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Struggling with people thinking that you weren't practicing safe sex

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I've noticed a lot lately that so many people I have encountered have had FAR more sexual encounters than myself , some rarely using protection, and either not knowing they have H or really don't have H, while I've only had 5 sexual partners, and have always been diligent about getting checked and using protection, and am the one to end up with this STD that is so stigmatized. I know I am not alone, but it is so frustrating feeling like you were the one the be careless , and "clearly didn't use protection" to prevent this from happening, robbing you of being able to explore more sexually. So many people are under the impression that condoms will protect you from EVERYTHING, or that you only need to worry about birth control .... It's hard losing your ability to explore sexually because of H. Trying to remain optimistic

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@Akin I agree the lack of education is very frustrating. The stigma is particularly upsetting. Genital herpes is common, even among people who've had very few partners (for instance, in the U.S., 19% of 14-49 year old girls/women who have had 2-4 partners are HSV2+). But please know that having herpes does not mean you can no longer explore sexually. If you want to do that, you can. It is still an option. That isn't just my personal experience. I know Terri Warren has said that over the decades she's spent researching HSV and working with clients, it is her experience that a majority of prospective partners are accepting of those who disclose genital herpes to them.

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  • 1 year later...

Thank you for your response, @optimist. This response comes very, very late. Hopefully you are still on this site.


I suppose these are just the assumptions that I have, and it is my own mentality I have to change. It is for sure the stigma that is the hardest part. I feel like there are far more people than we know that probably do have some form of H, but without knowing, and not knowing how common it is, people think it's only sexually promiscuous or irresponsible people that get it. And that not the case. I have practiced safe sex, and been responsible about getting checked, but it still happened.


From your experience, what have you found as the best way to approach the subject with a prospective partner? How do you approach people talking about it negatively? And what finally made you feel "ok" about having it? I'm trying to finally start taking the steps to have a "normal" sex life, and feel comfortable talking about it. Up until now I've been mostly just avoiding dating and getting close to people, to avoid having to talk about it. But it's obviously going to get me nowhere .


I hope to hear back from you :)

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How I approach it with a prospective partner is in a very matter-of-fact way in the course of discussing safe sex expectations and overall STI status. I don't attach a shameful narrative, nor do I try to convince them they should not care, I just state the facts of my situation.


How I approach people talking about it negatively...you mean when I've disclosed? Depends on the reaction. Nobody has ever been mean, but I had one experience of someone majorly melting down with anxiety because he had not previously realized condoms did not fully protect against herpes and was suddenly alarmed by his own sexual history. Fortunately, we had not had sex, so I dealt with this by reassuring him he had not encountered any risk with me and advising that we should not have sex. In another case, someone reacted by stating that whoever gave it to me should be ashamed of themselves and I took that opportunity to educate them on herpes and also make it clear that I'm not ashamed and would not go back and live life differently to avoid it, even if I could. Another thing that helped was just experience. Having sex with people who were accepting and truly did not care. After that, people who reacted negatively just seemed like incompatible partners to me.


What made me feel okay about having it was educating myself about it and talking through the feelings. Reminding myself that we're essentially talking about a virus that has the potential to cause cold sores in one location or another and that cold sores should not dictate my life choices. It sometimes helps me to replace the word herpes with "cold sores" when I hear someone say something really dramatic about herpes. That always helps me tease out how much of the issue is stigma. It is almost always about stigma, not reality. I also made a choice to go on daily antivirals. That helped with my own anxiety about potential transmission.

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@lostandconfused99 Condoms reduce but do not eliminate risk. Without condoms, male-to-female transmission risk is considerably higher than female-to-male transmission risk. However, condoms do a better job of reducing male-to-female risk than female-to-male risk. HSV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact and condoms do not fully prevent skin-to-skin contact. HPV works the same way.

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Thank you. Like I said, I’m definitely going to have to do a lot more research. I hate having to do it, so I keep putting it off. Almost like if I don’t research it, I don’t have to admit it’s really happening to me. J have disclosed that I am H+ to no one and am mortified of people finding out. I don’t date, so I’m good in that area. And I don’t “hook up”, so I’m good there too. This is all just K much for me still.

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I can relate to this post. I was in a monogamous relationship for many years and the first person I was intimate with after my divorce was the one who infected me. My best friend (who has had a large number of partners) even said to me when I was diagnosed, "This is so unfair! Statistically, it should have been me." Now I am attempting to date again, but it really is heartbreaking. Some people are ignorant or awful, and no I don't want to date those kinds of people anyway, but it still hurts. My most recent disclosure, however, hurt the most. He didn't shame me and he really wouldn't have cared - except that he has a chronic illness that wrecks his immune system enough already and if he were to contract HSV from me, it could potentially make things worse. That one just made me angry at the universe. He's a wonderful guy, and he'll make a wonderful friend, but I wanted to see if he could be more.

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What made me feel okay about having it was educating myself about it and talking through the feelings. Reminding myself that we're essentially talking about a virus that has the potential to cause cold sores in one location or another and that cold sores should not dictate my life choices.


^^^^^^Love this!! :)

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