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Feeling Shame After Failing to Disclose

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By way of background, I have had herpes for over 30 years and take a daily suppressant (acyclovir). My ex-husband and I had unprotected sex throughout our marriage but he never contracted it. I haven't had an outbreak in a very long time.


Last night, after several drinks, I had protected (condom) sex with a date without disclosing my status. I had not planned on having sex. I know I exercised poor judgment. But I also know this is not an excuse and the choice to accept the risk was his, not mine. I will also note that he was prepared to have unprotected sex, did not ask me any questions, or offer up his own sexual history.


I am filled with shame and seek feedback from the forum.

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The right thing to do is always just tell them even after, I find it interesting now a days how people are willing to have unprotected sex with people w/o even mentioning hiv and STDs , he probaly would have been okay with it who knows, because he was taking a risk for everything if you think about it ...

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Thank you for your calm responses. I have an appointment with a new gyn to discuss my status and the information I have read on this and other sites. I had always thought that taking a daily suppressive, using condoms, and avoiding sex during outbreaks meant there was no risk of transmission, a proposition that was "confirmed" by my 30-year history with my ex and that is still adhered to by some people I know who have the virus. But according to everything I've read, the risk of transmission was about 1% or less, which is not much but more than zero. While that risk is very low, it wasn't mine to take and that is what I am struggling with. But I also wonder if by disclosing after the fact, I would be giving this man tremendous anxiety over an improbably low risk of infection.

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You are right, you did take away someone else's right to consent.

It might not have seemed like a big deal at the time, but it sure was.

It's okay though. You can and should still disclose.

He might be mad, but at least you will give him the chance to get tested.

You don't have to maintain contact after you disclose, but offering support might be a good thing to do. That is, if he doesn't get threatening or verbally abusive.


Then, realize that disclosure is an absolute priority above all else. Failing to disclose adds guilt and shame to sex. And nobody deserves to feel that way, especially not you and not your partners. Sex should either be just a lot of fun, or just not happen.

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I don’t know if I totally agree with all the above responses...

You failed, you made a mistake, move on.

I don’t think going back is necessary if he was a one night stand, and he was just at much failing to ask about your std status. Sadly even when asked people lie to avoid stigma, at least you are not one of them.

If you’re seeing him again, absolutely disclose.

I say move on...consider it a lesson. If he caught it, he just got his lesson too.


I know this isn’t a popular response so I’ll excuse myself now

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I will be disclosing when I see him again in a week's time. In the meanwhile I visited my doc who is running a full STD panel. She shared some interesting points, like she has it to; that a large part of her practice is currently devoted to caring for women like me (recently divorced after a long term marriage) who are addressing STDs as they venture back into the dating world; and that the medical community no longer differentiates between HSV1 and HSV2 as an STD. In other words, herpes is herpes is herpes. If my partner has ever had a cold sore, then he also has herpes. If he's been with at least 4 women, then there is a good chance that he was already exposed. There is no "safe" sex, but if you follow the guidelines everyone on this site already knows (daily suppressant, condoms, and no sex during prodome or OB), my gyn said the risk of transmission for a discordant couple is "minimal." We are in the era of "safer sex."

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