An organization and podcast connecting people navigating herpes stigma to support resources including community, tools for sexual health communication, and therapy.
Despite the initial shame, guilt, name-calling, jokes, and fear related to disclosure, my STI presented me with a chance to love myself more deeply. It gave me a chance to sit with myself, who I thought myself to be, who I thought I was going to become, and who I really was.
About one in five people in the United States over age 12 — approximately 45 million individuals — are infected with HSV-II, the virus that causes genital herpes. Around 50-80 percent of the adult population has oral herpes, which most people contract through nonsexual contact in childhood.
I realized that I was uncomfortable associating myself with genital herpes. Will people think I have it? Why else would someone write about genital herpes and risk that association if they didn’t have it, right? So I pressed on, putting myself at the center of an itty-bitty social experiment that resulted in some pretty big stuff.
I'm 20 and have been with my partner for about two and a half years. We have a great relationship and are happy together. However, two years ago, when we first started sleeping together, I contracted genital herpes, even though we used condoms. I was a virgin before I slept with him so I knew it had come from him....
I had unprotected sex (mistake #1) with an older guy who I don't know at all (mistake #2), but he didn't have any sores on his penis, and we only had sex for like 25 seconds, if that. If he didn't ejaculate in me and didn't have any sores, could it still be likely that I get a STD from him? He said he doesn't have any STDs, but people lie, and I'm obviously nervous....
I have genital herpes. Those people you see in the Valtrex commercials, running down a beach with five beautiful women chasing after them? Totally me.
There are instances in which condom use alone - or the use of dental dams and gloves -- cannot offer the level of STI protection they can in other instances, with STIs which are transmitted not via fluid exchange, but by skin-to-skin contact: namely two of the most common STIs, HPV and Herpes.