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Feeling very alone recently...

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Hey. Visited this site in the past, but just joined today. I'm a professional guy, early 50s, gay — pretty discreet about it — and never acted on my sexuality until about 5 years ago. Met someone I wanted to date last summer, so to be responsible, I got a full STD panel — never slept around much and was convinced I was "clean." I was devastated to learn I'm HSV2+ — and my potential relationship disappeared. Hit me hard. I did have a nasty oral infection about 4 years ago — which I now realize was my first and only outbreak — but no one at the time said, "This is HSV2, which is generally known as genital herpes." I suppose I was very naive. I had a root canal at the same time, and I attributed the infection to that. My immune system is compromised by a different, nonsexual condition — so I understand how I contracted herpes — but I was still shocked by the news.


After my diagnosis in July, I joined a paid site looking for support, but most guys there were only HIV+. Made one friend out of state, and we've become good friends — even visited each other a few times. For the last half of the year, I was feeling better about my life and didn't think much about having herpes. About a month ago, my friend discovered he was misdiagnosed. While we remain friends, he's moving on with his life — as he should. I like to think I'm emotionally mature, but I'm depressed — our common connection is gone and I feel more alone than ever. I've tried gay groups in my area in the past, but never fit in — don't think I'm "out" enough for them! (I'm pretty conservative in most regards) — and I'm burnt out in trying to find other gay friends. Not sure where I'm going with any of this — maybe I just need to vent. I suppose I'm realizing my best option is to lead an abstinent life — which has been true for a while — but at the same time, it makes me sad.


Sorry to be such a downer. I have a feeling my mood will improve once I post this...

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@TJNJ First of all, I'm so sorry you're feeling this way. I hope you'll spend some time looking over the success stories on this site and perhaps learning about how common HSV is.


Regarding more technical matters, if you think your herpes infection is oral, you may find it reassuring to know that oral HSV2 (which is oral herpes, not genital herpes) is much less likely to be transmitted to a partner than oral HSV1, genital HSV1 or genital HSV2. In most cases, oral HSV2 never recurs after the first outbreak and sheds asymptomatically approximately 1% of days per year. Additionally, if you have oral HSV2, you are largely protected from ever contracting genital herpes of either type if you don't already have genital herpes.


However, it sounds like you are only guessing that you have oral HSV2 and are not certain because they did not swab you at the time of the oral symptoms you mentioned. Other possibilities are that the incident you mentioned was unrelated to herpes, or perhaps it represented a newly acquired HSV1 infection which would look the same as an oral HSV2 infection, or maybe even represented an outbreak of a long established HSV1 infection that was triggered by the trauma of your dental work.


Most of the time, when someone contracts HSV2 genitally after already having an established HSV1 infection. they do not have symptoms noticeable enough to alert them to the fact that they have acquired genital herpes. In general, 80-90% of people are unaware they have genital herpes and this is even more likely among those who contract HSV2 on top of an existing HSV1 infection. So it could be that you have both oral HSV1 (which most adults have) and genital HSV2 (which lots of adults have, especially by the time they reach our age). By our age, almost all of our peers have HSV1, HSV2 or both. It is not a reason to segregate yourself from the general population.


I'm not a medical professional, just another person with HSV2, but the above is my understanding based on the research I've done since my own diagnosis about a year ago. Over the course of this year, I've encountered more acceptance than rejection and have had a lot of great sex. I promise it's possible.


Edit to add: You mentioned HIV, so I thought you should be aware that having HSV2 does increase vulnerability to contracting HIV. The figures I've seen have suggested the risk is increased either 2x or 3x.

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Thanks for the kind response. I'm definitely HSV1-. The panel I had confirmed this. And the hospital probably did swab when I had the throat infection years ago — I think the doctors just danced around how the infection was contracted, since I had the root canal simultaneously. I don't blame them — I was just shocked no one was more clear about the HSV2 diagnosis. I know there are many herpes viruses — I just didn't know until last July that mine was HSV2.

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Hi, @TJNJ....and welcome. No apologies needed for being a "downer." We've all been there. I asked for an STD panel about a year ago when I started seeing someone long-distance after my divorce. I was convinced I was "clean" and that it was just going to be a boring, routine thing. Like you, I was floored by the HSV2 diagnosis (plus HSV1). Since the long-distance fling and my ex-husband tested negative, it meant I'd had it for over 20 years and just had no idea. I have never felt so alone in my life. No one talks about it and I didn't know anyone who had it.


I haven't re-entered the dating world yet....just doing some post-divorce healing for now, but I'm finally starting to feel like I'm not going to be alone and celibate forever. Not by a long shot. :-) I'm so encouraged by the others on this site and their success stories.


I agree with optimist....I'd dig around a little more to see if you can find any evidence of the oral infection really being HSV2. It's possible it was totally unrelated and you're simply asymptomatic. Not everyone has a primary outbreak (I never did).


If there is one thing I would want to leave with you, it's this: you are not alone. Not only are you not alone in having herpes since there's 50 million of us in the U.S., but you're not alone in feeling like you're unlovable. *Everyone* has imperfections which they feel shame about. HSV just happens to have a ridiculously undeserved stigma associated with it. {hugs}

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Thanks again for the replies. I didn't write every detail of my initial infection and diagnosis, but I am 100% sure I have oral HSV2. I'm not questioning which type I have – I just came to share how alone I'm feeling recently. Thanks for sharing your stories with me.

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@TJNJ In that case, please understand that the majority of adults have oral herpes, most of whom contracted it as children. If it the the *type* that is making you feel isolated, please know that oral HSV2 sheds significantly less than oral HSV1. It is much less likely to be transmitted to a partner. I hope this may put your mind at ease.


I'm sorry you're feeling alone. I know that's a terrible feeling and I remember feeling that way when I was first diagnosed. I do hope you will spend some time looking at success stories, though more of them are focused on genital herpes. You will find that regardless of type or location, many people move on from the emotions of the initial diagnosis to feeling relatively "normal" again with active love lives and sex lives.

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