What to do when your new boyfriend or girlfriend tells you that they have herpes.
So you’ve met this really great person, the chemistry is just right – they have a great personality, it seems like this person was custom made just for you. Out of nowhere that person starts to act a little distant and tells you that there is a need for “the talk”. Things have been going so well that you can’t figure out what you could possibly need to “talk” about. Over dinner the person drops a major bomb on you; “Honey, I have genital herpes”, and just like that you feel like your entire world may come crashing down.
The truth is, this conversation happens hundreds of times every single day.There are millions of people infected with herpes types 1 and 2, and whether they have the type that shows up on their mouths, or the one that shows up on their privates – it is equally contagious and can be transmitted to either part of the body. The medical industry estimates that nearly 80% of those infected with herpes don’t know it. So before you spazz out on your guy or girl, ask yourself, “Do I have herpes as well?”
Herpes sounds like a really scary disease to have, and while I’m not suggesting that you take it lightly – of all the sexually transmitted diseases, it has the least damaging long term impact. Did you know that routine STD tests DO NOT screen for herpes? Many in the medical industry say they don’t bother to test for it specifically because so many people have it, that it’s a lot more common than one may think. Some doctors even refer to it as a “dermatological annoyance… nothing serious”. Now that isn’t said to dress it up so that you may disregard it or think that it isn’t really a big deal, but the demonetization of herpes has made the condition overblown.
So what should you do if you find out that the person your dating has herpes? Here are a few things to consider:
1. Can you see a long term relationship with this person despite the herpes? Because herpes is not a life threatening condition there should be no fear of death or anything like that. He or she is the same person that you were falling in love with yesterday as they are today. Herpes is not an indication of a promiscuous lifestyle, so just because they have herpes doesn’t mean that they sleep around with everyone. Did you know that herpes can be transmitted even when using a condom? I bet you didn’t!
2. The chances of passing herpes to a partner decreases by 73% when a person takes daily suppressive medications, the most popular being Valtrex. The use of condoms combined with daily medication decreases the chance of infection by 98%
3. The longer a person has herpes, the more infrequent the outbreaks are. The first year of a herpes infection is also the most active year, most people will experience an outbreak every three to four months. However as time passes the body develops an immunity to the virus meaning the outbreaks occur less and less. Many people who have the virus report having fewer than one outbreak per year after the first 5 years.
There is life after a herpes diagnosis or discussion, and although it is contagious, it does not have to be the end of the world. If you can honestly see yourself with this person one, two or even five years down the line – don’t rob yourself of that love and happiness. Herpes transmission can be avoided with mutual respect and communication.