not to disclose first.  This can be a make/break situation for most people but, again, I feel it is simply wrong not to give the other person the whole story since your decision not to disclose could put their health at risk.... that is simply not an option in my opinion.  Looking back to my "pre-HSV" life I most certainly would want my partner to disclose their HSV+ status before intimacy so that I could make my decision as to whether I want to take that risk or not.... 
    • Jeremy Spokein
      Thanks, CHT. I appreciate the feedback. The whole trauma of going through this has led me to figure out a lot about myself and my attachment wounds, so I'm taking courses to come out of this better. This girl really was my dream woman in so many ways, it's been the hardest heartbreak to deal with ever. I'm truly in a lot of pain, but using the pain as fuel to launch that new business and work with coaches. I also opened up to my family about HSV, so my parents and sister know now, and they were very loving and accepting of it. Since opening up about it, I feel way better around this thing. After opening up, I also found out that some mutual friends in our family have discordant couples who are married with children, so HSV hasn't stopped them from living a loving life. The thing is... all of these couples I mention did not disclose until 6-8 months into the relationship. So now I'm thinking it might be better not to disclose until I know things are very serious. I'll of course stay on the medication and use protection, but maybe this is a better route than disclosing upfront and scaring women off.
    • WilsoInAus
      Hey @Lcj987 and welcome to the website. You can be sure that isn't HSV-2, looks nothing like it. It is much more likely to be folliculitis or inflamed fordyce spots.
    • WilsoInAus
      Hey @JackThrowAway herpes causes an outbreak where it enters the body first and maybe a progressive spread. If it doesn't cause an outbreak at the entry site then it won't cause one elsewhere, it also won't 'jump' upon infection - it would be more likely that the lesions are continuous from the penis to the anus. Nevertheless, testing trumps symptoms or any interpretation of symptoms. The correct conclusive result arises when: you have a positive swab; or An IgG HSV-2 level over 3.5 (Herpeselect test).
    • Lcj987
      Slept with someone unprotected, roughly 2 weeks ago now. I felt generally unwell the couple of days after but I’d been drinking the whole weekend and didn’t have much sleep either of the days of that weekend so put it down to that. 6 days after I noticed these spots appear on the shaft of my penis. Along with symptoms of discomfort in my shaft in the couple of days prior to them appearing. No pain when urinating at all that I have noticed. They don’t hurt, itch or tingle and they don’t have fluid in from what I can see or feel if I squeeze them and have never burst? I went to a sexual health clinic to get checked up, they took bloods to do a full test and looked at the spots but said they saw nothing that concerned them but I’m not sure about that, any advice? The smaller spots under the shaft are just follicles I had diagnosed years ago and non-sti related.
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