Tag Archives: HERPES

WHAT IF…

A few years ago, I found my first herpes support group on Facebook, and on the façade, it seemed very supportive. Messages of “Keep your head up!” Be strong, you’ll find someone!” and “It wasn’t meant to be.” seemed to flood the daily feed. Even though I knew I wasn’t the only person living with herpes, it was great to finally see and hear other people’s stories. The overall morale of the chats was positive and uplifting, which for a newly diagnosed individual can be essential. However, every so often, I would come across a post asking for advice and support.   

I feel terrible, and I need your advice. Last week, I was drinking, partying, smoking (whatever) with my friend. Things got out of control, we had sex, and I forgot to tell them about my herpes status. I feel terrible, and I want to tell them, I just don’t know how to.  

It didn’t take long for me to realize that once the comments have been disabled, it was safe to assume that the poster was virtually attacked. Similar posts often bring out, what I like to call, The Bully-Brigade. The Bully-Brigade is the barrage of people that come together to virtually bully anyone whose actions and views don’t align with theirs. With comments like, “You’re a terrible person.” “How could you forget…” and “People like you should be locked up!” — The Bully-Brigade has struck again.  

The comments and attacks vary, but the one that sticks out the most is the one of blame. It’s the person that says, “You know, many of us wouldn’t be here if our partner had told us. If my partner had told me that they had herpes, I never have had sex with them. You should’ve given them a choice.”   

This one always bugs me, because they so conveniently forget that they, in fact, did have a choice. To have consensual sex, without knowing your partner’s sexual health status, was a choice. The power to control the sanctity of my body is my responsibility, and the same for your body. Do you not eat when you’re hungry, drink when you’re thirsty, or sleep when you’re tired? So, why when it comes to sex, is it only the other person’s responsibility to protect you? I don’t say this to point blame, I say this to take accountability.  

Think of your body as a new car you just bought. You wouldn’t give the keys for your new car to a person whose driving record you didn’t know and whose license you haven’t seen, would you? No! You wouldn’t! But if you did, and they crashed it, was it not your choice to hand your keys over to them, in the first place? We don’t take that risk with material things, but we assume that risk with our bodies every day. From the moment I laid eyes on my partner, once I know I want to have sex with him, the responsibility to ensure my sexual health is mine, and mine alone. It was my responsibility to make sure that he posed no threat to me, and the choice I made to not verify his status was, in fact, A CHOICE.   

Over the years, I learned to stop arguing with The Bully-Brigade; because they had already made up their mind that their positive diagnosis was someone else’s fault. What I try to do now is pose the question, what if…  

You say — “If they had told me they had herpes…” I pose the question — “What if you had asked…?”  

What if they told you they were clean, because the test they took didn’t include herpes? Therefore, they had no way of knowing they had the virus.   

What if they had the test that included herpes, but because they recently acquired the virus, the antibody test came back negative? (It took 9 months for my antibodies test to detect herpes).  

What if you had used condoms? (I used condoms when herpes was transmitted to me).  

What if they told you they had a history of cold sores? Marketing doesn’t make it clear that cold sores and herpes are the same virus. Many people don’t think that their cold sores are herpes or that they can impact their partner’s genital region. What if this information was made clear to the masses?  

What if doctors did a better job of educating patients before, during, and after their diagnosis? What if they pointed patients to support groups after their diagnosis, instead of giving them a prescription and sending them on their way?  

What if sex education was clear and transparent, and inclusive of all sexual behaviors, sexualities, and sexual health? What if consent and boundaries were mandated? What if the stigma was never able to exist because people were educated on the truth of all sexually transmissible and non-sexually transmissible viruses?  

What if testing were made easier for all to access? What if when I asked to be tested for everything, I was tested for EVERYTHING?  

What if we stopped shaming sex, sexuality, and people with STD/STIs?  

What if you’re herpes positive, you disclose to your partner, but you don’t ask to see their results in return? (Is that not, once again, handing someone the keys to your car without checking their license, all-over again?)  

What if asking about a person’s sexual health was as easy as saying hi? What if asking to see a person’s test results (and getting them), was as easy and pleasurable as having sex?  

What if they never assaulted me?  

What if the dad, the aunt, the uncle didn’t kiss the toddler, and pass them the herpes virus?  

What if the mother didn’t kiss her child and pass them the herpes virus?  

What if you had waited another 3-9 months to get re-tested before having sex?   

What if you had waited to go and get tested together?  

What if you had asked your partner their sexual health status?  

While the what-ifs are endless, none of them can guarantee that you still wouldn’t have ended up with herpes virus. With all the precautions that you could’ve taken in your adolescent or adult life, you still could’ve acquired the virus before ever taking your first steps. At the end of the day, we’re all here. So, instead of focusing on what if, focus on the future. A lot of why we feel what we feel is stigma. So, instead of trying to change others, maybe we can change our perception. And with that, we can change the stigma. 

IF ONLY IT WERE THAT SIMPLE (PART 2)

Joke: If you google random symptoms, all roads will lead to cancer. If you have sex, all roads will lead to herpes; it’s almost inevitable. 

5-Lastly, PEOPLE LOVE SEX! And the general public’s unwillingness to change their sexual habits is the leading reason people continue to get STD/Is. 

Take HIV for example; HIV, unlike herpes (HSV), is a fluid transmissible virus (passed via blood, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, and in rare specific* cases saliva). The virus has to enter the person’s blood stream in order to replicate. The most common and effective way to minimize their chances of getting HIV, are to simply use condoms/barriers and test your partners before having sex (before Prep and Pep, etc). Seems simple enough right… WRONG!!!! 

The truth of the matter is; many people don’t use condoms. For whatever reasons people give: they’re too tight, they feel uncomfortable, allergic, or they lose sensations, etc. It all balls (pun intended) down to people don’t want to use them. I’ve had plenty of partners throughout the years (before and after herpes) that will get annoyed with me when I stop and tell them to get a condom. When it comes to the topic of getting tested; I remember asking men and they’re response was “Why?  You think I got something?” or “Don’t worry, I’m clean”; without even being able to tell me when was the last time they actually went to the doctor.  So, when you consider the reality that the use of condoms can minimize the spread of HIV; and people still don’t want to use them; that’s proof that people would much rather live in the moment and worry about the possible consequences later. And, for what it’s worth- there is nothing wrong with that. If you want to live a sexually empowered life, then do it. But, in this era of sex positivity, the conversation of sexual health is often not had.

The above (5) examples play a major role in the spread of herpes. I find it highly imbalanced to only focus on people not disclosing as the main reason this virus spreads.  

Truth Serum: I can tell a man that I have herpes and educate him on all the possible ways of contraction; and that man may decline to be with me (which is totally fine). That same man, will still go out the following night and sleep with the next woman (who may not know she’s positive), and still end up with herpes.  

This little story, is just another one of the many reasons why I can’t get behind the attack of a single individual for not disclosing. Everyone that had consensual sex (myself included) could’ve taken extra steps; but we(I) didn’t. Even if I had taken the extra steps (as I lined out in Part 1), I still may have contracted herpes. But in my case, I looked at my partner, allowed my trust in him and my feelings for him to be all the proof that I needed. The use of my feelings, that allowed me to assume his words and actions, as proof of his sexual health, was in-fact a choice, MY CHOICE. This acceptance of choice is what allowed me to get rid of the anger and find peace with my diagnosis; and that allowed me to heal.  

Many of the toxic people I describe, and often debate with, hold onto that anger; and when someone even hints at not disclosing they go into attack mode; because (I believe) they’re still very angry. Some people choose to sit in the anger and dish it out rather than do the self-reflection and acknowledge the choices they made that landed them where they are. In the end it’s not about blame, it’s about choice. A choice that we had and made; a choice that, had we not contracted herpes as a result of it, we’d be proud to have made. Just because the end result was one that was not desired, that does not make the entire act any less of a choice. When we agreed to have sex, we all signed an invisible contract, without acknowledging the fine print.

So, getting on an invisible pedestal to degrade another person, just because their choices don’t align with yours, does not make you any better. At the end of the day; it takes two to tango, and each individual should be responsible for their own sexual health. We all should want to know our partner’s status; not just think and or assume it; but many people don’t ask. We all should get tested regularly, and be able to happily exchange results with our partners before we have sex; but many people don’t.  

The reality is, many people would rather not spoil the mood or miss the opportunity. Most people won’t even talk about sexual health before they have sex. And, many people would be very happy not knowing the truth. People want to continue living and loving as if nothing has changed; hoping for the best. 

It’s ok to encourage people to disclose by sharing your experiences. But to attack them, only puts people on defense and often times, they’ve already checked out of the conversation. Navigating this virus isn’t easy; we don’t have to make it any more difficult than it already is. 

It’s time to change the conversation on herpes and start being proactive about our sexual health. 

IF ONLY IT WERE THAT SIMPLE (Part 1)

With a constant rise in new cases of herpes diagnoses, more and more people are seeking support. When I was diagnosed, in 2009, there was only the internet. The internet at that time offered only information, and no support for someone that was newly diagnosed. Thankfully, I had family and random friends for support to get me through.  

Almost a decade later, there are now dating apps (Positive Sines), podcasts (Something Positive for Positive People), activists and the HANDS organization (Herpes Activists Networking to Dismantle Stigma), books (Asking for a Friend), in person support groups (Love Profound); and lastly, a whole host of Facebook & Reddit Subgroups. Many are filled with support and positive energy; and for a person struggling with the virus, these options will offer you the most peace of mind. 

When I was diagnosed, sites like Facebook and Reddit weren’t as popular, as they are now. Now, there are plenty of great support groups on Facebook and Reddit, but the problem with these groups (and the problem with the internet period) is that, more often than not, they are filled with toxic people. I joined to hear the stories and offer advice. I felt that my journey of dating while being herpes positive, would be able to help others. I was shocked to find that there was so much stigma, shame, and degrading of others within these, so called, support groups. So much so that, I sometimes look back and think… Thank God! I was diagnosed when I was! Because there is no guarantee my journey would’ve been so positive had the “support” been as negative as what I see in some of these groups now. 

There are many studies that show groups that are often degraded will, in an attempt to reclaim their power, degrade those within the same group. The act of putting others down, to elevate the other’s position is rife within the herpes community. No topic garners more hateful, degrading, shaming, and stigmatizing speech than the issue of disclosing. 

Now, before I jump into things let me make it very clear. If you know that you have an incurable virus that may forever impact the life of another human being, you should disclose (tell them). Full consent does require their full knowledge of the risks involved. There! It’s done! The spread of herpes will now be forever halted- Right… Not Even Close! 

In a perfect world, disclosing only works for those that know they have the virus, in the first place. If we walk away from Fantasy World, and get back to the real world; we’ll realize that there are many more factors that contribute to the spread and contraction of herpes. The herpes virus is a HUMAN virus. Sure, there may be strains that live in the animal kingdom; but we are talking about humans, humans that process the cognitive ability to think, process, and then act. I will not touch on acts of rape and/or assault, as the entire event was not a choice. I am specifically talking about two consenting individuals making the choice to have sexual relations. 

No matter how old you are, we all had some form of sexual education. I, for example, went to catholic school; so, the information I received was more abstinence based. But the message that sex could lead to disease and un-planned pregnancy was evident. Don’t have sex or this or that will happen. So, even if it wasn’t the most fully informed education, we all knew that sex carried some risks. When we chose to have sex; engaging in the act, was signing an invisible contract that assumed whatever risk may come our way.  

When I was diagnosed after being in a committed relationship, I was furious. I was hurt, shocked, heart-broken, and briefly depressed. For a moment I wanted to scour the internet to find him and call him out. However, I had to take a step back and realize the role I played in this. Sure, I asked him and he said he was “clean” and we used a condom. But there were other tools at my disposal that I negated to use. I could’ve asked to see his test; but I didn’t. I could’ve postponed having sex until we both got tested, and exchanged results; but I didn’t. Even if I had, there’s no guarantee that his test would’ve included herpes (as most don’t); and because of that; I would’ve seen his results, that were absent of herpes (assumed he was negative), still made the choice to have sex, and ended up with herpes.  

A lot more goes into minimizing the spread of herpes than just disclosing one has herpes. So, I can’t get behind this moral compass of blaming someone else for the choices that we all knew, on some level, carried some risk. They aren’t called Sexually Transmitted Diseases because you get them sharing a hug. You get them when engaging in an act of sex.  

Now, there are many individuals that have herpes passed to them from a family member via an act of affection, and not sex (almost always a kiss). More often than not, this is classified as cold sores (oral herpes), most often Type1. But these cold sores (oral herpes), that most people forget they even get, have the ability to be passed to another person’s mouth or genitals, and they will then have (Genital Herpes Type 1_GHSV1), adding to the number of newly diagnosed genital herpes cases. 

There are many reasons why this virus continues to spread, and here are the ones that should be getting the attention, instead of attacking one person at a time, for not disclosing.  

1-The CDC does not require testing for Herpes 1&2. So, many times when you go and ask for “everything” you are not getting tested for herpes (HSV) or HPV. The medical community, outside of the CDC, are resistant to giving the test, when specifically asked by patients to be tested. Doctors are also constantly misinforming patients on what they should do after being diagnosed.  

  • Doctors have told patients as long as they take meds and use condoms, and refrain from sex during an outbreak, that they don’t have to disclose. (Completely forgetting that both Type1 & Type2 are capable of being passed with no symptoms present (Asymptomatic Shedding) 
  • Doctors have told patients with herpes antibodies that, because they have no visible outbreak or symptoms that they were only “exposed” to the virus, but don’t in fact “have” the virus; leaving them to believe that they pose no threat to sexual partners. 

2-Access to testing & education, play a major role in the spread of herpes, in the youth community and those communities that lack financial infrastructure.  

  • If education was mandated to talk about the herpes virus from a medical stand point; young kids would know that cold sores are herpes and have the ability to be contagious.  
  • If access to testing was affordable, many people would know their status. The reason why HSV is not often included is because it’s more expensive, so many people already have it, and the risk of a false-positive diagnosis.  
  • In addition, a person that’s never had a sore or bump isn’t thinking to ask for testing. People often assume NO SYMPTOMS = NEGATIVE, when that’s not always the case. 

3-Public Perception: Commercials have done such a great job at marketing cold sores as something you just put a little cream on, and you’ll be fine.  

  • Marketing doesn’t tell you that your cold sore is actually ORAL HERPES (most often, but not exclusively HSV1) 
  • Marketing also doesn’t tell you that your cold sore, can shed when you’re not having an outbreak; and if you happen to perform oral sex on your partner, you can then pass them Genital Herpes Type1 

4-This virus is tricky AS FUCK!  

  • When it comes to herpes, condoms don’t always work to protect a partner (if it did, I wouldn’t be GHSV2+). So, even if you use condoms and a partner is asymptomatically shedding; they can transmit the virus.  
  • Add to that, If you ask a partner to get tested, there’s often a 3-6 month window where the virus may be setting up shop before it’s visible on a test. The fact remains that even if you make your partner get tested and exchange results, there is still a risk that someone could have herpes. So, after you’ve had the conversations, waited to have sex, got the tests, then proceeded, and months later – still contract herpes!!!! What could you have done any differently? What do you do now? 

With this, I push you to stop looking at this virus as something that’s more than sexual, IT’S HUMAN. The most recent data says 1in3 have HSV1 and 1in8 have HSV2. So, it’s very likely you may have already been with a herpes positive individual, and not have known it. 

CONTINUED IN PART 2

END OF HOT GIRL SUMMER

It’s official; today I left my house with my long flowing skirt, tank, denim jacket, and sandals; and DAMN! My toes were cold. I tune into my Monday morning, Whoreible_Decisions podcast and BOOM! The topic was the End of Hot Girl Summer (HGS). And with that, it’s only right that I write an homage piece on this fucking amazing summer that I had.  

To start it all off; and if you’re new to my blog; I’ll just offer a quick re-cap. Early this year, I went public with my sexual status (as HSV2 (Herpes) Positive), I also claimed my polyamorous, non-monogamous, and bisexual labels. With all of this out in the open I proceeded into the dating world, and to much of my surprise, it has been nothing short of a dream come true. 

The Men: 

I met my first post-poly partner in the Spring; after our first date, things progressed rapidly. We’ve managed to keep the connection intense and when we reconnect, it’s still as hot as the first time. We still continue to have amazing sex and explore new avenues of pleasure. I love sucking his dick and the taste of his cum. He loves eating my pussy, and I love when he plays with my ass. He was my first re-introduction to ass-play (Tabooty 1 & 2) and he aided in opening up an entirely new world of sex-ploration for me, which we are still exploring to this day 

I met my second partner a few weeks after the first; and he and I took things much slower though. He was in an open marriage and our schedules, in the beginning, didn’t always align. So, to keep the sexual tension hot, he would send me pictures of him jerking off and I would return the favor with videos of me playing with my pussy. He had(s) a beautiful dick; and all the videos we exchanged made me even more eager to experience him. It took almost 6 months before we became intimate, but once we did; we both acknowledged that the wait was totally worth it.  

I met my primary at such party, and he’s quite possibly been the best person to explore this revived lifestyle with. He matches my sexual libido, and he enjoys the many ways of kink, like I do. I could go on and on about all the amazing sex and sexual experiences we have; but what keeps me coming back is how he makes me feel. I don’t wonder when I’m with him; for now, we live the same lifestyle so I don’t have to convert him. He supports me in all of my extra-curricular activities, and he’s corny just like me.  

Parties: 

I attended my first of many sex parties. I accepted and relished in the fact that I enjoy being an exhibitionist. I love being pleased (in every way) while people gaze. I love the feeling of not-so-random hands caressing my breasts, as my partner devours my pussy; or a hand slaps my ass as I’m bent over sucking my partners dick; and I enjoy eating pussy that’s attached to a beautiful woman. I love knowing that the people at these parties are turned on by the sight of me, and I love how honest and freeing it feels to be in a room with like-minded people. 

Plugs: 

With ass-play back on the table; I found myself cruising the anal section at various sex-shops a little bit longer. I purchased a butt-cleaning kit, that came with a silicone butt-plug. I got fucked with a plug in my ass. I got a plug with a rainbow tail attached; and I even had some fantastic anal sex with my womanizer on my clit (That story to come soon). My primary just got me a present of jeweled butt-plugs that I’m so eager to play with in the near future.  

Podcasts: 

Last, but not least, I have to mention that; a lot of the comfort in coming out about all the things I enjoy sexually was aided by listening to the Whoreible_Decisions podcast. Knowing that two women, of color, were (are) so sexually free, allowed me to be more comfortable with my own sexuality. I was always a little freak, but much of what I did remained hidden. I did what I did in private, for fear of being judged, ridiculed, and/or outed. After listening to their podcast; I learned that whatever I put out there, with confidence, may never be used against me. If I owned my decisions and sexuality, no one could make how I choose to receive and/or give pleasure an act of shame.  

I had the pleasure of being a guest on their show in August, and I was able to shed light on living polyamorously, while being herpes positive. On the heels of the podcast, so many people reached out to me and told me how much hearing my story helped them. It makes me happy to know that my truth can help others; so, I know that I’m doing the right thing. Wanting to expand more upon that truth, I started writing my memoir. I’m so happy that I’ve been gifted with the ability to share my stories with my listeners and I hope you all will continue on this journey with me.  

Be sure to stay tuned; I have so many more, amazing stories coming to you; and I know you’re going to love them.  

HOW DO I TELL THEM?

Now that you have this horrible thing plaguing you, how can you ever live a normal life again? That was a question I asked myself once I was, finally, ready to get back into the dating world. Part of the answer is, having herpes is only as horrible as you make it. Another thing to consider is… What is normal?

We all have traveled different roads and have different stories to tell; and since people living with this virus are often secretive about it; this road is rarely ever paved, for the next person’s journey. There is a lot of trial and error in dealing with this virus; and I’ve tried quite a few things and here were my results.  

First things first: I want to stress the importance of taking time to actually heal after being diagnosed. I’m talking about emotional, spiritual, and mental healing. The first thing we often struggle with, post positive, is – Who will want me? I’ll tell you now, the answer is “Somebody!” Maybe not the person you thought, but there are enough people in the world that will see you and see beyond the virus. But, I deeply stress self-healing because; there are just as many people that will see your desire for acceptance and use that to have control over you. And what was once a great romance; soon becomes an abusive, manipulative, unfaithful, and sad situation. You’ll find yourself staying in that bad situation because you fear that no one else will want to be with you.  

You have to want yourself more than you want them. No person (herpes or not) that comes into your life should complete you. You have to be complete with yourself; that way, anyone that you allow to occupy time in your life, only adds a bonus. Think of how good it felt to see that 110% on a test because you answered the bonus question- that’s the feeling you want. 

ALL ON FRONT STREET (Immediate & Early Disclosure): “I’d rather not waste my time, so I just tell them to get it out of the way.”  

I only encourage this approach in hook-up scenarios (online or in person). I’ve online dated for a very long time, and most often than not, conversations turn to sex. So, as a tactic to get to the point I state the following:  

“So, just so you’re aware, before we go any further (before I come over); 10 years (X time) ago, I was diagnosed with genital herpes. None of my partners have tested positive, and I’ll do what I can to keep you negative; but you need to be aware of the risks.”  

The above, script gets the fact out there, with details in relation to my diagnosis and the partners that I’ve had that have not been affected by the virus. I allow the person to think about it, I honestly answer any questions they have and I allow them to make a choice. 

If you have not had this virus and you don’t have a record to reflect on; I used to say this: 

Before we go any further (before I come over); I need to let you know that, I was diagnosed with genital herpes (however long ago). I’m not having any symptoms right now, so the risk is minimal; but you should be aware of the risks.” 

It should be stated, that you will have the most recurrent outbreaks and episodes of shedding, within the first year. Antivirals (valtrex or acyclovir) and an overall healthier way of living will minimize the frequency of these episodes. But just because you’re not showing symptoms, that does not mean the virus isn’t present. This year period is a good time to self-reflect. Take the year to learn your body and what your triggers are. Adapt a healthier and stress-free life and move forward.  

*** 

I don’t like the AOFS approach when it’s a person you want to pursue in a more romantic way. When you blurt out herpes; you’re not allowing them to get to know you. Every person’s experience with this virus is different, but the image of what herpes is (magnified by the STIGMA) is always bad. Telling a person too soon, may cause them to only see the virus and not you. I realize that; nothing hurts more than dating a person, really falling for them, then when you finally disclose, they run for the hills. This rejection can send you into a downward spiral and make you never want to try again. But consider this fact; that people will reject you for a plethora of reasons: your education, past, finances, sexual past, the list goes on. Sure, you probably envisioned that they would be “The One” and now your hopes and dreams are shattered. But I promise you, they were not “The One”, they were simply the one you wanted.  

IN DUE TIME (Tactical Disclosure): “I like to wait a few dates in or before we become intimate” 

I advocate for this option for many reasons.  

1. I’ve encountered many men that seem to be nice, that turn out to be ass-hats. Not to mention, you’ll be grateful that you didn’t tell them if the ending turns disrespectful. In cases where I was called a bitch, I was happy the words “dirty” or “diseased” weren’t placed in front of it. 

2. There’s no need in disclosing something about yourself if you never make it to date one. With the dating culture filled with ghosts; the last thing you need, is to think someone didn’t show up because of you having herpes. I run out of hair follicles if I try to count how many times I’ve been ghosted, without them ever knowing I have herpes.  

3. The phone (or text) conversations seemed to flow like water; but the in-person date was so dry, you swear they hired a ghost-writer. If you never make it to date two, was all the stress to disclose really worth it? 

4. What’s wrong with just enjoying a date for the sake of a date? Again, the pressure and realization of this virus forces us to act with haste to find a partner, settle down, and be done with it all. So, we get all jazzed up to put our best foot forward to be chosen. But the truth is; there is nothing wrong with dating. Go on a date, share a kiss or two; it’s totally fine. Take your time and think to yourself; Would I want to be with this person, if I didn’t have herpes?” If the answer is yes then; set up a time to get ready to have the conversation. But if the answer is no; just enjoy the date. 

*** 

So, once you’ve determined you like this person, what do you say? The answer is, there is no perfect answer. The truth is, some people will NEVER want to take that risk, and you’ll have to accept that. It doesn’t make them bad and it doesn’t make you dirty or whatever; it just makes them “UNWILLING TO TAKE THE RISK”. I strongly advise confiding in a family member or friend and practicing. It may also help telling people that you have no genuine desire to be with. I’ve found the best approach is confidence combined with a dose of education. The fact is; many people know nothing about herpes. They know: they know it’s called an STD, they don’t want to get it, it’s forever, and causes blisters. Arming your conversation with facts will only help when disclosing. Facts help to dismantle the stigma; and it also shows people they don’t know all they thought they did. Practice makes perfect! 

I’ve disclosed; over the phone, via text message, and I’ve displayed my status on dating apps; but I’ve found that I prefer disclosing in person. I like the in-person approach, because I like to see their face as I tell them. I often realize that their face displays one of shock or surprise, because I don’t look like a person that has herpes. (Because people with herpes, have “A LOOK”). I can see their brain reprogramming itself as I go on and on with details and stats.  

One of the last dates, when I disclosed in person; went something like this. (We met on OKCupid, after date #2, and after date one he was already talking about giving me a ‘body massage’. I suggested we walk to the park and talk for a bit) 

Me: So, before we go back to your place, there is something you should know. 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with genital herpes. I’ve had boyfriends and partners since then, all of whom have never tested positive. I always do what I can to keep my partners negative, but as there is always a risk, that I have to make my partners aware of. 

Him: Wow! I wasn’t expecting that. Sorry you’re dealing with that. You know I really care about my health; I get tested after every partner, so I don’t think this will work.  

Me: Don’t be sorry. Many people have it and many people are unaware they may be carriers of the virus, so I just do what I can to inform my partners 

Him: Wait what? Don’t you get like blisters and stuff? 

Me: Some people do, but majority of people that have the virus show no symptoms; and many tests don’t include it. So, a lot of people are walking around, assuming they are negative, and all the while- are carriers of the virus and can spread it.  

Him: I didn’t know that.  

Me: Many people don’t. I would suggest that you and your partner get tested and share results before, if you care that much; since after would be too late. I told you, because I know, but like I said; many people don’t know, some people don’t tell, and many doctors don’t enforce telling.  

With the above, I was honest, direct, and was specific about my experience with the virus. The date didn’t continue, but there weren’t any hard feelings (I wasn’t head over heels for him), but even if I had been; I would still consider it a good disclosure story. There was no anger, disrespect, he asked questions and I answered.  

The below is a great way to feel a person out, if you’re still afraid to put yourself out there. This will be easier if there is an easy segue to the conversation, but with practice you’ll get better. 

SCENARIO 1: 

Me: My friend’s boyfriend (girlfriend) just found out that they tested positive for herpes.  

Him/Her: I’ll that’s disgusting! Was he/she cheating on him/her? 

Me: Not that she knows of. But, you know a lot of people have herpes, and most don’t know it. 

Him/Her: No! Only dirty people get herpes. 

Me: Would you call a child that gets cold sores dirty? Cold sores are herpes too.  

Him/Her: No it’s not! 

Me: It’s actually the (almost) identical virus. There’s actually a rise on genital HSV1 from people contracting it from oral sex.  

Him/Her: But, I get cold sores too. What does that mean for me? 

Me: Welcome to the club. I have herpes too.  

SCENARIO 2: 

Me: So, when was the last time you went to the doctor? 

Him/Her: (Enter date) hopefully! Why? 

Me: Well, I just want to make sure we both get tested and know our status before we plan to have sex. I feel knowledge of sexual health status is very important.  

Him/Her: Well, I’m good! I don’t have anything. What about you? 

Me: How would you know? 

Him/Her: Because I always use condoms and I don’t mess with dirty people. 

Now, the following is pending on the conversations you two may have had; like how soon the topic of sex was brought up during your previous conversations 

Me: So, you’ve seen the test results of every person you had sex with (including oral)? And you know condoms don’t protect you from everything; right? 

Him/Her: No. But I know the people I sleep with, and they’re good, so I know I’m good! 

With this response (and strong mental arrogance) you now have enough knowledge to either enforce testing before you continue, or simply walk away. 

One mistake I made early on (and sometimes still do, on occasion); I would assume that I’m the worst option on the table. I have herpes; so, nothing can top that. I only cared that they knew my status, but I NEVER enforced confirming theirs; it was enough for me to know they wanted me. I simply assumed, like we all do/did that the other person was STD/I negative. We put all the responsibility on the positive person to have to disclose, but rarely do we ask or confirm. Assumption is not Confirmation.  

So, before you lay down or engage with a person (especially if you don’t want to use condoms or other barriers) know their status. No one virus or infection is better than another, but I’d prefer to not add any additional ones to my list.