Did I live with this for 15 years?

Hi there. 29F with HSV 1 on my genitals. I’ve lived with this for 15 years. The boy I lost my virginity to had a cold sore on his mouth, I didn’t realise. I didn’t know I got a Herpes test and was positive. I wasn’t educated. He went down on me, and I ended up contracting it. I have never had an outbreak in my mouth; I was positive in my at-home STI Lab Test result, but this is my biggest blessing. I’ve only had a few outbreaks in the 15 years I’ve carried this.

I have just recently started to process the shame and embarrassment. I felt like my world was ending for a long time. Like no one would want me, love me, care for me. I lost myself in alcohol, drugs, and casual hookups. I disclosed every time. 9/10 times, my partners never cared. Usually, I practised safe sex, but when I was in long-term relationships, we didn’t. I just recently met someone and decided to get an STI Home test, and I disclosed it before we had sex. He asked me a few questions, and I was honest. He disclosed to me that he gets cold sores on his lips. (which, honestly, would have been nice to know before we kissed. If I disclose, so should you, as it’s the same thing. But a discussion will take place at a different time.)

Honestly, the more I have this conversation, the easier it becomes.

I wasn’t as nervous or terrified of his response this time because I’ve worked to heal that shame and embarrassment with my therapist. It’s awful, and it’s sad, and it’s fucked. It just is. However, they estimate that over half of the population has some HSV Herpes Type 1 test. I take medication for suppression, my “just in case” pill, and it gives me a huge sense of relief, especially when I am sexually active and disclose to my partner.

I’m a woman that’s had it for about 15 years. I have never given it to anyone. STI Home test kits are easily available. And I only have outbreaks a couple of times a year and know not to have sex then. I’ve had multiple partners in the last 15 years, and only one guy freaked out when I told him he didn’t want to have sex, which is fine. That tells me he’s not in it for me. My partner of 9 years has no problem with it and has never contracted it. And we do not use protection.

Here’s the thing: herpes is not going to harm anyone.

It’s not going to kill anyone. My Herpes lab test results are clear. It’s the stigma about it that causes the shame. And fuck that. Herpes does not say anything about the kind of person you are.

When you tell a partner you have it (before ever having sex with them, of course), if they like you and are in it for you, they’re not going to care. You have to be safe about it. My thoughts are with you. I felt the same way you did during the first year or so.

And I can relate to you feeling hypocritical about not wanting to be with a partner who has HSV. I feel the same, and that in itself brings me a lot of guilt and shame. But those mind games are damaging to you. I like to think that maybe now if a future partner disclosed to me, I’d have more understanding, empathy, passion, and ease. Or maybe it wouldn’t be a big deal because they have it, too, in a mutual STI test! Or maybe it doesn’t matter when you’re invested in someone, as there is SO MUCH MORE to you as a person than some shit virus.

It’s hard to look at the glass half full when it feels half empty.

Don’t stress yourself by the possible scenarios; it won’t do you any good, but work your body and mind up. Get a Herpes Home Test and be free. I promise this is not a death sentence to your love life, regardless of how it feels. This does not mean you won’t or can’t be intimate with someone again. This does not diminish your worth, your self, or who you are as a person.

I find some fucked up comfort in knowing more than half of the population has it. You are not alone. 

I contracted it, and I feel like my life is over sometimes.

24M here. Back in early September, I had consensual sex with a girl who gave me genital herpes. I had a Genital Herpes Type 1 Test. It was a stupid mistake on my part, stemming from almost a year-long dry spell and the burning desire to feel sexually validated. Luckily, I’m part of the majority who doesn’t have outbreaks (which means I don’t get blisters or lesions), but after a year of STI testing the dating market with little luck, I feel like HSV2 is a death sentence to my love life. You’re supposed to disclose to potential sexual partners. Still, I’m too nervous to even get to that point with anyone because not only am I scared of rejection, but I’d also feel like a hypocrite because if the tables were turned, I’d probably say no, too. Also, it’s hard to find other people with HSV2 because nobody tells anyone they have it.

Life has been the same since my diagnosis – I go out with friends, exercise, and work in the office – but the light inside me has quietly gone off. All I want to do in this world is share my life with someone I love, and I’m just really nervous about the road ahead.