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MM1987

Non- disclosure, casual partners

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Hi there, I recently got diagnosed, have been trying to work through it.

I know it’s ‘wrong’ but I have been having thoughts of non disclosure with casual sex partners. The idea of telling someone is so anxiety inducing that I don’t think I ever can. A few things that have made me rationalise this is:

-          It’s only a skin condition

-          People with oral herpes are not expected to ‘disclose’. As its ‘not a big deal’.. why is hsv2 different because its on a different body part

-          The other person may have it already and not know

-          There is always risk with all sexual contact, there can never be a 100 percent guarantee with anyone you have sex with, that they won’t give you herpes or another sti/std. Sex is NEVER risk free.

-          They would be more likely to get it from a partner who doesn’t know they have it, than from me

-          So many people don’t know they have it… and they will be spreading it around anyway

-          The transmission rate female to male, with condoms and meds is 1% … which is very low. Condom use to prevent pregnancy is 98% effective, contraceptive pill use to prevent pregnancy is 91% or 99% with ‘perfect’ use (no days skipped, no vomiting etc).  In the video it’s mentioned that you have a 1.8% chance of dying in a car accident… We don’t have a discussion about the risk of death to passengers in our car before they get in… we don’t mention that the pill is 1-9% ineffective before sex either, … both of these things have much more serious consequences than a skin condition… why is it that we are obligated to disclose hsv… but not all of the other things that have a 1% risk… why is it that 1% is viewed as so low a risk its insignificant, not worth mentioning in these exmaples… but not in the case of hsv?

These are thoughts I have had, I haven’t had sex with anyone since the person who passed it on to me…

I understand all the points about how to turn this around into an opportunity for deep connection, trust, intimacy, and that is all great… if you want to develop/ are in a relationship with someone, but for more casual relationships?

For a lot of people now, casual sex, and sex early on in dating is expected, the normal thing to do… it usually happens within the first 3-4 dates. But deciding to be in a relationship with someone would take more like 3-4 months…

It feels like everyone here is a perfect person who wouldn’t even DREAM of not disclosing… I’m not a perfect person at all. The information website I was given by my dr also has a section which talks about disclosing AND not disclosing with casual partners while using protection.

The idea of not-disclosing makes me feel relieved. Obviously its lock-down and nothing is happening for anyone for however long… Maybe these thoughts are part of the process and I will work through them.

how DO I work through them? Has anyone not disclosed to casual partners? How did you feel? How do I let go of non-disclosure as an option especially when there are valid points?

 

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I’m not one to scold you, but I honestly think that it is only right to disclose.

How did you get herpes? How did you feel afterwards? If it was like majority of us here, you were surprised and felt deceived. More than likely, you went through a period of self pity. 
 

With that in mind, why would you put someone through that? It is truly despicable. Similarly, trying to rationalize and minimize the deceit is also utterly disgusting. 
 

I could not do it because I’m a firm believer in karma. 
 

Imagine that you hooked up with someone, because “hey, it’s just herpes,” and they were hiding something equally as bad and you acquired HIV. Would you be upset? What if they tried to rationalize having HIV like you tried to minimize having herpes? How would you feel?

What if the person who gave you HIV said “it’s just like any other chronic illness-diabetes, Crohn’s disease, lupus?” Would you see their perspective on the subject?
 

It’s your life and you will do what you think is best. However, I hope that you have enough empathy and compassion to not put someone through the hurt and life-altering anxiety that many people experience when they are initially diagnosed with herpes. Allow the other person to have a choice; give them what you, perhaps, did not receive. 

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Feels like a scolding, which is fair enough. I'm very open to being called out on selfish behaviour and reasoning.

The things I have mentioned in the list aren't opinions or me trying to 'minimise' 

they are true observations... that DO have a minimising effect...or at least seem to paint something of a grey area.

more like.. why is this thing okay.. but this thing isn't? ... I'm not a bad person for observing that there is a lot of conflicting information and opinions around herpes,and asking for guidance. For example... I discussed the diagnosis with a friend.. who said she 'gets coldsores'... as 80 percent of people do... she definitely does not disclose that information when she has oral sex... and 50% of new cases are caused this way... She frowned and scowled when I said that a friend suggested I use condoms, go on meds, and disclose only if I want to. Why is one despicable but people with hsv1 having oral sex are not? Or are they 'bad' people too? 

Lots of the information I have come across simultaneously minimises herpes (its a skin condition, extremely low rate of transmission, asymptomatic) but also makes it out to be extremely serious (like comparing to HIV which contributes to the death of millions of people).

Sexual health clinics don't test for it.. CDC doesn't recommend testing... Dr said use condoms and disclosure is a personal choice...80 percent of people who have it dont know and pass it on... and nothing is done to prevent that, those examples suggest that its not serious.. or not taken seriously by health professionals.. yet a person who has it, is expected to take it EXTREMELY seriously in terms of disclosure... and may have to deal with very serious relationship and mental health problems as a result of disclosure. I guess I find that confusing. 

In terms of my own feelings, I did not feel deceived, the person who passed it on says he didn't know he had them, and as all sexual contact poses a risk of herpes/hpv I suppose I see it as being unlucky. If he knew- was not on medication and was not using condoms I would feel deceived/he was irresponsible... if he knew and was taking responsible preventative measures but did not disclose I would not mind, but this is because I know that would bring the risk down to 2.5% which in my opinion is incredibly low. If I was in a relationship with someone I would want them to tell me, but mainly because I want them to share themselves and be comfortable... I would not be angry if they had done what was within their power to reduce transmission. I suppose I see the risk as inherently there regardless of knowledge of or disclosure.

Thats the point though isn't it... everyone is different with what they find an acceptable risk.. where I find 1-2% risk completely insignificant, to someone else that might be too much and that's their choice.. that I should not be making for them.

I appreciate the perspective and wake up call.

The more I think about it the more I lean towards a break from relationships and sex in general, so as to reduce the potential anxiety of disclosure. I'm definitely not at a stage where I am willing to disclose and open myself up to being rejected and shamed for this.

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MM1987,

First, I want to say that I think it is brave for you to make this post even as I understand HopefulHerpy’s concerns and sentiments. You’re right, there is a kind of contradiction in telling people that herpes is not a big deal and that you can have a completely normal happy life with it, and that it’s just a skin infection that has an unjust social stigma, and then on the other hand compare it to HIV. Personally, I feel like herpes testing should be part of the standard STD panel, because if more people tested then we’d all be aware of how common it is and the stigma would go away.

 

I share some of your concerns and I’m in possibly a similar situation because I’m not looking for a serious relationship, although I don’t truly know my HSV-2 status because I have a low positive and I’m in the process of getting a western blot confirmatory test. Allow me to share a little bit of my story in the hopes that it might help in someway.

 

I was married to a man for almost 30 years, which is most of my life since I’m 48 years old. When we got divorced last year I went through a period of dating casually a number of men and perhaps I went overboard, however, I generally use protection with a few exceptions. I regularly got tested with the standard STD panel, which does not include herpes, and then at my annual exam this past February I specifically asked for herpes testing since I’ve never been tested for it in my life, even though I had absolutely no symptoms and had no specific reason to think I had herpes. So began a difficult journey that’s still unfolding.

 

First, my doctors office called me and told me that everything came back negative except for HSV-2 which was definitely positive. I was in shock. It’s not that it wasn’t possible for me to have it, I just couldn’t believe that after 30 years of monogamy, seven months of silliness could result in this. Right away I disclosed to the four different men I had most recently had sex with (in the past month). Three of them were totally cool about it, or so it seemed. (One of them even asked me out for that night right after we had the talk!)

 

The fourth one freaked out, as he is a more traditional person and had been looking to have a serious relationship with me rather than a casual one. He did say some things that were very judgmental, however after giving him a couple of hours, he told me he cared about me and we were in it together and it didn’t matter to him if I had it or if I gave it to him.  He did asked to see my actual results, which I did not have because they were given by phone. So I called my doctor and went and picked them up. To my shock, the result was not positive at all. It was an equivocal result, meaning neither negative nor positive and requiring a retest. So then I had to contact all four again and tell them that a mistake was made.

 

The ignorance of my doctors office was astounding. I had to lobby to get a retest which I got in March and it returned a low positive results, which is why I’m getting Western blot.

 

Anyway, none of the casual guys thought they had herpes first, although they weren’t sure if they’d ever been tested, and the serious fourth guy was absolutely certain that there was no way in the world he could have it. To date I don’t think any of the casual guys have been tested. They just didn’t really care about it that much. One of them told me that he did test negative, however I have my doubts. That guy told me he was fine with it but then disappeared for five weeks before I contacted him to ask why he disappeared, and now we’re hooking up again.

 

Fast forward to early April. Fourth guy, the one who was supposedly in love with me and thought it was absolutely impossible for him to have herpes, tested unambiguously positive for HSV-1 and HSV-2. English is not his first language, so I helped him talk with the doctor about the results. During that conversation the doctor asked him if he had ever had any symptoms and he said yes he had had an irritation for most of his adult life that reappeared periodically in the genital area. He said the last time he had it was like two weeks ago! I was not upset about him having herpes, but him having symptoms that he never shared with me after I told him my results, was devastating and destroyed my trust in him.

 

At first he was racked with guilt because he felt like he gave me herpes even though there’s no way to know who had it first and I don’t even know if I have it. He told me he wanted to be alone and didn’t want to be with me anymore because of that. I helped him get some information and then I left him alone. About a week later he contacted me ready to be together again, having decided that it was probably me who had it first and he was willing to forgive me. But, in that time, I’d felt completely abandoned and lied to. I felt like he should have disclosed to me those symptoms he had, even if he was certain they weren’t herpes, especially after I told him I had a positive test. Instead of making me feel bad for my sex life, and trying to make himself appear superior to me, he should have thought about the possibility that he gave it to me. I also had time to look at the many, many problems in our relationship having nothing to do with herpes, so I decided I was fine with him leaving and didn’t want to be with him anymore. I told him this and he freaked out and said I was a slut, that I was running around infecting men everywhere, and I was a bad person because I broke up with him due to his positive results. This proved that this was not a person I want to be with anyway. I do still feel guilty about breaking up with him during this time that is so difficult. I don’t know what my status is, and it would’ve been nice to be able to be in it together, but I can’t overlook the things that he said to me.

 

What are the takeaways here in relation to your post?

 

  1. When I disclosed to four different men that I was HSV-2 positive, two of them were totally accepting of it and had no problem, one freaked out and then came around, and one said he was fine but then needed some time to deal with it before coming around.
  2. When the one guy found out he was positive too, he jumped to the conclusion that I gave it to him and did end up freaking out and making me feel terrible and all that, however this showed that he wasn’t a person I want to be with anyway.
  3. Finding out that someone had symptoms that could be related to herpes and didn’t tell me about it was a total dealbreaker for us building a relationship from there. I know you’re not necessarily looking for a relationship, but I’m just saying the fact that there was prior knowledge that wasn’t told to me so I could make my own decisions, was definitely a huge problem, one of the few things I find unforgivable.
  4. If my results end up being positive, I am afraid that my options will be limited, however I see that three out of the four people who were interested in me before on a casual basis are still interested in me now, and none of them were all that shocked about it even if they each have their own ways of dealing with it. Only two of them were even concerned enough to have themselves tested. One actually told me that it was silly for me to be so upset about it because millions of people have herpes and it’s just a rash. And with the exception of judgmental fourth guy, every one of those guys right away thanked me for disclosing to him and asked me first if I was OK rather than worrying about their own risk of infection.
  5. Most importantly, I feel good about disclosing right away even though it was awkward and I had to have the conversation more than once as it turned out, because I know that I’m being honest, but also because it showed me who I was dealing with. And even when it’s a casual thing, that ends up being important because with sex there are always risks for things going wrong and you want to be sure you’re dealing with someone who isn’t emotionally a toddler.

 

I understand your reluctance to disclose and I have no judgments for that. In fact, I thought about it myself. I just think when you disclose you do yourself a service, and it’s worth it to know that you’re having sex with someone who is an adult. 

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I understand both schools of thought on the topic. 
 

Pheobe, like you, I have also have questionable test results. I was diagnosed is June 2014 with a low-value IGG (0.92); it was right above the cutoff. I retested & the next time the results were equivocal. Since then, I’ve tested every year and my results are negative. I tested in July before I gave birth & I recently tested last week.

 

I am also in the process of getting the Western Blot. I was shocked and hurt, when I was told that I had HSV2 in 2014. I, too, felt like I shouldn’t have to disclose. I felt like I got it because someone didn’t disclose to me, so why should I have to be a saint. But then I thought about how I’d like someone to handle the situation if the roles were reversed.

 

AlthOugh I don’t have a definitive answer to whether or not I have herpes, I operate like I do. Perhaps it’s my Puritanical upbringing, but I believe that you should do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. 
 

Do I hate having herpes? F&@! Yes! Do I hide in shame when my friends make jokes about herpes? Yes! Was I one of those small-minded people before my diagnosis? Probably! I’ve learned through experience that the same thing that’ll make you laugh will also make you cry. 
 

Telling my then boyfriend was the most humiliating thing I’ve had to do to date & I’ve pissed on a lover in bed after a drunken night of passion. 

Aside from the shame, I feel good about myself for being honest with my partner. It all boils down to character for me: what you do when no one is watching or when no one knows the truth. 

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On 4/16/2020 at 1:25 PM, MM1987 said:

Feels like a scolding, which is fair enough. I'm very open to being called out on selfish behaviour and reasoning.

The things I have mentioned in the list aren't opinions or me trying to 'minimise' 

they are true observations... that DO have a minimising effect...or at least seem to paint something of a grey area.

more like.. why is this thing okay.. but this thing isn't? ... I'm not a bad person for observing that there is a lot of conflicting information and opinions around herpes,and asking for guidance. For example... I discussed the diagnosis with a friend.. who said she 'gets coldsores'... as 80 percent of people do... she definitely does not disclose that information when she has oral sex... and 50% of new cases are caused this way... She frowned and scowled when I said that a friend suggested I use condoms, go on meds, and disclose only if I want to. Why is one despicable but people with hsv1 having oral sex are not? Or are they 'bad' people too? 

Lots of the information I have come across simultaneously minimises herpes (its a skin condition, extremely low rate of transmission, asymptomatic) but also makes it out to be extremely serious (like comparing to HIV which contributes to the death of millions of people).

Sexual health clinics don't test for it.. CDC doesn't recommend testing... Dr said use condoms and disclosure is a personal choice...80 percent of people who have it dont know and pass it on... and nothing is done to prevent that, those examples suggest that its not serious.. or not taken seriously by health professionals.. yet a person who has it, is expected to take it EXTREMELY seriously in terms of disclosure... and may have to deal with very serious relationship and mental health problems as a result of disclosure. I guess I find that confusing. 

In terms of my own feelings, I did not feel deceived, the person who passed it on says he didn't know he had them, and as all sexual contact poses a risk of herpes/hpv I suppose I see it as being unlucky. If he knew- was not on medication and was not using condoms I would feel deceived/he was irresponsible... if he knew and was taking responsible preventative measures but did not disclose I would not mind, but this is because I know that would bring the risk down to 2.5% which in my opinion is incredibly low. If I was in a relationship with someone I would want them to tell me, but mainly because I want them to share themselves and be comfortable... I would not be angry if they had done what was within their power to reduce transmission. I suppose I see the risk as inherently there regardless of knowledge of or disclosure.

Thats the point though isn't it... everyone is different with what they find an acceptable risk.. where I find 1-2% risk completely insignificant, to someone else that might be too much and that's their choice.. that I should not be making for them.

I appreciate the perspective and wake up call.

The more I think about it the more I lean towards a break from relationships and sex in general, so as to reduce the potential anxiety of disclosure. I'm definitely not at a stage where I am willing to disclose and open myself up to being rejected and shamed for this

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I can’t say I disagree with this post. You have valid points. However, I will say that with my first disclosure I contemplated about even telling him. He was moving out of state and I kept thinking what was the point. But when it came down to it, it wasn’t even a choice for me. I had to tell him. It was always in the back of my mind. Ideally, I wish I didn’t have to disclose until it became a serious relationship but I think if waiting that long it ends up looking deceitful to that potential partner. 

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I’m honestly so glad you said this. I have these thoughts all the time, so you are not alone. It’s like, great, now I have to tell someone I’m just getting to know my deepest darkest secret and make a decision within the first few times of hanging out if I want a long term relationship with this person. It’s just not realistic and not fair. 

It basically just forced me to give up on casual sex, which really sucks sometimes... especially when it’s been 3 years since my last relationship and I can’t seem to find the next right person for me. 

It’s made me be the “prude” in the online dating scene because I keep putting off sex until we can get to know one another and I decide where this is going. But that prude isn’t really me. And so most the time I just prefer say fuck it and stop dating.
 

But here’s the honest truth:

1. You can only non disclose if you for sure won’t see this person again, and how can you know that for sure? The worst thing is when you don’t and then you want to date that person later and now you can’t not tell them. And now you’re stuck with them feeling angry, confused, and doubting their trust in you. 
 

2. I’ve non disclosed twice sort of by accident (substances involved) and sort of out of cowardice... and then had to fess up. It’s 100 times worse of a conversation than if I had just done it up front. 


So I don’t really have the answer, aside from take the meds, use condoms, and only non-disclose if it’s truly no strings attached.

I haven’t landed on this answer for myself and unfortunately have turned inward and away from dating as result. Just know I’m with you... SOLIDARITY

 

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