A few years back I had a brief relationship with a guy who had an STI. He didn’t tell me he had one until half way through the first time we had sex. Fortunately I got myself tested afterwards and I didn’t get it. But I was just wondering if you did have an STI, especially one like herpes, which can not ever be cured, When would be the best time and way to tell your partner? I really don’t want another person going through what I went through.
@mak_trouble891 Wow, that’s an interesting situation. Good thing you got yourself tested! I think the best time would be before sex when you’re both fully clothed (not in a make out session or just prior to doing the deed) and of course explain the STI, the treatment and how to avoid transmitting it. What do you think?
@mak_trouble891 I’m just going to leave his article here, because this girl has a positive outlook oon disclosure and killing stigma: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and-love/dating-with-herpes
Then I’m going to tag @nurse_nettie in for some facts and figures and myth-busting.
I totally agree @nickipower. I feel as though if I had the choice my opinion of the person would have been different. I understand why they didn’t tell me at first, but I felt betrayed and scared as a result. If they had told me before, I most likely still would have slept with them, but with the knowledge been more careful.
Awesome, thanks @msbluestreak! great article too 🙂
@mak_trouble891 You’re not alone in this situation! I’ve talked to lots of people on both sides of that scenario who are really worried about what herpes will mean for them & their relationship. There is so much stigma around herpes! The people who have the diagnosis are really worried about telling new partners & the people who find out their partner has it are terrified about getting it themselves!
The reality is, herpes is usually a mild skin condition — in fact, most people who have it, don’t even realise they have it! There are a lot of myths about herpes, but I’m here to tell you that herpes is incredibly common (more people have herpes than don’t!), rarely severe, and for those who do get bothersome symptoms, very treatable with medication!
The New Zealand Herpes foundation is another great resource I often recommend. They have some good tips about talking about herpes with sexual partners too!
Hey @nurse_nettie if your partner has herpes but doesn’t tell you for years, because in their mind they’ve “never had an outbreak”, what are the chances of you actually getting it?
I guess I’d love to hear other peoples opinions too – is it okay to not disclose if your chances of spreading are tiny?
@kindofsquishy I would want to know, I think. Even if they never have an outbreak the whole time we were together I’d like to know. But, at the same time I can imagine it would be a really difficult conversation to have with a prospective or current partner. It just makes it a bit nicer to know your own risks, to evaluate whether or not you feel comfortable with not using barrier protection with the person etc.
Yeah there’s a part of me that completely agrees with you @aunt_flo, and even from like an informed consent angle I think it’s probably really important – however I’m also a mad stress head so I feel like in cases like this ignorance might be bliss? I don’t know. If I don’t know about it, then I can’t get mad about not being told, and if my chances of actually contracting anything are slim, then maybe I don’t want to know….
Oh that’s definitely true @kindofsquishy. I think you’d need to trust your partner a lot for that. Maybe a risk that they think is small, you might think of as big and vice versa?
I have HSV-1 but haven’t had a cold sore in years, so this is a good question. I do disclose with new partners if there is oral sex involved, so they can make an informed choice but I often wonder what the chances are of them catching it.
@kindofsquishy it’s an interesting question! I’m all about communication & consent as the foundation of any relationship. I also think the stigma about herpes is really unfair! From a medical perspective, it’s a minor infection & the fact is MOST PEOPLE HAVE HERPES! 70-90% of the adult population will have Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), but the vast majority will never get symptoms on either the mouth or genitals so they don’t get diagnosed!
When you inform a partner you have HSV, what you’re actually telling them is you’re one of the majority – not someone marked for life by a rare & terrible illness! The stigma of the diagnosis can definitely have a profound effect on people though. That’s why we need to start talking about herpes differently. For a fresh perspective, check out what this twenty-something woman has to say about living her life with genital herpes!
Ok, so now that I’ve dispelled some popular misconceptions… yes, you can decrease your chance of passing genital herpes on to a partner (assuming they don’t already have it) by: 1) avoiding sex when you have symptoms, 2) using a condom for penetrative sex all the time, & 3) for those who get frequent symptoms, taking antiviral medication every day.
Hope that helps!
@nurse_nettie has taken care of the medical and stigma side, so I’m going to add in the personal experience side. This lovely author, Ella Dawson, speaks very eloquently on why telling can be a positive thing:
So true @aunt_flo, hadn’t thought of that! Making the assumption that everybody feels and thinks exactly the same way that you do is a recipe for disaster.
That’s really interesting, @nurse_nettie, does that mean people with coldsores already have HSV and thus can’t get genital herpes? Or is it more complicated than that…
@msbluestreak that’s actually quite a lovely article. Thanks for sharing!
The short answer is no, you can still get genital herpes even if you have cold sores.
The longer answer is, there are two types of HSV that cause genital herpes: HSV 1 and HSV 2. Cold sores are almost always cause by HSV 1 and since herpes tends to stay in the first place you got it, having cold sores on your mouth means it’s very unlikely you’ll ever get genital herpes caused by HSV 1. You can still get genital herpes caused by HSV 2.
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