Bay Area Friends

The San Francisco Bay Area's Social Group for People with Genital Herpes

@ 20% of Adults in the USA have the virus for Genital Herpes, but @ 90% of them don't even know it! You are not alone! Please join us!

Telling Someone

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Tips For Telling Someone That You Have Herpes

[Reprinted with permission from DatingWithHerpes.org]

- Always tell your partner(s) about herpes BEFORE you  have sexual contact with them, and give them enough time to read up on it and  become better informed before deciding whether or not to have intimate contact  with you.  Do NOT wait until you are about to jump on each other and throw  caution to the wind.  And do not wait until AFTER you sleep with them!  Honesty  is always the best policy. Even if you are only interested in a casual  relationship, your partner deserves to know the facts before making the decision  to become intimate with you.  If you do not feel comfortable enough to talk to a  potential partner about herpes and other STDs, then you are NOT ready to have  sexual contact with them.  Wait until you feel ready to have “the  talk.”

- Stay calm when discussing “H.”  Remember, it’s a very common  virus that about 25% of  US adults already have. For most people who have it, symptoms are infrequent  or mild or mistaken for something else – so much so that up to 90% of the people  who have it, don’t even know it. You’re a normal person who just happens to have  “H”. Your friend will take their cues from you. If you make “H” sound like a  bigger deal than it is, they’ll be more concerned.

- Instead of saying “I have herpes,” say “I carry the virus for herpes.”  Think about it. If you say “I have herpes,” it makes it sound like you are currently having an outbreak and that you are always contagious.  If you say “I carry the virus for herpes,” and something about how often you do or do not get outbreaks, it sounds like a manageable issue.  For instance, up to 80% of people carry the virus HSV1, which causes cold sores around the mouth, and can also be transmitted to the genitals during oral sex.  But you don’t hear most people saying that they “have herpes” just because they carry the virus HSV1 and occasionally get cold sores.

- Explain to him/her  that there are many types of herpes, and  that one of the most common is HSV1 –  which is usually the cause of “cold sores” around the mouth. Up to 80% of the  US population already has HSV1 and got it sometime during their childhood from  kissing, etc. HSV1 can also be spread to the genitals during oral sex.  “Shingles” are caused by yet another strain of herpes – herpes zoster – same  virus that causes Chicken Pox.  Epstein-Barr and Mononucleosis are also  different strains of the herpes virus.  HSV2 is just a different strain of this  same common virus.

- Because HSV2 is so common – yet so few people who  have it have been properly diagnosed – it is possible that your friend might  already have the virus and not know it. And even if he/she doesn’t have it, odds  are that 1 in every 4 of his/her previous sexual partners had herpes, even if  they didn’t know it and were not showing any symptoms. You might recommend that  he/she get one of the new, very reliable type-specific blood tests for HSV2  (and/or HSV1).  Click  here for information on  herpes blood tests.

- Sleeping with someone who has HSV2 does NOT  mean that you are automatically going to get it, too. There are many couples in  which one partner has HSV2 and the other partner does not. Although there are no  absolute guarantees, there are many things you can do to greatly reduce the risk  of transmission.  Click here to learn how to reduce  the risk of transmission.  Also, since you already know that you have herpes  and are taking precautions to reduce the risk of spreading it, he/she has a  bigger risk of getting herpes from any of the other 1 in 4 people with herpes  who don’t KNOW that they have it and are taking NO precautions.

- “H” is  just a virus. It does not define who you are. Everyone has “stuff” to deal with  in their lives, and this is just one of the cards that you were dealt. In the  scheme of things, there are so many worse problems to have in a relationship –  lying, cheating, poor communication, values differences, anger management  problems, drug or alcohol abuse, lack of time, low self-esteem, or more serious  health problems. If “H” is your biggest issue, you’re a true catch!

-  Give your friend time to do some research on herpes – but also tell him/her  where to find that info. For instance, there are some links to great herpes info  on this website.  You might want to print out this list for him/her as a starting point. Ask  him/her to take whatever time they need to go over the information and to feel  free ask you any questions if they want.

- Remember, you are doing your  friend a favor by educating him/her about herpes. And even if he/she decides not  to move forward in the relationship, he/she is only deciding to reject the  herpes – not you personally. But you also might be pleasantly surprised at  his/her reaction.

- No matter what happens, your friend will think more  highly of you for being so honest with him/her and showing that you care about  his/her health. It will also show that you are a responsible, ethical person who  is willing and able to discuss “difficult” issues. These qualities will set you  apart from the many people out there who might  not disclose such things – just  so that they can sleep with someone. You’re not like those people. So unless he  or she is only looking for casual sex, they will recognize that you’re someone  they should not discard simply because of a silly and very manageable virus.

Good  luck!

Comments appreciated.  What are your suggestions and experiences with “having the talk”?

 

  • someone who feels better says:

    Thank you so much! I have had the viris for 10 years and wish my dr could have told me this then. I have had people want to be intimate with me, and I have always told them. Thinking they would be turned off, they respected me more, and were not at all turned off. They also liked me as a person before hand so that helped me get better because I hated myself. I could not even look in the mirror. I had always been so careful, and got the viris from someone who knew they had it and lied to me about it. but for some reason I no longer feel so ashamed.

    Thank you again

    11/01/2011 at 12:54 am
    • stephanie says:

      Ashamed is how I’ve felt….I’ve known for about 3 years and from that very moment after the positive text from my DR I decided to stay celibate and honestly didn’t even make myself available ALL this time……now of course I’ve just met a great guy who really likes me for ME. We’ve been talking (nothing sexual) and have gotten to know each other on a friend level first….(something I’ve never done before) I know he finds me attractive so now my heads spinning about how and when to let him know. I don’t feel ashamed as much any more. I know that however I got herpes was kinda out of my own control. I’ve always used condoms ALWAYS guess whoever it was was just too selfish and cowardish to tell me….I DO NOT wanna be like that. I would never want someone else to feel the emotions I went through….do you have any advice on when the times right? The biggest thing i’m worried about is that he will reject me and because we know mutual people that he will talk about it to get advice only (not in a negative way) to others that I have not shared with…..guess I can only cross my fingers and hope for the best right?

      03/05/2014 at 2:37 pm
      • admin says:

        Bay Area Friends has bi-monthly support meetings. One is coming up in Oakland on March 22. You should go. Join the Bay Area Friends Meetup Group for more info. http://www.meetup.com/bayareafriends1
        Good luck!

        03/15/2014 at 3:16 pm
  • Anonymous says:

    I just felt a hundred pounds lifted off my shoulders:) Thank you for the advice…I am reccently single out of a couple year relationship and have been nervous to even try to get close to somobody, but truth be told, honesty is the best policy and if they don’t like, at least you did your part… there is a plan for everybody! Thanks~

    09/12/2012 at 1:57 am

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