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telling friends in your life that you have herpes

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i have run into this problem before.. ill shorten my story.. basically i have had herpes for 9 months now (only my initial outbreak plus a mini one about 3 months ago) i have only dated one new guy since the one who gave me it and believe i was "saved" from having to tell him because days before i was planning to disclose (him having no idea) he disappeared and we don't talk anymore... looking back I'm happy because i feel god saved me from telling someone very unworthy. 


I have FINALLY forgiven and stopped hating the guy who gave me it and even when i see him around on campus i feel free and his presence doesn't bother me one bit. I think i needed that to move on and i was stuck before. i have a few best girlfriends in my life who at this time have boyfriends. one of them who is a virgin talks to me about sexual stuff and her boyfriend all the time. i am known as the advice friend and she comes to me about a lot. unfortunately she gets yeast infections very often and i know that is what my outbreak stemmed from. when i stress to my friends that they can get an std from oral they tell me they are going to get tested.


i probably come off as knowing a lot of information about this stuff to them so i hope they don't sense my secret. my friend asked me "so how many guys have eaten you out?" and i said "a lot..." and she goes ok so aren't you concerned and aren't you going to get tested then?!" and i just play it cool and say ehh I'm fine. (deep down i have herpes and got it that way.) it kills me to lie because i am so open but i truly don't think my friends need to know about this.


i trust this one friend so much if i told her, but a lot of me feels that it is so unnecessary because what if it did get out? there is that huge stigma and although i am not carrying the burden of herpes any longer and wouldn't mind disclosing at this point (stopped when i finally got over the guys who gave me it), i wouldn't care what she thought of me but i am in college and words do spread as nasty rumors if things got out.


i think its best not to tell but what do you guys think? tell some friends or save it strictly for potential boyfriends?

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Hi inspired,  I have had HSV2 for a few months.  I really feel for you as I know how hard it is to tell someone - and harder for you as you are still at college and it is easy for information to get passed on as everyone is in the same place day after day.  I am a lot older and my friends have maturity and aren't all in the same social or business circles.


I know you say you are over the burden of herpes but with having to keep such a secret you aren't...secrets that you feel afraid of sharing are burdens, it doesn't matter what they are.  I have chosen (while being scared) to share with my friends....it has lifted the burden and I don't feel so isolated — the plus is that they have admired my courage and integrity (I told them I was really scared of sharing with them and they feel privileged).


Now if someone finds out I will hold my head up and try and be an inspiration.  It's not about if it is the best thing or not to tell...its about you being able to feel connected with someone and not isolated — even if it's just one you choose to tell.  Not telling is not lying...but telling someone you trust can bring you closer together. And if you keep lying, then you aren't living with integrity and that will eventually be worse to live with than any "gossip."

I am so glad you feel like you have forgiven your giver. That is a huge step...now forgive yourself and be honest — that is the biggest gift you can give yourself.  Love yourself enough to tell someone you feel like you can trust.  I have told most of my friends (and my adult kids — believe me, THAT is the hardest thing!!!) and it has been amazing the deeper level of friendship, discussion and connection we have experienced.  It is scary but then most of the amazing things that ever happen in life are. Share your burden...it really is worth it.
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thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experiences with me. i appreciate that and love that it has worked out so well for you.


i agree with you 100% because i feel that way about other things that i share with my friends. it brings you close to your friends and withholding any information in general is isolating. i think that is why i consider myself such an open person with my friends. i basically tell them everything.


i do believe there is a time and place for certain pieces of information and that there are some things that do not NEED to be said. However, i will consider your advice, and when i feel like there is no turning back and that i do not care i will definitely start by telling one person and then see how it feels because i know how rewarding it will feel.


It was really nice going to an in person support group over winter break when i went home it lifted a lot off my shoulders. One of my friends from home (different state) when in college, knows but she is not a trustworthy friend and we don't talk anymore. it wasn't about this matter, she was not a good friend to me before this and she has not told anyone about this but it did feel good having one person bedsides my mom and sister to talk about it with. when the time is right, i may just tell my good friends. thank you!

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You are so welcome - I think you are handling it well.  It is such a big thing to disclose to someone and you can only do it when it feels right.  And...you will always care about this, it is always part of you - not sure if you ever get to the stage that it doesn't feel like that.  I have genital warts too - my husband was unfaithful to me years ago and I got that at 23.  I left him 7 years ago and didn't date anyone for over 5 years because I felt like damaged goods...now I have contracted HSV (from another man I loved who was honest and I took the risk - we are now just friends). Really unlucky...!  


'I have had to disclose both to several men I was dating and have been amazed at their positive responses. It's been good practice - I am not having a sexual relationship with any of them - by my choice because I have to get my head around having both and am still having lots of outbreaks. They have all been lovely to me and are less worried about it than I am and said that who I am is more important.  But...I am staying just friends with them - I need to wait and feel more comfortable about the possibility of passing it on.  I'm not worried about them telling anyone else now...I am proud of having the courage to do it...I wish that for you too.  If you need to chat anytime just post on here and I will keep in touch. 

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Dear Inspired & Lelani,

Let me start by saying that I admire the courage both of you have by coming to the (h)opp and connecting. 

A great first step!

I am probably old enough to be a mother to both of you (OMG!) but I think the desire to tell and the fear of what will happen is universal, no matter how old we are or how long we've had it.

I have known I have HSV2 for almost two years now. I (think) I got it from my ex boyfriend of eight years. He had it, and told me before we got involved. And while I did not make the most educated decision, I decided it was worth the risk to be with him.

We have not been together for three years now, and I was diagnosed a year and a half AFTER we broke up. I have only had to disclose to one partner since I found out, because every one else I have dated since has been in 'the club'. So I totally understand and respect the stress theat can come from disclosure to a potential partner. For me, it is the morally correct thing to do.

I have not however, told any of my family and friends. At first, I was too upset and working through the 'shame' of herpes to even begin to think about telling anyone. I think that we would greatly benefit from fiercly protecting ourselves until we have worked through the anger/grieving process first. You need time to adjust to dealing with the virus, and to a new way of being. Time to 'put the wagons in a circle' and be really good to yourself. I don't think it's dishonest to keep this to yourself - potential partners are the exception - because society puts a wicked stigma on herpes. I am so totally fine with myself and herpes, but how other people think about it has kept me from telling my family and friends, two years out. It just doesn't make sense to me to put myself in a position to be critisized by someone that has a preconcieved judgement. Besides, I am now at a point in my life where herpes does not define my self worth. I am so much more that this stupid virus! And I refused to be judged.

I can tell you that I highly recommend you connect with a support group in person. Inspired, stay in touch with someone - if not several someones! - from the group you attended over your holiday break. There are no doubt 'veterans' that would be more than happy to be a buddy, and talk over the phone when you just need to vent.  The group I am connected to here in Raleigh has been a blessing in my life! I have made several very good friends, and I am active in organizing events and facilitating meetings. I love it! My aunt, who is a recovering alcoholic, shared some AA principles with me. One of them is giving back when you are at the place where you have your issue under control. She is so totally right!

And by the way, yesterday she was my first family memeber disclosure. She is so loving, and has such an open mind, and it went fantastic! And to my complete surprise, SHE HAS IT TOO! For 20 years! She says it has not been an issue in her life at all.

What the heck, right?

Much love to you both. <3

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Thank you so much for posting Athena - it is so uplifting to hear how others are dealing with herpes and to share experiences.  I am 51 so you may not be old enough to be my mother, lol.  Like you I made a conscious decision to be with the man who I contracted herpes from..he was the first man who disclosed to me...before that, it was always me disclosing about my genital warts and dealing with it - what a relief to be with someone who had an STI, too!  He had had it for 26 years and the risk was low - but i still got it.  

There are no support groups where I live and I am wanting to start one - I agree with you about giving back .  I am very well known and it is a big step for me to do it, hence why i have told friends and family, good practice and they then also won't hear it from anyone else. I am glad your first disclosure was so positive...I would love to see that for everyone - the only way it can happen is to be more open about it, the more we hide it the longer the stigma lasts and the stronger it is.  

So I am hoping that soon i will be helping others with events and meetings to support them with herpes ... thanks Athena and much love to you too. x
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We are absolutely not alone! Did you know that of unmarried women ages 40 -50, 50 to 75% have genital herpes. Pretty astonishing, huh? What I'd love to know is, if there are damn many of us, what the heck are we all freaking our about herpes for??


As for starting your own group, I say go for it!!! You can start something up on Yahoo or Meetup. If there are any clinics in your area like Planned Parenthood, you might be able to partner with them. Craigs List might even work! Set your search criteria for herpes, HSV1 & HSV2....... you could also add HPV. I bet you'd get alot if interest!


Think about it........ just one person can start the change that we need.



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Yeah I know we aren't and its been really interesting that our age group have such little knowledge of this.  Both men I have been involved with who have it were diagnosed 25+ years ago and thought that they were only contagious when they had OB's - that is what they were told by their doctors.  And not having to go back for treatment since...both had very few OB's and didn't need to see a doctor about it or research it and they therefore didn't know any different.  I think it is a big problem with our age group if people were diagnosed years ago.

I have contacted my city's sexual health clinic and they weren't very helpful and then the national Herpes organisation and by both email and leaving them a message to call me...they were keen but no one has got back to me - slack!!!  So I will just do it myself and then contact them to say its available - I used to teach childbirth classes and teach special courses in highschools so I have experience in adult education and support - and have set up new groups before.  I'll let you know how I get on - am thinking I would like to teach sexual health in schools now - they do such a bad job of it here.  Maybe I can be the change that is needed...
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I just wanted to add in a detail i forgot is that i have HSV type 1 on my genitals which i hear in my generation is much more common now. I don't know how much you both know about this type but i have done some research and found it is second most rare next to type 2 oral.


when i did go to my in-person support group, however, i met one on one with the leader of the meeting to feel comfortable and because i wanted to really deeply share my story with her and gain her insight. it is difficult when you don't have many people to talk to and when your mom and sister are the only ones who know besides your giver it is hard.


my mom is very affected by my virus and cries almost every time i bring it up which hurts me a lot because i get angry that i have gotten to a point of overcoming the burden, and she acts like i am going to die. i know it's because I'm her DAUGHTER and i'll know what that's like someday (as she says), but it drags me down, so i barely talk to her about it anymore.


Anyways, back to the meeting, when i told her about my type she said you know you really only need to disclose to a partner if they DO NOT have oral herpes... and was shocked. she said you are immune to type 1 now and if they already have cold sores then they cannot get it from me by oral. she said your chances of contracting type 2 are still there but are extremely low because type 2 on the mouth is the most rare form... type one likes the mouth not genitals, which makes it only likely for a boy to catch it if they do not have cold sores. she says all you need to ask the guy before even disclosing is do you ever get cold sores? and if they say yes then say oh me too i was just wondering and if not then you can explain it.


again, this is still my choice but that made me fee a WHOLE WORLD OF BETTER! also the fact that i shed less and have only had 1 mini outbreak since my initial helps. i am still coping through this, it is a process, but i am "seeing" ish a new boy now and it has not crossed my mind as much as it did when i was with the one right after my giver.


i think i am really overcoming this but when the time is right, if he is special enough, i believe 100% in informing him. I hope i can continue like you both to grow through this as strongly as you have! 

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