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Need advice on how to support (H)+ partner, please.

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Hi everyone,

I am a 30-something H(-) female and new partner is a forty-something H(+) male. I have known my best friend for three years and during this time we have helped each other through many emotional ups and downs. He is the closest person to me in the whole world, and when he hurts, it makes me hurt. In the past, we have strictly been nothing more than best friends. There has not been any intimacy. Recently, we have talked in length about moving our relationship forward. We both are single adults and our relationship is so strong, that I believe we could make a really great, dynamic couple. He told me during this discussion that he contracted HSV2 last year. During this last year I have watched him suffer from depression and pull away from me and our friendship. This was the only thing that he never shared with me, nor anyone, and had to struggle to cope with this diagnosis on his own. I could see the shame and embarrassment in his eyes when he told me about it. Since we had been talking about moving our relationship forward, he felt as though it was finally necessary to disclose his H(+) status with me. In the last month since he has told me, I have researched the hell out of this and realized that it is NOT a deal breaker. I love this man and want to be there to support him through this. He though feels as if he can never be sexually active again and has major anxiety about passing the virus on to me. I have told him that I love him for who he is and tried to explain that the virus is not a big deal to me. I know that we can take steps to reduce my risk and it really is nothing more than an intermittent skin irritation in annoying place. I love the person and something this benign is not going to stop me from forming an amazing relationship with him. I feel though that this has psychologically damaged him and I am not really sure how to help. I would do anything for him and even if our relationship didn't work out in the future, I would never hold him liable if I did end up with the virus too. It is a risk that I am willing to take for him. I just want to help him through this and I don't know how. Like I said, he has been struggling with this for over a year alone. Help! Advice! Anything, please?!

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Welcome to the forum. First of all, the hardest part of the h is stigma. I'm a newbie, had two outbreaks and believe me they are just uncomfortable and really manageable. However, the feeling you get when you diagnosed, the feeling that you're dirty, and not worth of someone's love is the hardest part. So you guys are pretty lucky that you found each other. You can support him by explaining the fact that std's are normal, they are just part of being human and he is still sexy. You can put his mind at ease by explaining him that if he takes antivirals and use condoms, transmission rates are pretty low. Also, be there for him. H tends to aggrevate a person's insecurities. Good luck.

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Thanks for the response. Yes, we have had those convos. Although I can not completely understand how he is feeling as I do not have the diagnosis, I am able to empathize completely with the way he is feeling. I just want him to feel like a whole person again and it breaks my heart to see and feel his struggles.

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Well some people, myself included, dig a deep hole when something like this happens and throw ourselves a pity party. Coming up from that hole isnt easy. It takes time. Like I said be there for him. Sooner or later he's gonna see that life goes on and he has you to rely on.

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Hello and Welcome AND, thank you for coming here to get advice... we have a section for people like yourself because we know how perplexing and confusing it can be to be "on the outside" and not know how to help.


The best thing you can do is get him to join here and/or see if you can find a local Support Group for him to go to and see that he is FAR from alone and that life DOES go on after you get H. There's no way you can talk him out of his fears until he actually sees that he's not alone. Support groups (online of in person) are the best way for him to see that.


In the meantime, give him these links/printouts. Let him see that you have done your research and ask him to sit down with you and watch the video and read the articles, then discuss them.


One other thing you can do is ask him to go with you to your OBGYN to talk about your risks.... so he can see you have taken the info in and you are making an informed CHOICE to be with him. You can also have him do a Skype discussion with @Adrial who is an awesome coach.... if he prefers to discuss it with a woman, I'll happily talk to him.


Bottom line is he needs support and info from people who can help him to get a reality check on the facts. We often have people on here who start to talk to family and friends about their status who find out that they know a LOT of people who have the virus. It's just that our society discourages discussing it. So people feel alone and isolate themselves and sadly become depressed... and it's sooo unnecessary! Education is what we need but it's sadly lacking ...which is why I'm an advocate for people with the virus.


Good luck... and keep us informed 🙂




Handouts + disclosure e-book:


Herpes facts video


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Hi Pickaname

Congrats on being a strong supportive woman. I hope that you and your new relationship grows strong and stays H(-/+).

Anyhow, I have to give your man kudos on being upfront with you and giving you the right to choose to stay or to just remain friends. I was not so lucky to have a choice:((( Anyway, some must and should dos.... You MUST look at his penis or genitals frequently and always before sex with the lights ON>>>> if he feels tingling or burning or any unusual symptoms, give it a day or 2 bc he may be starting a breakout. You MUST not have sex with any type of open sore on his mouth, your mouth, your vagina/anus or his man junk. You SHOULD have vaginal sex and oral sex only with a condom, but being that this is advice only...you all decide ..but please inspect the goods!! You SHOULD not share towels, wash cloths, or toothbrushes. I think most other household items should be ok. You COULD ask your PCP about preventive medication or acyclovir to decrease your risks. He could take daily suppression valacyclovir to decrease shedding or risk...key word is decrease!! Also, L-Lysine once daily is known to decrease the replication cycle of the virus RNA, grape seed extract is great for boosting the immune system and keeping you healthy, Sooooo, for the beginnig hot and heavy of you guys relationship, invest in the above ..you may have a fighting chance!!!

Good luck to both of you.....and tell him he has big ba$%s for telling you the truth...keep his head up.... Much love :)

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I have to say, I think inspecting a romantic partner's genitals with the lights on before every sexual encounter does not sound supportive to me, particularly in a case in which the partner has already shown themselves to be responsible and is having a difficult time coming to terms with his positive status. I think if a partner is so anxious that they feel the need to inspect their partner's genitals before each sexual encounter, that's an indication they would be better off finding someone who has tested negative for both types of HSV.


I do understand the importance of both partners in a discordant relationship being responsible about risk of transmission, but regularly inspecting a partner's genitals goes beyond what I would consider supportive. Just my opinion.

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@optimist Yoooo I agree....I havent been in that situation because I still have alot of issues that Im being tortured by as you have so kindly givin your time and advice on and again thanx so I havent had sex or even kissed a girl since summer 2014 which is getting numbingly lonely but naw imma man we suffer in silence so as they say in the court to the jury disregard that last statement lol....but if I do get to that point and a girl inspect me like a freak of nature the blood pumping through my veins would turn into ice and I would proceed to do as my name suggest.....the always use a condom thing sounds good but its also one of the most depressing things ive ever heard in my life...like that sounds like no point of course after your in a committed relationship I mean and you still ALWAYS have to use them then honestly theres no point I can't imagine a marriage or boyfriend gf relationship filled with sex with condoms...they fuckin suck idc what anybody says lol but i support the use infact always have...even when i contracted I was using one and took it off like a dumb fuck...anyways I feel as though @ShiningStar has some anger that surfaced in what she was saying and im not attacking you lil mama im just saying i felt imo it wasa tad bit of passive aggressiveness which I think all of us are entitled to...again im not attacking you, you put your pic on here so u clearly a savage (where im from thats a compliment lol like you brave and you look cute btw lol) but I dont think inspecting is necessary that sounds horrible and degrading...


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No, not angry at all. Just much, much wiser than I was prior to being in my situation...now yes it may sound unrealistic but I'm proud of my body and have no reason not to leave the lights on. Infact, any guy that wants to have sex with me so far has no problem with lights on and me looking at it.... now I dont mean like your getting ready for a prostate exam and I'm snapping the rubber gloves but I do get to see what I'm dealing with. Now...on the flip side, she intends to stay as healthy as possible..yes. so if he's abnormally red or rashed she can say no. Now, if she doesnt look, it like flipping a coin...and how many times before the coin lands on tails. BTW, there are other STDs that present as ulcers, genital warts, and if you dont look, how will you know ?? Anyway, thats my opinion, and she will decide whats best for her....Why do you think I'm angry or passive aggressive, wtf?? I dont even know what that means!!!

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I think the fact that "just looking" is pointless unless of course there is something dead obvious then of course but if one thinks every think red or ANY thing in your lower region is related to herpes you might as well just not have sex at all..ever...I think safety is important but I think un realistic hyper vigilance causes anxiety and self consciousness all the time...are you talking about looking at random people one is having sex with or like a committed boy friend or girlfriend....that sounds horrible... everytime you have sex an examination needs to happen....thats dead yo....most people pass it without visible symptoms to begin with.....of course the compliments I gave u are overlooked and the only take away is what could be misconstrued as a put down so "idk wtf that means" either...never mind

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@shiningstar, I have to agree with the others. If someone is trustworthy enough to disclose, then I would think they are trustworthy enough to not put you at risk while they are having an outbreak or symptoms of. If someone inspected my genitals every time we had sex, I would no longer want them as a partner. Shedding isn't visible, and everyones outbreaks aren't obvious, and neither are the majority of STDs either.


Sharing towels and washrags does not spread herpes. He has genital HSV2 so his toothbrush isn't even an object that comes in contact with his genitals?? (Unless he has some very odd habits). If it makes you feel safer to be hyper-vigilant then by all means do so, but it isn't necessary.

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@Shiningstar ..


Honey - no one is judging you here... but we are VERY careful to not have people spread info that is not accurate.


I'm a 35+ yr veteran of H. I've been on many discussion boards and been advocating/studying this virus for many years. So I kinda have seen and heard it all. And your beliefs are normal, but not accurate and the others are trying to temper what you posted with more accurate facts.


For one thing, the VAST majority of people get Herpes from someone with NO symptoms. Because when we know we have Herpes, we tend to be hyper aware of what's happening around our junk. There are articles out there with this info that I will include below because I think it will help you to see a more realistic view of the virus and how we live and deal with it.


http://m.jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/194/1/42.long Knowledge of Partners’ Genital Herpes Protects against Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Acquisition


Second: You CAN'T get the virus from towels, toothbrushes, etc. Of course, if I happen to have an OB I am more cautious then when I don't, but water, soap, sun, and air all kill the virus VERY quickly. I have had H since I was 17 (got it with my first sexual experience but didn't realize what the rash was/misdiagnosed till after I was married). I shared towels with both my daughters without thinking about it, had baths with them and cuddled with them no end. I just did *normal* hygiene hand washing as well as making sure to was well after touching the junk. I also have oral H1 (got as a kid). I kissed on them plenty too, but again, never with a sore and I never did the "sloppy kiss" type because that *is* more likely to pass it on without symptoms (but honestly, odds are they will get it from another kid like I did..60% have it by adulthood from other kids). Neither of them ever got it from me.




As for condoms, well, honey, as we get older lets just say that they usually impede the process for most men. And let me tell you, for many, if they can't perform that messes with their heads (BOTH of them!). The thing is, once you have had H for awhile, your body usually controls it pretty well. I rarely have OB's and they are usually tiny and easy to beat into submission so they disappear again. I've been in several LTR's since my divorce 10+ yrs ago, and once we were exclusive we CHOSE to not use condoms.... it was something we discussed and looked at all the issues with and without them.


Most of the time what I do is I go on the anti-virals when it looks like things may get physical - usually I've disclosed already. I actually have my status on most of my dating profiles (and it doesn't stop H- men from contacting me!) so we usually discuss the issue pretty early on. If I am on the meds their risk is pretty low. I also insist on condoms until I see *their* STD tests. Once we are exclusive (which for me, is right around the time we have sex the first time) I suggest we use the meds and condoms for the first 3 months, and if things are still great and our STD tests are still clear, if they wish to stop using condoms, that is THEIR choice. I've been with several men for 3+ yrs each and none of them got it from me and one insisted I didn't take the meds either.


This is a little more complicated if the H- person is a woman as you have the issue of how the condom affects the guy vs her concerns about getting H. It generally becomes an issue of entrusting the H+ person to just be honest with any concerns they have about potential OB's. I generally tell my partner if I have *any* tickle or sensation going on down there, even if I think it's an underwear rub or whatever. On those days, we just find other ways to get our freak on. To be honest, Herpes gives us the excuse to "Get Freaky"...LOL .... BONUS!


Either way, I agree with the others in that it's kinda a buzz kill to have to "inspect" your partner's genitals ... but of course, we should always be alert to anything we see... but for many if their partner always wanted to "inspect" their genitals, it would be a pretty big mind-fuck as it's a constant reminder of their status... and we are pretty good at being all-too-aware of our status as it is.


So I'd say:


Be ALERT and aware (BOTH partners),


Be HONEST if you have a concern (there's always other ways to play),


And DISCUSS what you are both comfortable with (and this can change over time)


We are all adults here. So if everyone is honest and informed, we need to make ADULT (informed) CHOICES about what risks we are ok with. You get in a car every day KNOWING people die or are injured all the time in cars. But you jump in and buckle up (ie, take *some* precautions) and maybe (or maybe not) install other safety features on your car. And then you get out on the road and go to work or whatever and you don't obsess about it (I hope!). Herpes is basically the same. We ensure our partners know the risks, and then we do what we can *within reason* to protect them, AND we allow them to make THEIR OWN choices about how they want to approach their risks. And then we live life, share towels and showers and the like, and *hopefully* don't let H run our lives.


(((HUGS))) - Hope this helps you to feel less "judged" ... I can tell you that people on here are some of the most supportive you will find ... but those of us who have been around awhile sometimes jump on inaccurate info a little hard because we just don't want to get people into the unnecessary hyper-fearful, self deprecating, and hopeless place that some go to when they see anything that makes them feel that they are "unclean" or whatever ... and your post kinda came across that way. The responders meant well... and I hope any that read this will try to become more aware of *how* they respond in the future... :)

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Thanks so much for your explaination. No, I'm only a few years into this and so I know alot more than I did then, but obviously still learning more too. I appreciate your tone and how you explain rather than try to reprimand me. I wish I had met someone like you years ago :)...I will check out some of your other posts... take care.

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@shiningstar. I'm sorry if you felt judged. I'll admit the inspection of genitals portion of your post struck me as really harsh. Being herpes positive is hard enough, hearing people say we can't have sex without a prior inspection is a little depressing.


(I'm jumping on in between shifts so I don't have time to get in depth with my responses, but I'll try to not be so abrupt in the future.)


@WCSDancer2010..gawd girl, make me want to hide my toothbrushes now LOL

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Thank you everyone so much for the responses and the wealth of knowledge you are all able to provide from so many different perspectives and backgrounds. I appreciate everyone's input. I would never feel it necessary to check his genitals as I know that he wants to protect me from catching H as much as I do myself. I trust him completely and I know that he would never risk my health by sleeping with me when he felt symptomatic. I feel that H has brought our relationship even closer as it has forced us to trust each other even more. I think that he also feels closer to me as I made it a non-issue and I can tell that he appreciates that I am non-judgmental or freaked out by it. I guess the best thing I can is just continue to support him and show him love while he continues to come to terms with this. Although it has been a year since the diagnosis, I can tell that he has felt very alone with it and isolated during this time. That is the hardest part for me; knowing that he was suffering alone. Thanks again everyone. He is not alone anymore. Much love.

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@pickaname I'm so glad to hear you are feeling closer to each other as a result of this. I can totally relate to that, too. A few months ago, I had my first experience of someone responding to my disclosure with total acceptance and it was such a gift. He had no idea it would be meaningful to me in that way, but I'll never forget it. Until then, I wondered if I would ever have a spontaneously fun and fulfilling physical relationship again. That first experience of being accepted so fully gave me hope and restored my confidence.

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