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Just found out I have oral hsv 1, losing my mind

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Hi everyone,


I just found out I have oral hsv 1, confirmed by blood test and had a recent cold sore on mouth. Completely devastated and depressed to say the least. I've spent a lot of time researching and I've seen stats for Americans that up to 90% of us will get this? But I've also seen as low as like 50%, can someone assist me with what the actual stats are? Also as someone who rarely ever dated much before this and already have confidence/depression issues, I can't imagine trying to have this conversation with someone I'm interested in....


I'm torn between that I shouldn't be too stressed since Im potentially apart of a majority of 70-80% of people, and also thoughts that my dating life is over since I'll be rejected because of stigmas. I'm lost here and feel as if I'll never be the same...

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@Dj5886 The stats you see vary because sometimes they are expressed as the average rate of infection in people across a wide age range. In those cases, very young people have a lower infection rate and older people have a higher rate so the number provided is really an average, such as "56% of 14-49 year olds" or something like that. Or sometimes it will be expressed as the percentage of people who have HSV1 by the time they reach adulthood (I assume that means 18, and think that number is something like 40%, though I don't recall exactly). The higher number you see quoted refers more to lifetime risk, meaning that almost everyone (something like 95% of people) will contract HSV1, HSV2 or both at some point during their lifetimes. (Rates of HSV1 are lower among people with HSV2, but almost everyone who does not have HSV2 will contract HSV1 at some point.)


One thing that may or may not be meaningful for you to know is that having oral HSV1 will provide significant protection from contracting genital HSV1. When people contract genital HSV1, it is almost always the case that they are not yet orally infected and therefore were vulnerable to contracting it genitally. As childhood rates of oral HSV1 decrease, cases of genital HSV1 increase. However, you are still vulnerable to contracting HSV2 which also becomes more and more common with age.


You are correct that oral HSV1 is very common, even among children, with a high infection rate between 6 months and 3 years old. A majority of adults have oral HSV1. It should not be a barrier to dating. I mean, I have genital HSV2 and it has barely affected my dating life, though there is a noticeable societal stigma. There is less stigma associated with oral HSV1. Not saying it should be that way, but just trying to set your mind at ease.

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Thanks optimist,


I'm still trying to wrap my head around this, I've also begun to see a therapist not just specifically because of this but after finding out I have hsv 1 it was kind of the last straw to get some help for depression/anxiety, etc. anyways, I'm still terrified of starting to date someone and having to disclose this for fear of their reaction. Unless the person truly thought this could be something long term, why would they take the risk unless theyve had a symptom before?!?! Am I just assuming the worst will happen for the rest of my life as far as dating, or do people really not care that much and I'm freaking myself out?!?

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I can't help but feeling like I screwed up by finding out for sure, even though it's the right thing to do and now disclosing to people is the right thing. Even though almost everyone will probably get a cold sore once in their life, not care and it's a non event. Really need some positivity/hope if possible!

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Hi @Dj5886, I think we can all relate to sometimes wishing we had never learned we have HSV. Especially (as was in my case) if we sought out testing when we weren't having any symptoms! No, you won't ever be the same, but I don't mean that in a negative way. I have grown more in the past year as a result of my diagnosis than I ever thought possible. Herpes be damned.....I would never give that up to go back to my pre-diagnosis dream.


As optimist said, oral HSV1 is extremely common. And it seems--to me--to have much less stigma associated with it than genital herpes. Given the abundance of success stories on this forum alone, I would say without hesitation that your dating life is not over!!! :-) How another person reacts to you having HSV1 (or any number of things, STDs or otherwise), is not about you. It's about them.


For me, I think the scariest part of my diagnosis was the loss of control. Not only can I not eliminate the risk of transmission, but I also can't control another person's perception of me with herpes. And that eventually translated to.....I can't control other people's perceptions of me, period!! I could just as easily be rejected for something totally unrelated.....I'm 5'11, I'm an atheist, I chose not to have children, I don't eat meat, I chose a profession that isn't glamorous and I have HSV1 and HSV2. Oh well! Their loss. The important thing is that I like myself. And for the first time in a long time, I am hopeful that I will one day be loved exactly as I am. I hope that for you too. {hugs}

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