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For short-term relationships is there ever reason for guilt after disclosing if partner accepts it?

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Since I've been diagnosed with HSV-2 my thoughts have vacillated from thinking - it's really no big deal, the medical community doesn't even treat it like a serious problem, why should it be my responsibility to disclose this in casual encounters when the odds of transmission are so low? - to the opposite attitude of, but what if, even if I do disclose and they're ok with it, I pass it on to them, and then a long-term relationship doesn't work out? Is it fair for me to risk passing it on if I don't even have the intention of long-term monogamy?


I have traveled a fair bit, and one of the exciting things about traveling is the possibility of sexual encounters on the road. the thing is, people are often so carefree in travel environments (like hostels, bars for backpackers, etc.) that they might not care too much about herpes at the time... But, am I taking advantage of that, if I disclose to them and they're still interested in moving forward sexually, or am I free from culpability as long as I disclose? The other thing I think about is how attitudes towards herpes may differ in many of the countries I like to visit in Central/South America. but is that because those countries just don't have the stigma America has developed over a generally mild medical problem, or is it because those countries are of a lower socioeconomic status than the US? My experience is that women in the Dominican Republic (I can't comment on men), for example, are generally fairly sexually liberal, and when I think to some of the past encounters I've had there I'm really not sure herpes would've been a dealbreaker for them, even for a short-term relationship. But the question for me is whether that's a cultural thing that's fair for me to use to my advantage, or the fact the DR is poorer/may have less sexual education (to be clear, this is complete speculation), which makes me wonder if it's exploitative to use to my advantage. I just feel guilty about the possibility of passing it on for what for me might just be a fling... although I'm opening to it becoming more, I'm not sure I'm ready for a long-term relationship and it makes me wonder if I need to feel guilty even when I disclose and the women is ok with it based on what has a pretty low chance of occurring...

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Hi there, just posted on your other thread and thought I'd drop a response in here too :)

Hmmm.... Gotta say @dani -no judgement- but I have a slight problem with the question your raising here on a socio-economic level. Especially as you yourself seem to see it as exploiting a vulnerable demographic to suit your own agenda.


Disclosure shouldn't just involve the statement "I have herpes." Ideally it should be followed up with the truth about risks (however low due to meds/condoms etc)

Our lives have been changed irrevocably by non-disclosure and the general consensus here is that we want to give each other and those we get involved with the opportunity to make informed CHOICES. That should never, in my view, be determined by a certain group of people's lack of education on the matter. Or lack of care.

I would not want another individual to become HSV+ because I gave it to them knowing I was going to move on to another encounter soon after. How many times can that happen?

I find it hard to reason that you don't want commitment but are bothered by disclosure. Are you worried that disclosing and then having unprotected sex with people who are ignorant to stats and risks while you are, is morally wrong and exploitative?

@hippyherpy is a free-loving kind of guy but it is precisely because he is that he freely and comfortably discloses. Maybe get some idea of how he handles this on his Ladies Man thread :)


Being able to enjoy passion and spontaneity can happen with honesty and care too. All the women you come into contact with matter. Be it their ignorance or relaxed opinion, they are worthy of that disclosure AND protection. Wherever and whomever they are in the world.

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I appreciate your feedback @Miji69. Perhaps my questions are just projecting my own insecurities about some of the relationships I've had in the past with women of very different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds than my own. These are relationships that were important and meaningful to me and I hope to the women as well, but having STD compounds the fear that in the future I end up in an exploitative position because she comes from a circle in which STDs are not necessarily spoken about or considered a big deal. The converse of that, of course, is that some cultures simply don't stigmatize herpes as much as the US, not because of a lack of education but just because of different values. And I'm not really sure which one is more of the case in the Dominican Republic and other countries I've traveled, but I take your point that it's my job, as the herpes carrier, not just to inform them that I have it but to inform them of the risks and why it matters.


But the overall worry, I think, is not that I would be taking advantage of a vulnerable demographic, but that it's simply that it's unfair for me to potentially expose anyone to herpes, even with disclosure/their consent, if there aren't plans for a long-term relationship. I've read hippyherpy's thread and found it pretty inspiring, but there's this nagging voice in my head that no matter whether a woman agrees to the risks or not, that I'm being a horrible human being by even trying to convince them to take the risk without a plan for a future together. And the fact is that I am looking for relationships with women that last more than one night, but it usually takes me time even after having sex to get to that point of feeling committed to something really long-term. So it's creating this feeling of dissonance and anxiety where I feel like what I want may be something immoral.




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I have spent a lot of time researching exactly what the variables are in transmission because I don't think you can EVER ask someone to take the risk whether they are poor and ignorant or brilliant and well educated. It isn't the virus itself that is the problem, it's that nobody wants to get it because nobody else wants it either. Some of the variables can be controlled. In a long term study there was 1 incidence of infection in 223 discordant couples that *nearly always* wore condoms and Valtrex was taken daily. So I take Valtrex and use a condom and if you also avoid sex if there are symptoms or cuts/scrapes on either person from shaving or whatever, and avoid rough sex that could damage the delicate skin (think: lots of lube!) and facilitate transmission, I think the risk is really close to 0. Also it takes time to build up antibodies so if you were recently infected you might want to wait a year, that helps too! And another thing: Do all you can to keep your immune system very strong, eat an alkaline diet and get enough minerals, vitamine C, etc. You can google on this to learn what to do.

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Useful stats there from Bluebetty which should help but hey @dani... Quit being so tough on yourself! We are NOT lepers, we have a manageable skin condition which the above stats show give us every opportunity to live a normal happy life! I struggle too, as I've said but I'm trying hard not to allow myself to believe that I have no right to seek out relationships even if I find it a chore or draining at times. We are not dirty or contaminated, just unlucky. Remember, you are aware of what you have so you put potential partners in a better position than those who have no idea if they are carriers and those who don't disclose and someone willing to sleep with you would be willing to sleep with them. So how does that make YOU "immoral"??

We may be surprised how many people are willing and accepting from every corner of the earth, including those right on your doorstep, so to speak.

Use kind words to yourself my friend. What we think, we believe and that becomes what we are. Stay positive. Like @hippyherpy says a lot, and I'm trying to listen to that myself...It's not that big a deal!;)

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thanks @Bluebetty and @Miji69. as I said my thoughts have vacillated on this a lot - part of me thinks it's not a big deal, it shouldn't be a big deal - but that was especially true before I'd had any outbreak (I just got diagnosed a couple weeks ago and am having my first outbreak now). I know the first one is supposed to be the worst and so my feelings in the future may be related to how often/severe future outbreaks are, but experiencing these symptoms right now it's hard for me to feel great about the possibility of passing it on to anyone in the context of a short-term relationship, even taking the stigma aside. Those statistics help @Bluebetty, although I've read many different ones online and at the moment am a bit paranoid about how I will ever know for sure that I am not experiencing /about to experience an outbreak, given the fact that I've often in the past had little itches or bumps "down there" that weren't herpes. But maybe you are right that I should wait a year, or at least a long period of no outbreaks, before making that determination. one idea I've also had is that, for shorter-term relationships with girls, to suggest avoiding intercourse and simply sticking to oral sex, as I've read the odds of oral transmission for GSV-2 is very low and those that do catch it orally don't experience recurrences or shedding (which kind of makes it a nonissue).


my other thought, in relation to the concern of being "exploitative" of a certain group, is, herpes aside, that being a pretty introverted guy myself living in NYC, I've generally just found it easier to "hook up" and have short-term relationships while traveling out of the country (especially since I know some Spanish, which girls in Latin America find a huge turn on). and my temptation is to double down on that strategy given the fact that I suspect herpes is less of a big deal in these other countries. I don't think there's something inherently exploitative about using my being an American who knows some Spanish to my advantage while traveling, but there is just this question I'm haunted with now about whether a girl I meet would be enamored less by my personality than the possibility of being with an American guy and might expose herself to risk that she wouldn't with someone else local. so that's just a concern I'm working through.

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but - to @Miji69, I do appreciate the comforting words. the stigma is easy to internalize so it never will stop being helpful to hear someone counteract it. and you are right, that if I do disclose and my partner is willing to take the risk, they'd be taking less of a risk with me than another partner who was less forthright/didn't know they had it.

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