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Monday, April 16, 2012

461

The Perks of Herpes

We were naked. He was hard. I'd always considered this moment the best time to disclose, because rejection seemed less likely when the possibility of a good lay was hot-breath close. Though maybe once we're naked, it's too late.

I shut my legs and stacked my knees to one side. “I have to tell you something,” I said.

Prefaces, everyone knows, are never good.

“What?” he asked.

I took a breath, let it out. I hate this part, I said to myself, possibly aloud. And then, definitely aloud: “I have herpes.”

Silence. The word had to be chased with something.

“But before you freak out,” I said as casually as I could, “let me tell you about it.”

“The transmission risks are tiny,” I started, and they are: about 2-4 percent from woman to man, depending on condom use. My risks are likely even lower; I got genital herpes from oral sex, and HSV-1 is even harder to transmit to a partner’s genital region. “And one in four or five people have it, even though most people don’t know since a standard STI test doesn’t test for it,” I said.

Silence. Wasn’t this dirty talk?

“It’s much harder for a woman to give it to a man, and to my knowledge, I’ve never given it to anyone,” I finished.

In short, herpes hasn’t had such a significant impact on my life. Except for having to have this conversation. I thought if I kept it light and perfunctory, his reaction might not be so bad.

More silence.

Ever since I had said the word, his hand had frozen on my stomach, started to sweat. It was the only body part in the bed getting wet. He reclaimed his hand and rested it on his chest.

“Oh,” he said.

I knew from experience to back out first. I untwined my legs and sat up, hopped off the bed, and picked up my underwear. “Don’t worry about it,” I said. “I’m going to go.”

“Wow, um,” he stuttered. “I mean, thanks for telling me. You’re a good person, obviously. I’m not sure I would have done the same in your shoes.”

“No?” I asked, just as surprised at his honesty as he was at mine. “Then I’m glad I’m going.”

I snatched the bra he had struggled to free and the top I lustfully tore off minutes ago. This was always the weirdest part: negotiating a leave. I’d worry about how to escape this foreign part of Brooklyn later.

“Well. Bye then,” I said, stepping toward him, him, a body shellshocked on the bed. A hug? Do I shake his hand? I took a step back.

“Should I go with you?” he asked, motionless. “Do you know how to get to the train?”

***

I got it two years ago. Just another house party hookup, with a casually consistent partner for whom I felt nothing. There was no sex that night, and I was practically a virgin.

Still, I had always been boy crazy, craved penetration from the moment I first learned how good a finger felt. But sex? What did I know of sex? The single unit of sex-ed at my private high school consisted of a PowerPoint presentation given by a dance teacher, whom none of us presumed to have ever been screwed in her life. Images of worst-case scenario, untreated venereal diseases were projected on the whiteboard, and we girls let out disgusted squeals. This is what happens when a penis meets a vagina, the presentation seemed to scream. I’m never having sex, I remember whispering to my neighbor, who, wide-eyed, nodded in agreement.

Pictures of the clap danced in my head whenever I had penetration to consider, even in college. So I made a sort of ill-informed compromise with my sexual cravings: everything but. Until nearly the end of college, I still hadn’t had a dick inside of me, but I’d had plenty of tongues.

Like he had many times before, the boy from the party went down on me. It was rough, and it was hot.

Right away, the scene of the crime was burning, sore, but nothing I hadn't experienced before. But then the next morning, it was swollen and worse. On the third day, panicked, I called up my college’s health center to book an appointment.

“What will you be coming in for?” the receptionist asked. I may have been paranoid, but his was the young, frat-boy voice of a student.

“Um, for women’s health,” I said.

“Can you be more specific?”

“Well...” I started. This wasn’t the time for delicacy. “My clitoris is really sore and inflamed.”

“Oh. What time can you come in today?”

The exam room was sparkling and sterile; the stirrups cold. The nurse, a bespectacled woman with short hair and a slight waddle, delved into the center of my spreadeagle. A few latex-fingered pokes later, she emerged. “Well,” she said lightly after I had tied my paper gown, “it looks like someone was a little overzealous down there!” I thought she might give me a high-five.

“Do you think I have an STD?” I asked.

“I don’t think so,” she said. The symptoms don’t usually pop up so fast. This would surely go away in a few days. “Come see me again if things get worse,” she said, shooing me out the door.

That night, I told my roommate my wild fear: that I had herpes. “You don’t have herpes!” she squealed emphatically. “There’s no way. You’re too pretty to have herpes!”

Overnight, a crop of red sores invaded me. Hysterical, I called my nurse, who ordered a cab for me. “Is there someone you could bring with you?”

My roommate waited outside. I could barely spread my legs in the stirrups this time — partly from the pain, mostly because I didn’t want to hear what I knew was coming.

The nurse took a half-second look and sighed. “Well, it looks like you do have herpes, you poor thing.”

“But I didn’t even have sex!” I wailed, tears streaming down my face. “What am I going to do?” The nurse tried in vain to console me: patting my hand, then giving me an awkward hug. Finally, she told me I needed to calm down so I wouldn’t scare everyone in the building.

“It’s not a death sentence,” she said flatly. “It’s not like I’m telling you you have HIV.”

This is a death sentence, I thought. This is the end of my love life.

***

There are fenced-in corners on the Internet for people like me. Single with herpes? Try STDmatch.net, or positivesingles.com. This was my future, I thought immediately after being diagnosed. Over and over again, my Google searches reinforced the burning shame of having herpes. Even OkCupid had turned on my new quarantined clan. In their dating persona test, one of the questions reads “If you have any STI’s, please go here.” The link opens a competing online dating site.

If I felt stigmatized by my computer, how many hundreds of exponents worse would it be to tell someone I cared about, face to face? Disclosure sounded impossible. I’d just join a nunnery, or maybe devote my sexless lifetime to a more constructive pursuit, like academia or woodworking. Deep down, I knew I couldn’t be strong enough to take the type of rejection that I figured was in store for me. “Do I really have to tell every single partner for the rest of my life?” I had asked my nurse. She looked at me squarely, raised her eyebrows. “Yes,” she said.

I polled my closest friends, who varied in their advice. One encouraged me not to tell. The odds were too low to even consider it a big deal, she said, especially if I never have another outbreak. (I haven’t.)

It certainly seemed unfair. So many people have herpes and HPV and gonorrhea without ever knowing it. But I knew deep down that I’d want to disclose to my partners. There was no point in building a relationship, no matter how brief, on omission.

With the existential and physical crisis of herpes on my mind, suddenly, I heard everyone talking about it, the way everyone always seems to be using a word you just learned. I flipped on the TV the day of my diagnosis, and the queen from The Queen was having her royal gynecological exam. (Spoiler alert: everything down there was in proper order.) Months later, during a visit home, my father: “What’s the difference between love and herpes?” he joked one night. “Herpes lasts forever.”

***

Eventually, the virus that lay dormant inside of me slayed my fear of sex. I had educated myself about STIs and the medicines available to fight them; the whiteboard images of unchecked disease were erased. But disclosure was a bitch.

The first time I told a man, I couldn’t help but cry. “I’m so sorry,” he said. “Do you want to be alone? I’m gonna go.” He jumped into his jeans and out the door.

The second time, we — a different he — were stoned.

“Wait, what?” he said. “I don’t know what to say. I’m having a hard time processing this information right now. Let’s just fuck.” He was bleary eyed and hazy, the sex jabby and inhuman.

The Conversation continued to ruin my life after dark; disclosure brought the othering I had dreaded. But wait a minute! I thought. I’m still desirable. Men still eagerly come to my bed. Down there, I looked and felt the same as I always had.

Even if my male peers had been forged by the same awful sex-ed that I had, surely I meant enough to them to at least do some research before rejecting me, right?

That’s when I realized I was picking the wrong men.

Before herpes, I didn’t think about my body much. But the virus had jolted me into self-awareness. I ate better. I exercised more. I felt more fragile and powerful and worthy of careful handling than ever. Herpes, oddly, did not turn me into damaged goods. Instead, it became a filter for expendable men in my life.

And then one day at the office I met him, a tall, dark-haired, sunkissed drink of coworker water. It was an instant workplace romance.

Thanks to herpes, I took things slow, until the temptation to make things NSFW grew too strong.

We finally kissed: in his apartment, by the fish tank, his room steps away. “I have to tell you something...” I began. He didn’t know what to say, but held me tight throughout our first sleepover.

“I’ve thought about it,” he said the next day. “You’re worth the risk.” Our first real date was to the testing center, where we got checked for everything else. As we waited for our results, we giggled conspiratorially, stuffing little packets of lube from the fishbowl into our pockets.

That day I discovered the ultimate turn-on: two negative tests, and one man who didn’t care about the test the doctor didn’t give.

We had fantastic sex that night. For the first time since getting herpes, I felt like a normal girl in normal puppy love.

I moved away and we broke up. But heartened by my first post-herpes relationship, disclosing became less of a chore. I ditched the tears, shortened the speech, and started finding men who said things like, “I still can’t wait to fuck you” and “So?” My next boyfriend, to my surprise and delight, disclosed his own herpes to me.

***

Telling people about it still isn’t easy or fun, but it’s my own magic Hogwarts-esque sorting hat. If a guy freaks out, he’s not meant to be in my house.

Or I in his.

“Yes,” I told the Brooklyn boy coolly as I walked to his door. “I know where the train is.” I didn’t; it was the first lie I had told all night. But as I dashed down his stairs and into the night, I felt exhilarated. Here was someone I had kissed, dated, and genuinely liked. How quickly I could have fallen in love, only to find out later that he couldn’t tolerate my relatively benign disease — and that I couldn’t trust him to disclose to me, had the tables been turned.

In a world full of infinite partner choices, herpes had narrowed mine to the understanding, the open minded, the risk takers. I am now confined to partners who think my awesomeness eclipses my cellular flaw — so instead of killing my love life, herpes has weirdly deepened it.

Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing to be stuck with forever, I thought as I found the entrance to the train, stepped aboard, and headed home, alone.

 

Photo by Philip Lange, via Shutterstock.

461 Comments / Post A Comment

thebestjasmine

Pieces like this (and the Girls post earlier) make me so happy that The Hairpin exists. Really wonderful, thank you for sharing this.

PistolPackinMama

@thebestjasmine Once again I have to remind you this is an inoffensive slumber party? Really, ladies. I am so disappointed in you all, with your talking about difficult stuff and stuff.

Nicole Cliffe

@PistolPackinMama What if this detracts from our relentless likability??? (<3 u, HSV Positive Lady)

Nicole Cliffe

@Nicole Cliffe Oh, and you stay classy, OK Cupid. Seriously??

PistolPackinMama

@Nicole Cliffe I guess we'll have to slut shame HSV-positive Lady so she goes away and doesn't impose her complex life experiences on our cotton-candy festival over here.

(<3 u, too, Lady)

wharrgarbl

@Nicole Cliffe That was the worst line. Like, just, holy shit, OKCupid. You are horrible.

John Smith@facebook

@thebestjasmine Yes std's are great, plz stfu.

Charlotte White@facebook

Really wonderful story. May I ask the permission to share it to my blog http://www.herpesdatingsitefree.com?

Herpeslove

@thebestjasmine Living with Herpes is really hard, especially when you are a single. According to a report from the official Herpes singles dating site HerpesPal.com, 98% of its members who used to be on a general dating site to find the love and support were rejected by others. No ethnic limitation. That could be the reason that why it is so popular and now has more than 730,000 members and most of them are verified.

craygirl

Not only is this a beautiful read, but it's such a great resource to know exists if a friend or I got herpes. Thank you so much for sharing!

John Smith@facebook

@craygirl Yeah herpes is awesome! Can't wait to get it!

anonynon

Survey time:
If you have the herp, do you wait until the last moment to disclose, or talk about it casually when things are calm?
If you don't, which would you prefer from a potential partner?

Judith Slutler

@anonynon I don't, but I would really prefer not to have it disclosed until the last moment. Personally, I wouldn't quite know how to process that info while aroused and ready to go! An ex of mine did have HSV 1, and he let me know about it early on. I don't really think it's a big deal, but it's one of those things that it would be good to know before I'm like, lying on someone's bed in their apartment.

I understand that's probably tough in the context of casual hookups, no major advice there... But as the amazing author notes, a lot of people actually don't care a lot, or have it themselves. I mean, 1 in 6 American adults? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidemiology_of_herpes_simplex#United_States

EternalFootwoman

@anonynon I would prefer to hear it when we're both clothed and clear-headed. I work in women's health; herpes isn't something I want, but it also isn't the worst thing that could happen. The disclosure wouldn't necessarily change my intentions of sleeping with someone. But I'd like the chance to decide, particularly with a one-night stand, before I've left the bar or party, gone to their house, and taken all my clothes off.

SarahP

@anonynon A partner who had HPV told me so in a makeout session pretty early in our dating. (But not so early--we were already making out, after all.) It was good timing--it was clear we were physically into each other, but sex wasn't guaranteed/on the table that night anyway, so it didn't "ruin" a mood or anything.

hallelujah

@anonynon on the receiving end of disclosure, the one time I was part of this conversation was when things were calm, except it was the next morning AFTER WE FUCKED. He was very careful during even outside of using a condom, and a great lay, but if I were a little older & wiser at that point I would have been pretty angry.

phlox

@anonynon I went out with a guy with oral herpes and he didn't tell me when we first made out, but the next date he had an outbreak so he did. I would have preferred to know before any risk of transmission. But he did it while we were upright and clothed, which was nice.

He used the "lots of people have this, it's no big deal" argument which I found unconvincing - sure, lots of people have it but I don't and I'd like to stay that way, so don't put me at risk without my knowledge.

Judith Slutler

@phlox Yeah... that argument pretty much becomes BS when it's being used to justify not informing someone & letting them do their own risk assessment.

NeverOddOrEven

@phlox Wait - do we really expect everyone to disclose cold sore status before ever kissing? Because this has NEVER happened in my world or that of anyone else I know.

theharpoon

@NeverOddOrEven Cold sore status = herpes status, just sayin'!

NeverOddOrEven

@theharpoon Sure, but the chance of oral-genital transmission is pretty slim. I'm HSV-1 positive and I assume got it from one of my parents, as my first cold sore was quite young.
By this same logic should positive parents not be able to kiss their own children? At least with out prior consent?
I may take a beating for this, but it seems a little absurd to me.

H.E. Ladypants

@NeverOddOrEven Yes this seems a bit weird to me, too. It's so, so common! And not the same thing as sexy-bits herpes!

Although, in some weird fit of over-honesty, I have disclosed to a few beaus that I get cold sores (if they didn't already know) in a "oh btw, you might want to know this" sort of way.

They all looked at me sidewise and said, "So do I. And...?"

skyslang

@anonynon I would DEFINITELY not like to hear about it when we were naked and ready to go. I think I would feel...manipulated? Confused definitely. In that case, I would probably be walking out, just so I could think about it. On the other hand, if I was told earlier, in a non-sexual situation, I don't think it would bother me much.

Monica Rico@facebook

@H.E. Ladypants Don't kid yourself. The virus is nearly identical to sexy-bits herpes, which is also so, so common.

theharpoon

@NeverOddOrEven I bet the person who wrote this wishes that the odds were even slimmer, since that's how she says she got it.

NeverOddOrEven

@Monica Rico@facebook The number I was able to find was that oral to genital transmission is only 1/6 as likely as genital to genital.

Clearly it happens and people should be careful and aware. Though in my opinion expecting people to disclose HSV-1 before ANY contact is an extreme reaction.

glitterary

@H.E. Ladypants @NeverOddOrEven I used to get cold sores when I was little, but I haven't had one for at least six years (and I'm not even sure that was one, as I hadn't had one for years before that either; I was just erring on the side of caution). I spent a lot of time really, really worrying about it, but after seven years of sexual activity I've never passed it on to anyone (and not for want of, er, kissing).

Given how common it is, and how non-contagious I seem to be, I don't generally disclose before making out with someone, but before I go down on anyone I'll make sure they know. But I'll also point out that it's been at least six years since I last had a coldsore.

For something so common--especially oral rather than genital--there's a really nasty amount of shaming that gets thrown around. (ETA: somewhere in a comment further down I've just noticed people saying the UK [where I am] has a less panicked approach to it--I think that may be true. It really depends on the person, but I get the feeling that unless you've actually got a sore, people are like "eh, you and the other 80% of the population, big deal" about it)

soleil

@anonynon My technique, in the four times I have told guys since I've contracted it, is to wait until we're good and drunk - preferably the kind of drink where you start telling sob stories about your past for one reason or another. And then BANG OH BY THE WAY...

This has only been a problem on one occasion. And I am SO GLAD i did not sleep with that douchebag. The other three guys have been so, so cool about it and it turns out that a. they were lovely guys and b. it's not such a big deal.

theharpoon

@glitterary Yeah, I'm not trying to say that it's a scary life threatening disease, and I think that the stigma that's associated with it in the US is way overblown. However, asymptomatic shedding is a thing, and I think it's better to let the other person know that there's a risk they might catch it even if it's a small risk - rather than making the choice to let them unknowingly take the risk. Just because you or I doesn't think it's that big a deal, doesn't mean that this hypothetical other person won't.

glitterary

@theharpoon I'd definitely disclose if I had genital herpes, but for coldsores it just seems silly. More than half the population gets them, so surely the default should be to assume that it's a risk and if it's a specific problem for you you'd ask? I'll still drop it into conversation before oral sex, but when something's more common than not it seems unnecessarily awkward.

slutberry

@anonynon I always disclose my cold sore status! 'Cause I KNOW how nasty those buggers get, and I don't want to pass them on. I gave them to the Gentleman :( but he doesn't mind. But we are super careful when we have outbreaks, so as not to smear viruses on each other.

NeverOddOrEven

@glitterary Hear, Hear!
In a perfect world everyone would disclose all risk before risk-taking happens. But particularly in this instance I think it'd be best to ask if it's that important to you, because you can't rely on people offering it up.

Porn Peddler

@anonynon I'm so happy someone else mentioned this so I didn't have to. That might have been my first response as the raging sex positive informed consent lady I am.

anonynon

@Third Wave Housewife As a HSV+ person since I was 17, I've tried every sort of disclosure timing and approach. Calm/collected/amused/nonchalant/anxious/casual/serious. Some people are just awful about it, regardless of how it's addressed. It occurs to me, somewhat belatedly (thank you, dear Author!), that maybe they were just awful men already. It can be a major self-esteem killer, when there are already other issues. I let that shit go on for entirely too long.

Ironically, I don't have HSV1, but am looked down on by those that do...

DrFeelGood

@SarahP Wow, that was very forward of your partner. I have HPV and I really didn't even understand what it was until I got it. Christ, my gnyo didn't even really explain it well (thanks WebMD!). We didn't go over it in my fairly exhaustive public school sex ed. I view HPV as being very different than Herpes or other STIs, given its low possibility of even being a cancer causing form of HPV. I found out I have it last year, or maybe cancer, or maybe nothing? I mean, I would have appreciated a guy saying "hey I have HPV" but I don't see that happening, as they don't even test men for it currently. I have NO idea who I could have gotten it from, since it can be dormant in your system for years.

Porn Peddler

@anonynon As someone who does not have any known STIs, I guess it's just a little unnerving for me to see that as the overwhelming assumption about people who reject you based on STI status (that is, "well, that weeds out an asshole!"). Especially in the case of casual sex and one night stands-- perhaps their responses would be different in another context (not trying to discount your experiences-- maybe you don't even have casual sex and are talking only about disclosing to potential partners/people you were dating). In the beginning stages of knowing/dating someone, they don't understand all of your experiences, nor do you theirs, so I'm concerned about the dismissal of people who don't accept STIs as a-ok.

@DrFeelGood Most dudes are not in a position to tell you whether or not they have HPV because unless they have visible warts, there's not exactly a reliable test for HPV in men.

DrFeelGood

@Third Wave Housewife Yea, I realize that. More of a "what if" that would be nice kind of thing.

Lenora Jane

@Third Wave Housewife I am with you here, sort of (on the disclosure reaction thing), especially in light of "rejection seemed less likely when the possibility of a good lay was hot-breath close." I agree that one probably ought to try and react more...pleasantly? Or something? than it sounds like this dude/the dudes of this tale have. But I was having a strong negative reaction to this piece from the start, couldn't figure out why and felt like an asshole for having obnoxious squickyfeelings about herpes, and realised: no, it was the notification scene that was upsetting me. If I brought someone home and they waited until I was naked and wet to drop "yo, I have an STI" on me, I would notnotnot appreciate it. Light and perfunctory is great! Light and perfunctory when we have already moved right along to hot 'n heavy, not so much.

THAT SAID: this is a wicked courageous, awesome and consciousness raisin' piece o' writing! Bien fait generally, Lady.

baked bean

@anonynon I, too, like the author, grew up with a horrible sex-ed class that scared us with STDs/STIs and didn't really teach us the difference or any of the sort.
Up until recently, I would have had no idea that herpes wasn't that bad and probably would have acted immaturely and confused had they waited until the last minute to inform me, thus forcing me to make a rush decision. Had someone I already respected and hung out with told me and explained, and I had time to read on it on my own, I'd come to the decision that I would be ok having intercourse with them.

Lenora Jane

@adriennelee "I would have had no idea that herpes wasn't that bad and"

I hear you on the sex ed thing and agree that that is a huge problem (I never even had sex ed, long funny story for another time, but I have heard some horror stories, and who can forget Mean Girls after all), both generally for Us As A Competent Society and individually for those of us dealing with this stuff.

I feel like it's not just an ignorance question though? Like, I now (no thanks to my high school, barf) know stuff about herpes and its relative transmission risks and so on and would almost definitely be fine with the situation on that count, but...there's something about dropping that on somebody mid-hookup that rankles with me just socially/procedurally? It's like (not exactly like, OBVIOUSLY NOTHING ALIKE IN INTENTION don't get me wrong, but the simile is ringing true for me right now) when juiceboxy guys pull the "this doesn't mean anything, right?" move after your clothes are off a la Bridget Jones. It's changing the premises/circumstances of what's happening midstream in a way that I find kind of unpalatable, and that would bother me a lot more than the content of the disclosure, I think.

HeyMatilda

@DrFeelGood What's really interesting is that HPV exists in various forms in the body (not all genital). My mom has had it in her sinuses, resulting in an actual lump that needed to be removed twice during separate sinus surgeries. Her dr has a theory that HPV exists in everyone and lies dormant unless triggered. Something to think about!

I have HPV and had to go through those awful colposcopies to make sure it wasn't turning cancerous. I don't really view it in the same vein as HSV because it can leave the body.

DaddyFr0gg

@glitterary It's not silly to disclose about cold sores. No matter how long it's been, the virus is still there. *DON'T* rely on having never passed it on before. Trust me on this one.

I, too, have gotten cold sores since childhood. I, too, have *never* [to my knowledge] passed on the virus to anyone else. I, too, used this as a reason not to bother disclosing the possibility. After about 20 years of such luck, that streak stopped. It is most definitely possible to pass on HSV-1 causing your cold sores to someone else either through kissing or through oral sex. Full disclosure from now on.

Lily420

@Monica Rico@facebook Your ignorance is giving my second hand embarrassment. My four year old brother gets cold sores and it's not "identical" to sexy bits herpes. Smh so hard, bless your heart.

L M
L M

brava! this reminds me of a herpes scare I once had and the nurse was all "1. it's just dermatological, so chill, and 2. unless you're actually going to use dental dams, odds are you'll get it. and no one wants to use dental dams."

lovely, lovely lady.

@Lucia Martinez "No one wants to use dental dams." THANK YOU. I'm happy they're out there, I'm happy people who feel like they should use them do so, but the few times i've tried to use them, they just suck. (Har har, not?)

theharpoon

@Lucia Martinez How do the dental dam people even stay in business, is what I want to know.

wee_ramekin

@Lucia Martinez I had an NP (who pinged really hard on the ol' Gaydar) look at me hardcore askance when I said that I wasn't using dental dams with my female partner. I almost wanted to shriek "DO YOU?!?!?!?!?!".

I prefer your nurse.

L M
L M

@theharpoon I bet they're made by the same people who make fruit roll-ups.

EternalFootwoman

@Lucia Martinez When I was in college, a quiet freshman asked at a Pride meeting if anyone *really* used dental dams. She was so relieved when everyone in the room said they never did.

lizzing

@Lucia Martinez Guess that means the same for bjs cuz do ppl really use condoms? Ugh too bad.

L M
L M

@wee_ramekin yours probs also expects hetero chicks to use condoms for beejs. because that's realistic.

SarahP

@Lucia Martinez But most people like having fruit roll-ups in their mouths.

L M
L M

@SarahP yeah, I'm sayin that's how they stay in business. omg 4th grade I miss you.

@wee_ramekin The difference between the two of us is that without missing a beat, I would be the one crossing my legs (yeah, NP, hear the crinkle of my paper gown!) and giving the stare that law school has permitted me to perfect while delivering a calm, accusatory "And you do? And you always did? How... sanitary."

Question: Have any hetero ladies gotten the dental dam talk? Because somehow it always fucking comes up when I tell them I'm gay, and yet I highly doubt all of the NPs and gynos are sitting down the SATC crowd and saying "so when your dude performs oral sex, do you do some arts and crafts with unlubed condoms?" Pet peeve, right there.

Passion Fruit

@wee_ramekin Ah, that scene is hilarious! I wish it had happened and I could have seen it.

Judith Slutler

@Lucia Martinez Well at least us hetero chicks can do that "roll the condom on with your mouth" trick which allllllmost makes it sexy / OK? But dental dams? geez

thebestjasmine

@S. Elizabeth I did (not from a doctor) but I went to a womens' college, so...

redheaded&crazy

@Lucia Martinez this makes me wonder if fruit roll-ups could work in place of dental dams. would be much preferred.

(i mean taste-wise??? i don't even know. i don't use dental dams. although when i was a lot younger and dumber i used to show off my sweet turning a glove into a dental dam with a thumb hook thing skills... but what's the point? really who does use dental dams)

wee_ramekin

@S. Elizabeth Oh grrrrl, I never got that question when I was having straight sex.

Which makes me sad: do health practitioners not think that men like to do the oral to their ladies' bits? (Hint: They do.)

@thebestjasmine SO DID I!!!! Women's College 'pinners UNITE.

MilesofMountains

@S. Elizabeth I think I've only ever even been asked about condoms for PIV sex once, let alone what I'm doing for other types of sex.

@redheaded&crazie That sounds like the fast track to a yeast infection brought to you by General Mills.

@wee_ramekin RIGHT? It sort of seems like they need to come up with *something* to tell queer chicks about safer sex and since suggesting gloves is a little bit ridiculous/unrealistic/are-you-fucking-kidding-me to most people, dental dams are the thing they get their panties bunched for.

My cool awesome gyn didn't ask me about dental dams, and for this (and a ton of other awesome things), I made her whole office brownies.

PistolPackinMama

@S. Elizabeth Nope. And very little conversation from docs about using condoms for oral, either. And I went to Catholic high school. While my RELIGION teacher (yes, that's right) did a good workaround of different types of contraception and such, it wasn't the same as actually outright discussing/demoing.

In college, the information was there, but very few people were proactive about sharing it. You had to ask for it.

redheaded&crazy

@S. Elizabeth WELL. If you're going to be all scientific about it!

PS i have also never been asked what i use for oral sex - also my doctor is the same as my mom's doctor and even though she has been really good about all kinds of awkward shit i have brought to her (like scabies yaaaaaagh yuck no <-- stigmatizing language, sorry scabies you're great no you're not) sometimes i wonder if i would be better off trying to find a new doc.

L M
L M

@S. Elizabeth ew ew I had a date bring out gloves once ew that was the last date. ew.

NeverOddOrEven

@redheaded&crazie I've had scabies 3 times! And lice countless. Sadly, both as recently as high school : /

I shared this fact while teaching an STI class for Planned Parenthood volunteers in the interest of destigmatization, but they seemed less than supportive.

Lola P.

@Lucia Martinez seriously, last date for bringing out gloves? it's not just for their protection but yours. i'd do last date for "they didn't tell me they had xyz and put me at risk." shrug.

i don't use them on the regs except for fisting. gloves for fisting 4ever. higher risk activity = more need for risk reduction AND helps enormously with the physics. (cough) "Try It Tonight!"

OhMarie

@theharpoon From dentists! I have disasterous teeth, and the only times I've ever had dental dams in my mouth were at the dentist.

OhMarie

@OhMarie I should say that dental dams are horrible even in a dental context. Blech.

wee_ramekin

@Lola McClure Gloves help with fisting?!?!

Fisting is a weekly topic at my Ladies' Night with my friends, even though - to my knowledge - only one of us has ever actually experienced it. I'm going to blow everyone's minds when I tell them "Oh yeah, you gotta use gloves. You know...physics. (Gallic shrug)"

Also, we have deemed fisting "rosebudding" (because...your hand looks like a rosebud at the beginning, I guess?) in my friend-group, because it sounds less painful that way.

Lola P.

@wee_ramekin yeah! the plastic of course smooths out any rough hand parts/protects receiver from nails. it also has a lot less friction as a surface than skin, making your hand glide much easier. the receiver's bits don't get as fatigued/sore, especially if you're taking it slowly, which you probably should be because, hand.

thank you for the previous thirty seconds of my life, where i found myself with my hand folded into fisting configuration, bemusedly twisting it this way and that, trying to see a rosebud and then suddenly: ohhhhh. i'm supposed to be drafting my nurse practitioner master thesis right now. tho i figure i am in a larger way.

L M
L M

@Lola McClure @wee_ramekin yeah, gloves make fisting easier, but I hate the smell of latex enough that ridiculous amounts of lube are preferable.

and yeah, last date--it's a pretty good indicator, for me, that we wouldn't rub along well together (pardon the pun) going forward.

Lola P.

@Lucia Martinez nitrile gloves have no smell and also come in a very aesthetically satisfying black. "You'll Be Shocked at the Boners They Don't Kill!"

L M
L M

@Lola McClure but black is so corny. (you should chalk me up as a loss on this. 'sides, I have a partner now and don't sleep around anymore.)

wee_ramekin

@Lola McClure *snerk* I think you missed your calling. With slogans like these, you shoulda been a Mad (wo)Man.

Also, a title for your master thesis, for your consideration:

Rosebudding: A Kinder, Gentler Fisting from Lola McClure

Lola P.

@Lucia Martinez no chalking up to loss because ain't trying to get you or anyone else to do anything. besides perhaps to accept that the only thing categorical about sex and safety and risk and pleasure is that everyone is different, so we should all talk about the different wonderful things that we're into in the context of what works about them for us. that one person's corny can be someone else's "yes, send me a picture of it. my, that's nice"

(runs away playing tambourine)

no way

@NeverOddOrEven Awww. I really like that you shared this. Aw, man. I support you!

atipofthehat

@wee_ramekin

Only opera length gloves, please.

(It's the buttons)

NeverOddOrEven

@no way Thanks! No one was mean about it or anything, I just saw a lot of confused, uncomfortable, "Thanks for the over-share!" faces. And so if you ask me, mission accomplished!

MollyculeTheory

@Lucia Martinez Once I was corresponding with a lady who specifically referenced a thing for purple nitrile gloves in her dating profile (which, ....?), and as a scientist I was all "oh, it's so charming that you are one of those people who wears the cute coloured gloves in lab" and said something like "I love that you love them" and only days later realized what? no, you mean, aaagh, just, no. ):

glitterary

@Lucia Martinez @Lola McClure Okay, so. I'm bi, but fairly inexperienced with the ladies. And... and I thought gloves were sort of okay? Like, I started out without for just fingering and going down, but I had a papercut on my hand, and vaginas are acidic! I wanted to not have a stinging hand distracting me while I was trying to fit my whole hand inside someone for the first time ever! And the lady in question, who is lovely, and who I had no health concerns about (nor she me), seemed a little... weirded, but understanding. But seriously, is it so unusual? Have I committed a terrible faux pas? Do I get docked gay points for this?

wee_ramekin

@glitterary Girl! Your "bi & inexperienced" makes me question my self-perception of "queer & fairly experienced"! You have fisted a lady! I...have not!

Also, I don't think it's a faux pas. Sounds like it's a dealbreaker for Lucia and probably is for others, but on the other hand (heh) you're gonna have the people who don't care either way or prefer gloves.

YOU DO YOU, darling!

glitterary

@wee_ramekin Haha! Thanks :) No, but seriously--said lady is the only lady I have done more than kiss with. On like... three occasions. I'm pretty sure that's still inexperienced. Maybe with a steep learning curve.

LeafySeaDragon

@Lucia Martinez i get that when i share to people i have had ringworm multiple times.

so i like to walk barefoot and pet stray/loose cats OK, shit happens!

Lola P.

@glitterary hear hear @wee_ramekin. what you said:

i'm a big proponent of ripping up the queer points system for one million reasons! however, 100% guarantee that anything related to putting your hand inside a lady will not lower your score. with anything in sex (and in this glorious earthly life bequeathed to us by Fatherly Creator) faux pas is completely relative: there's going to be a person who considers X a dealbreaker, a person who considers the lack of it a dealbreaker, and a person who doesn't care either way.

in the practical meantime, perhaps her eyebrow raise was due to seeing yr glove as solely a STI risk reducer ("does she think i have something?") as opposed to you trying to protect your cut. even with that taste argument above, i don't see how anyone could be like, "are you seriously trying to ensure that stingy papercut nastiness doesn't inhibit your focus on breaking me off in a spectacular manner? i'm erasing your number in my head"

L M
L M

@glitterary what Lola said. like, if you have a cut or something, yeah, wear a glove (or do what I do and just skip that part because see above and also ow it stings) and just splain. no one's gonna be all "ew wtf" if you say you have a cut and it'll sting. we've all been there.

OR MAYBE NOT cough*wee_ramekin*cough

wee_ramekin

@Lucia Martinez NOT FOR LACK OF TRYING, Lucia! (*hurls porcelain self off of curio cabinet ledge toward un-fisted doom*)

L M
L M

@wee_ramekin taco shack girl never knew what she was potentially possibly missing

wee_ramekin

@Lucia Martinez HA!

PS - I totally went and bought a taco there the other day because she was there. Even though I had already eaten.

PistolPackinMama

@wee_ramekin WAITWHAT. But you didn't put your foxy, small crockery moves on her cute self? @dieauflaufformchen!

Also, and I do understand if this is not a question anyone feels like answering for the straight lady in the thread. But. Fisting. How does it fucking (har har) work?

I am asking for a friend, who may have been asked by a gentleman caller about this activity.

glitterary

@Lola McClure @Lucia Martinez Hurrah! I guess this means I can start wearing my Birkenstocks again too.

(It's a lie! I don't even know what Birkenstocks are! It's either shoes or trousers but really it could be either. I'm so lipstick you could write threatening/seductive messages on a mirror with me.)

L M
L M

@PistolPackinMama erm, hm. how does it work. slowly? for others, less so. it's basically exactly how it sounds, except instead of leading with your four knuckles you put your thumb on top of the curve made by your index finger, so it's less wide and more narrow at the top (the top being the tip of your thumb) and then you just kinda do it.

not gonna lie, for a while there I was gonna be super classy and get a ruler tattooed on my inner forearm.

glitterary

@Lucia Martinez ...does it have to be like that? I was doing the "rosebudding" thing mentioned upthread. Actually going in fist-shaped would absolutely not have fit :^/

PistolPackinMama

@Lucia Martinez rooosooossssseeeeeeeeebuuuuuudddddddd.

Also, ruler. Hahahahahahahaha!

Lola P.

@glitterary ROSEBUUUUD!!!!! that is what i do, too: all fingers in, forming a wedge, then folding up my hand and it naturally curves into a duck head sorta shape. i'm having a hard time picturing what lucia's talking about, but it's probably similar?

L M
L M

@Lola McClure @glitterary yeah, I think we're talking about the exact same thing.

there's only one way to fist a girl, it seems.

slutberry

@S. Elizabeth I never did. But I am also non-sex-having at this point. I did have a fun conversation when the Gentleman took me to the ER that one time, though--

Doctor: Are you using some form of birth control?
Me: No.
Doctor: So, are you trying to get pregnant?
Me: No.
awkward pause, during which Doctor and Resident exchange alarmed glances
Doctor: But... um... I mean, you do know you could get pregnant, right??
Me: laughs hysterically, explains situation

EpWs

@PistolPackinMama I'm a straight lady hopping into this thread too, and putting in a request for perhaps a future thread/post/topic:

Can we all have a Hairpinversation about anal sometime? (In all its forms, for all gender configurations?) Asking for a...curious friend? (The rest of the internet is a terrible place, this is about the only crew I trust to crowdsource talks like this, etc.)

PistolPackinMama

@Lucia Martinez It sounds less fisty and more 3-D-pizza-slice-ey. I think the gentleman caller was interested in test driving this procedure, and I was all... go do some research on that and get back to me. Which is my standard "if you want it bad enough..." They never do.

mlle.gateau

@thebestjasmine I ALSO got the dental dams talk at my women's college. SRSLY, WHO USES THOSE THINGS?! I wonder what A Dude would say if a lady busted one out? I wonder what I would I would do if a dude busted one out?

Danzig!

@redheaded&crazie That seems like a great way to give your receiver a yeast infection. So, tradeoffs

*e - dang, beaten to it by a wide margin. Not on my commenting game today

redheaded&crazy

@Danzig! okay FINE fruit roll-up as dental dam suggestion revoked NEW IDEA what if you wrap it around--

i mean it would serve no practical purpose except yummy--

eta: this is why my dentist hates me

PistolPackinMama

@redheaded&crazie Oh dear. I am having an awful "Dairy Queen Chocolate Shell" moment here.

NeverOddOrEven

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I'm in! To learn anyway, not much to contribute.
I've grown increasingly curious, mostly because I think it's the next "taboo" in line that I don't have much experience with. I just ordered my first butt plug though! Fun Factory is awesome. Also stoked for my Layaspot, which is Sex Nerd Sandra approved.
It's funny though. My husband has a TON of experience with anal sex (giving) because he happened to date a string of women before me who preferred it. So now it's a hard sell because he's all, "Meh, that's played out."

redheaded&crazy

@PistolPackinMama that's funny, it looks like you wrote awful but did you mean to say delicious???

DrFeelGood

@S. Elizabeth Yea Women's College grad here. There were free dental dams and condoms in all the bathrooms. That was a fun conversation with my mom when she came to visit!

vomiting

@theharpoon Sex workers use them. That's it as far as I know.

John Smith@facebook

@Lucia Martinez Odds are you'll get it if you're a whore. congrats.

NeverOddOrEven

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher You're not in MN, are you? I'm thinking of PistolPackinMama, I think.

If you are though I was just in Smitten Kitten and they're having an Anal 101 class on May 3rd. Good 'Pinup opportunity?

@John Smith@facebook Haters be hatin, trolls be trollin.

EpWs

@NeverOddOrEven I'm not in MN, but that would be fun!
Also I read "Smitten Kitten" as "Smitten Kitchen" and was REALLY ROYALLY CONFUSED.

Passion Fruit

I'm glad things are working out for you, anonymous HSV-1 lady. It's a hard fact to disclose, and you are doing the right thing.

Also, wow, last week was pretty light on the Hpin, but this week it's just a steady lineup of heavy hitters. Nice one-two, ladies.

 the lady

Hello everyone , I'm. New on here. I was reading some of ur comments . I know what ur saying . I can't get a date either . Every time I go out with a guy . I have to explain. That I have an std . I'm going to be a lone the rest of my life , now

Probs

This was great!

Brendan Moore@facebook

This was so awesome! Great links to disability theory as well: how do we classify different bodies as "toxic" or "normal"? Herpes, in many cases, only affects your life to the degree to which others treat you differently. Fascinating stuff.

lyzl@twitter

I love this. Thank you.

PistolPackinMama

This is terrific. Thank you so much for writing about your experience.

planforamiracle

@PistolPackinMama agree completely! so interesting, genuine and heartfelt.

eustaceia

Ahhhh thank you for this post. I also got HSV-1 from oral sex (and almost made a new commenter name to say this? Even though this is anonymous already and I barely ever post?) I'm in the middle of a breakup now, years later, that means soon I'm going to have to figure out how to tell people, which I've never done before. SO FREAKED OUT. But so glad to have read this!

rosaline

@eustaceia Just delurked (hellooooo everyone!) because this post is my story exactly and it means so much to hear others talking honestly about herpes! There are so many misconceptions about herpes despite the number of people who have it... I had the same almost non-existent sex ed class and the perception that doing "everything but" eliminated the danger, and I contracted HSV-1 from oral sex. I'm not in contact with him any longer (long story about a fling with a handsome Hungarian while traveling), but I think he likely gets cold sores every once in a while and has no idea that this means he can give others genital herpes. I had my first outbreak about a year later, and when the doctor diagnosed me, I thought my world had come to an end. I have a much better perspective now after learning about it, but I do feel like I have to re-learn how to date.

I completely stopped dating for a year, actually, but recently became involved with someone from work and had to tell someone outside my family for the first time. He took it very calmly and, once I'd explained about there being two types but that you could get either one either place, said that he's gotten cold sores all his life. (Never did I think I would be so delighted to hear that someone has cold sores!) Two weeks after this conversation, a test revealed that his oral herpes are HSV-1, and life is good. For those of you who don't already know, estimates of the adult American population who carry HSV-1 (with or without symptoms) vary from 50 to 90%, so if you meet someone, it's actually MORE likely than not that they carry HSV-1 and therefore the antibodies making them immune to further infection. The numbers are lower for HSV-2 but still substantial.

SO the point of all that is that it is very scary to tell someone but it feels good to a) be doing the right thing and b) finally have the truth out in the open. And the odds are that it won't even be an issue! That was what I kept telling myself while I worked up the courage to tell him, and it really helped me.

Also, I second what everyone has written below about herpes jokes being horrible!

pandaonaplane

Excellent piece! It's a great primer on how to tell partners.
I also have herpes and it PLAGUES me that I have to tell every partner for the rest of my life. I have only slept with TWO people, both long term relationships and I still got it. I can't stand all the jokes that equate herpes with promiscuity.

PistolPackinMama

@pandaonaplane I can't stand the jokes, period. It's become a casual thing to be derisive about herpes, when as LM above says, it's dermatalogical and to chill about it.

I hear it made fun of all the time, along with other apparently shameful things like promiscuity, liking/tolerating anal sex as a hetero lady, pegging, and so on. And other STIs, of course.

It pisses me off, because, being upfront about your sexual health or your outside the norm-for-a-given-value-of-norms is just that much harder when you hear people making hah hah hah you filthy slut/deviant/stupid trashy person jokes. Oh, yeah. And if someone likes teh sex a lot and doesn't have an STI, people might be generous and not label them as slutty. Which is also not cool, because first of all it's just not and also, way to stigmatize being sexually accomplished even more than it is already.

I am all for not making hah hah it's so embarrassing jokes about this stuff at all.

(My hypothesis is, people are making jokes about herpes in part to make themselves feel better- see, I am not a filthy slut!- and also because they are scared of having it.)

(Also, if it's yucky for straight people to do the anal, then what is the whole it's yucky crowd saying about gay men... like, deviant sex is okay, I guess if you are deviant? Fuck that for a game of soldiers.)

Slapfight

@PistolPackinMama Yeah, and considering more than half of the population carries it and doesn't even know, pretty ridiculous. I always assumed it was tested for with all the other STIs, but no. You have to ask for it specifically or they don't even bother to look.
People just love to make themselves feel better by judging others. Good lord. All it takes is one person one time to get any STI, and some can be transmitted without actual intercourse.
Slut-shaming is so ingrained in our society.

alebee

@pandaonaplane 2 parts to this reply, with very different flavors to them:

1) the number is, apparently, more like 80% of the population are carriers, with more men being virus-carrier than women. When 2, count'em, 2 doctors in a row told me that, and literally LAUGHED when I asked if I should be worried about this, I kind of stopped caring. But...

2) 3 different places refused to test me for it, after a partner informed me that he had it, because I had never/did not have an outbreak. Each place was like ummm...we can give you a super inconclusive blood test, and it'll cost a lot of money, and then, as I sat there with my jaw near the ground and the WTF HOW DO I GET YOU TO TELL ME MORE INFORMATION-face, the health care practitioners would hop up and say "OK great, bye!," and I somehow kept letting them leave.

Only PP would test me, and the PP nurse was the only one who sat down and walked me through the immunology, logic, and actual facts of the deal. So, let's all give hella money to PP.

What I learned from this whole experience is that we suck at preventative health care, and that something is broken in the system; it should not have taken me three doctors, tons of hours doing my own research, and a few med-school friends to tell me why I could or could not be tested, and why I should or should not be worried.

Slapfight

@pandaonaplane I know it sucks that you have to let future partners know, but I'd recommend you do so before you even get too close to physical intimacy. Then they have time to go home and do some research and decide from there if they want to proceed forward. I dated a dude who told me he had it, I looked it up, learned it's not the biggest deal in the world and dated him. If someone reacts badly then they're clearly ignorant and immature, therefore not worth your time. You'll be ok.

pandaonaplane

@PistolPackinMama Yesss! I agree wholeheartedly with all of this.

Hambulance

@pandaonaplane Half-related.

Can we also quit it with the fucking labia/roast beef/chewed gum jokes?

JUST. STOP.

lisam

@pandaonaplane Little late to the party, just stumbled upon this article and I have the literally the exact same story. Slept with two dudes my entire adult life and I get HSV-2. Just recently found out and all I have been thinking about are my friends that have had many an unprotected encounter and nothing has happened. WTF?!? drives me a little nutty sometimes. I am still seeing the guy and its been really tough to reconcile how i very much care for him but at the same time he gave me something that will never go way (cure pending). Also would like to thank the author for writing this article - i feel like ive been on this emotional roller coaster for a while now, after reading this though I feel a bit more grounded and hopeful. Thank you.

Ginger Slap

Love this post so much! Thanks for writing this.

dham

This a really great piece, although I do not know if I would have the strength to put up with all the shitty responses. I mean, I think I have partially avoided getting tested for this in order to avoid having knowledge I would have to disclose? I know that sounds terrible, but in the end, it's strange that someone would 1. be willing to sleep with a stranger, no questions asked and also 2. be unwilling to go through with it *with protection* after finding out that stranger has a super common virus.

redheaded&crazy

Thank you for writing this! I loved it all but especially this: " I felt more fragile and powerful and worthy of careful handling than ever."

If only we could all figure out how to channel that kind of attitude in life.

lagreen

@redheaded&crazie Exactly! That's what I loved about it, too! It's like herpes made her grow up in a really positive way. Great piece, Lady!

Lenora Jane

@redheaded&crazie Hear hear!

dk
dk

My husband told me about his herpes during our second date (prior to any naked action). After he disclosed the herpes, he also told me that he had gone to Burning Man THREE TIMES. I hope I don't need to tell you which disclosure made me doubt seeing him again.

@dk Your priorities are in order.

Ellie

@dk Enthusiastically thumbs-up'ed.

kapitalk

Ugh, the OK Cupid bit. Good luck with that, OK Cupid. As a sexual healthcare worker this drives me bonkers! Some STIs are very common! Perpetuating the idea that they aren't only leads to more STIs, because people who don't have noticeable symptoms don't get tested or are less likely to use safer sex practices.

I am not even going to touch the stigma/shaming culture around STIs because rage. But as to the facts and the numbers: Someone above mentioned that 1 in 6 adults in America have herpes. This number actually only applies to HSV 2, the form that is most often the cause of genital herpes. HSV 1, which is what this author has (and I have), is much more common! It's the kind that causes most oral herpes (cold sores). I have read clinical studies that estimate up to 70% of adults have HSV1. It's super common! Even if you don't get cold sores you could have it!

Anyhow, enough exclamation marks. To the author: This is a great piece, and I think it could be especially useful to someone newly diagnosed.

Finally, having given my fair share of herpes diagnoses to others, I think your nurse could have been gentler with you.

LadyMoMo

Thank you so much for this. I felt like I was reading my own story (contracted HSV-1 when I was 18-- the first time I received oral sex). I just ended a long-term relationship and the fear of having to have "the conversation" again has been debilitating. Feeling better about it now. *Hugs*

HeyMatilda

Thank you so much for this! I just recently had a scare with my current boyfriend after his ex came out of the woodwork with her herpes diagnosis. It turned out negative for both of us but all the feelings you've described totally flashed before me the last 3 weeks while we've been waiting to find out our results.

Never having had an STD scare before, this was all new to me. Thanks for showing regardless of the diagnosis, there are so many bigger problems to worry about in life!

falconcrest

Let me add another thank you for this story, from another HSV-2 individual who feels very alone on this issue. I contracted this five years ago & feel like I missed out on some relationship possibilities because I felt too fragile/emotionally freaked out to disclose the information.

Has anyone on here used any of the std dating sites? Any experiences? I signed up for positive singles & it has less than impressed me. Can anyone recommend any of the others?

kimkrypto

@falconcrest I haven't used any of the STI dating sites, but I've got HSV1 & 2, and I second the author when I say that it's only been a problem with people who I shouldn't be involved with in the first place. I use OKCupid, despite their apparent STI-shaming, and there is a question where you can filter out people who would never date someone with an STI. That kind of thing is useful information.

anonynon

@falconcrest PLEASE don't feel like you have to go to an STD-only dating site. I remember being hurt, shocked and shaken when a friend suggested I do the same, after disclosing that having the 'conversation' was difficult. Why would you limit yourself like that? Don't define yourself by a simple skin irritation!

falconcrest

@anonynon Thank you. You know, I really thought I had gotten over my emotional trauma surrounding this. But reading this post yesterday and refreshing over & over to see new comments - I've found myself weeping a little bit. You're right - I have been limiting myself as to who I think I am able to or even have the right to meet romantically.

Ugh, more emotional work to be done it seems. Time to be brave.

PotatoPotato

Thank you, An HSV Positive Lady. My emotions are totally all over the place right now, and my heart is pounding. I was recently diagnosed with HSV2, and I blog about it anonymously because I have a hard time talking about it in real life, face to face with the few friends I've told. I can talk to my boyfriend about it, obviously, but then he starts to feel like a schmuck because he didn't know he had it when he gave it to me. I don't like making him feel that way.

Right after my diagnosis I called up a friend who knowingly dated -- and married -- a guy who had it. One thing she told me that will always stand out in my memory of that conversation: "Well, it weeds out a lot of assholes."

falconcrest

@PotatoPotato where do you blog? I'm pretty tired of not talking about this to anyone, but don't feel ready to talk about it to friends in real life. Would love to read the thoughts & experiences of a like minded individual.

PotatoPotato

@falconcrest: On Tumblr. I've actually found a couple really good blogs from other people who have it, too, and it's meant the world to me. You should be able to find me if you search the tags for HSV, but I can give you the actual name if it's not considered in bad taste on The Hairpin.

Slapfight

@PotatoPotato There's a tumblr called thesexuneducated. She's positive and is very open about it and answers questions. It's a lovey, informative blog in general.

Mr. Kitty

@PotatoPotato Blogging anonymously is a good idea. I kept it all bottled up insideand got really weird about sex for awhile after I was diagnosed (even though my boyfriend gave it to me). My friends still don't know, almost 3 years later. I hardly even wrote about it in my journal, like I was ashamed to admit it to myself.

PotatoPotato

@Slapfight: I follow her! I think she is lovely.

PotatoPotato

@Mr. Kitty: I recommend it. And I'd really love to read and share experiences with more of us. We're everywhere, but I think more of us should be talking about it online.

wee_ramekin

@PotatoPotato I don't think it would be considered in bad taste to share it. It sounds like your blog would be a great resource for a lot of us Pinners!

PotatoPotato

@wee_ramekin: Alright then, I blog under DxGlitter. But ALL THE REST OF Y'ALL HSV+ people should join me in writing! I'm certainly no expert, and I think that the more people share their experiences, the better off we're all gonna be.

Sarah Rain

Does anyone disclose cold sores that are in the usual location? I only do if there's one there right that very minute.

theharpoon

@Sarah Rain "the usual location" ??????

PotatoPotato

@theharpoon: I'm guessing she means oral.

theharpoon

@PotatoPotato She means, "it's the same thing either place, but I call a different thing when it's in this place."

theharpoon

So, as I think was mentioned somewhere else in this thread, either you tell them beforehand or you tell them when you do have an outbreak, and they're like, "you didn't tell me before? You asshole." personal experience from the other side of this equation.

rosaline

@Sarah Rain If you get cold sores, you can give your partner herpes even when you aren't currently having an outbreak. It's this annoying thing called asymptomatic shedding... So best to disclose.

Sarah Rain

@rosaline I know, but given that something like 70% of the population has it, I don't know if disclosure is necessary. (Certainly no one has ever disclosed it to me...)

slutberry

@rosaline Can you also transmit oral-to-genital when you're not outbreaking? Enquiring minds need to know...

PotatoPotato

@sniffadee: Yes. The body goes through periods where it sheds the virus, meaning it's present on the surface of the skin (as opposed to in hibernation among nerves, where it hides when it's not active). The person will have no symptoms, and won't know they're shedding, but they can pass the virus at that time.

rosaline

@sniffadee Yes, you can transmit oral-to-genital even when you're not having an outbreak. That's exactly how I got HSV-1, and that's why I wish people who know they get cold sores would disclose! Risks are low, but evidently it happens. One important caveat: if they also have the same strain of HSV as you, then it should be a non-issue, because once someone contracts that strain, they start to develop antibodies to it and don't get reinfected. It's like with chicken pox (which is also in the same family of viruses as HSV).

@Sarah Rain I understand your hesitation completely! SUCH an awkward discussion. Since you don't know if your partner already carries the virus and you do know about the risk of transmission, the respectful thing to do is let them know, IMHO. Because they may have had abstinence-only sex ed like I did and not know the risks themselves.

slutberry

@PotatoPotato Ach uch blegh.

So, also, what are the chances of self-infecting another part of your body? I know someone who's given herself genital herpes from her oral herps, but it seems surprising that it's not across-the-board- like if you have it orally, you have it genitally. Because if the virus is occasionally just hanging out on your skin, and then you touch your mouth before scratching or masturbating or changing your tampon/Diva cup, wouldn't you pass it on?

rosaline

@sniffadee Not a medical expert, but from what I've read, cases of self-infection like that are pretty rare. I think it happens when the case of oral herpes is relatively new and the person hasn't developed antibodies yet, so they get re-infected in the other location. But viruses are viruses and they do weird things every once in a while. Don't worry about it too much, but do talk to a doctor for real reassurance!

PotatoPotato

@sniffadee: The chances of that happening (it's called autoinoculation) are low. The virus is fragile once it's been removed from the skin. And once your body has developed the antibodies to the virus, it's less likely to become infected in another place -- which is why they tell you to be extra careful about what you touch during your first outbreak, before the antibodies are built up and your immune system knows how to ward it off. It is possible, though, to get the same strain both orally and genitally and I know people to whom it has happened. (A couple who both had HSV1 orally, one gave it to the other genitally through oral sex, and then it spread to both their genitals. They gave up trying to figure out who spread it where on whom.) Again, though, it was direct contact, mouth-to-junk, junk-to-junk.

Also, say you're exposed to the virus on your labia. Once your body pushes the virus down into submission and an outbreak is over, the virus travels down healthy nerve tissue towards your spine. That's why your immune system has trouble fighting it off -- it's hidden in healthy nerve tissue. The same nerves that service your labia are rooted in the same general place as the nerves that end near the anus. So, it's possible that the virus will travel around a bit that way. I originally only had sores on my labia, for example, but during maybe my 3rd or 4th outbreak blisters showed up on my inner thigh. BUT, it's not going to travel as far as my mouth via my nervous system.

slutberry

@rosaline Dude. Viruses are so wily. I have the deepest respect for them.

But I really wish they would stop camping out in itchy burning clusters around my mouth. And I sincerely hope they will stay away from my ladybits, forever.

Vera Knoop

@sniffadee This is the part where I run out of the room screaming EYEBALL HERPES, isn't it? I hate that part.
Seriously, I have nightmares about this constantly. As a boring old married, it's actually the only way it really affects my life anymore.

slutberry

@Vera Knoop Yes. I get the herpes inside my nose, too, and I am TERRIFIED that it will creep to my eyeballs. One time I got a sty, and I was SO SCARED THAT I HAD EYEBALL HERPES.

On the plus side, I hear you usually only get one breakout of eyeball herpes. On the minus side, sometimes it makes you go blind.

ShannonOH

@rosaline Risks are not that low actually from those who oral HSV1. It's very common, and it spreads quite easily. Most people have no idea they have it, because they had symptoms when they little children and they don't remember it anymore.

Ironically, if you catch HSV1 in the genital area, it is far less likely to spread. It is the oral HSV1 people who spread HSV1, yet it's only an STD if you catch it in the genital area. Seems quite backwards.

Mr. Kitty

I wish this article had been around 2 years ago. I got it from my boyfriend (who is a silent carrier, tests negative, still has never shown any signs) and we are still together, but I have always wondered how awful dating would be if we were to break up.

I think the biggest problem is that there's such a STIGMA about it that it makes people not want to disclose, thus it keeps getting passed on. The funny thing is that herpes does not affect my life AT ALL, except some people won't want to sleep with me. (Also, the culture they took at planned parenthood... that was the worst kind of pain.) I certainly think it would tame my promiscuity in the dating world, but that's a positive thing.

I'm rambling... I'm just really grateful to have read this today.

PotatoPotato

@Mr. Kitty: OMG, can we talk about how much that culture swab hurt? MUTHERFUCKITY OW.

soleil

@Mr. Kitty YES. My feeling exactly. I get so frustrated sometimes that I can't just be open and honest with the world that i have it because it is a NON ISSUE. But I can't and I don't (except to people I want to bone, obvi) because then I'd be The Girl with Herpes.

nonvolleyball

@PotatoPotato ugh, seriously, that's a THING? I got tested once for Something The Doc Thought Was Herpes (it wasn't--& here's where I bust out my caveats of "although I realize it's very common & not a big deal! I'm just glad I don't have it!"), & I could not beLIEVE how much it hurt. it was a new doctor, too, who was generally terrible in all ways, so I assumed it was just her. but I guess not! yeeowch.

PotatoPotato

@nonvolleyball: Yeah, here's this sore spot that is super painful enough that you actually called and set up an emergency appointment, so let's REALLY GET THIS SWAB RIGHT IN THERE and let's TWIST IT AROUND A FEW MORE TIMES and OH LOOK, HERE'S ANOTHER. *wimper* My doc was super nice and supportive and didn't mind when I lost my shit and started crying in her office, so I can't say anything bad about her, but my god.

nonvolleyball

@PotatoPotato well, my doc was all eyerolly & blase when I responded incredulously to her "that looks like herpes" diagnosis, so I will continue to hate her and be glad I switched offices. but it's good to know she wasn't deliberately torturing me, I guess.

oh, medicine. you & your "discomfort"...

ida claire

I've had oral herpes ever since I can remember... One of my parents passed it on to me (which is common). I've never thought of it as a huge deal. Then again, I've always been careful not to engage in any activities that could result in me spreading it when I have an outbreak. I do tell people, but it's always been more of an afterthought. For the longest time I didn't even know that I could pass it on to another person's genitals (no one ever told me this!) Luckily I always feel too sick and hideous to have ever risked this scenario. I really wish my childhood Dr. or someone/anyone would have given me the DL on oral herpes when I was a wee one. It troubles me to think of what could have happened had I been more flippant about my fever blisters.

H.E. Ladypants

@ida claire My sister and I joke that we got herpes from our father.

It sounds so awful (but is really so benign) and we are awful people so we think it's funny.

ShannonOH

@ida claire Here's the thing you should know. You can spread it to someone's genitals even when you're not having any blisters. That's why it's so common. You can spread it about 30% of the time when you're no having any symptoms. Why are you not infecting lots and lots of people with genital HSV1? Because the majority of them already have oral HSV1, and with a few rare exceptions, you can't catch it again.

Maja D.@twitter

This piece is great. Thank you, an HSV Positive Lady.

I have a crap immune system, so I definitely want to be disclosed to. I sort of can't imagine sex as an all-or-nothing proposition (i.e. we need to mash our genitals together or this evening is A TOTAL LOSS). So if I were disclosed to in the heat of the moment, I suppose I would suggest other, lower-risk activities for that time, and then go do research and figure it out. I'd also tell the disclosee why I was making that decision, so they didn't feel like crap about it ("I'm actually at a marginally higher risk, so let's hold off on that for now. Why don't we ____?") Right? Right? Isn't that the right move?

PistolPackinMama

@Maja D.@twitter Yes. That sounds like a great idea. The only way you know someone has an idea of what you are thinking is if you tell them. If you do this, people get the information they need to make their own decisions/establish feelings while you make/establish yours.

(Fellow compromised immune-systemers unite!)

skyslang

@Maja D.@twitter Yeah, totally the right move. That's what I'd do.
But also...disclosing status before getting naked, thus allowing the person time to think about it and process it and research it and get comfortable with it before getting naked is a good move, too.

smack

WAIT. Y'all. We're suppose to disclose that we get fever blisters? Like I thought it was like a hands-off thing when one was a-brewing, but not if you just had good old oral herpes like EVERY OTHER PERSON. Sorry, all the guys!

Also I can't be the only one who is like "herpes, meh," right? I mean I'm married and the junk hasn't had anything crazy go on, but I did a lot of sex in the single days, so I'd say the chances are are good. I'm not going to be having any New People Sex, but it I did and some guy was like "I got the herp," I'd really only stay away if it was an outbreak. And that would be a raincheck. It makes me sad that people are so embarrassed. People who get creeped out or whatever are, in my opinion, weirdo baby humans who don't understand anything.

@smack Especially since it's a skin thing. Like seriously, it's a fucking rash. That's not to say you shouldn't disclose it (because knowingly giving someone a virus is a shitty thing to do), but really... it's a skin thing.

charizard

I recently realized that herpes and HPV are just things we all seem to pick up with age and experience. It won't kill you and it certainly won't make you unfuckable (because if it did... it would stop spreading.) Don't panic when you wind up with one, but take precautions anyway! American sex ed clearly did a number on many of our panic meters.

@charizard I survived abstinence-only sex education and the only thing I got was this outrageous therapy bill.

slutberry

@charizard I am just scared of genital herps because my oral herps hurt SO MUCH. SOOOOOOO MUCH.

Peanut Butter

@charizard Except cancer?

PistolPackinMama

@charizard I have been doing a lot of misreading lately, and misread that last phrase as "panic members." Which kind of suits, actually...

DrFeelGood

@Nymph As an HPV positive person, I kind of bristle at this statement. I agree with charizard. We (most) have it, whether you know it or not. And HPV will be treated unlike most other STIs (in terms of disclosing to partners), until there are major changes to our health care system. Also HPV does not equal automatic cancer. Yes, cervical cancer is a risk, but your chances of mortality with cervical cancer only begin to significantly rise when you don't have your annual Pap.

#1 Men are not tested for HPV. So they cannot disclose to female partners.
#2 There are 30 forms of HPV. Only 2 are known to cause cancer.
#3 80% of the US population has HPV. Your chances of getting it are highest between the ages of 18 - 24. Most women do not even know they have it, since something like 95%+ cases of HPV clear up on their own with no other symptoms or issues.
#4 Most people my age (30s ish) and older, do not even really understand HPV. We didn't talk about it in Sex Ed. My only knowledge about it before I was "diagnosed" was hey there is this gaurdasil shot? And I am too old for it so whatevs. This may be changing for the young in's, obviously.

When I found out I had HPV - the diagnosis was literally along the following lines "Oh hey, your tests came back abnormal cells. So that means, you may have cancer, but probably not. You need further tests" After further testing "oh hey so your results are negative, you do not have a cancer causing form of HPV, and perhaps you don't have HPV at all" Things like yeast infections, recent sexual intercourse, can also interfere with HPV tests.

So basically until ALL people are tested and the results are clearer, most of us can't even really disclose HPV status to partners. HPV can lie dormant in your system for YEARS, so despite the fact that I have had 1 p-in-v partner in my entire life, and about 5 others with just oral/touching before; I have HPV. So basically, I think the statement that 80% of the population is probably actually way too low.

DrFeelGood

@DrFeelGood Sorry, I mispoke on one of the facts. There are actually 100 forms of HPV, and there are 2 strains that cause 70% of the cancers.

Peanut Butter

@DrFeelGood I didn't say hpv=cancer. But it can lead to it. It's also expensive, considering you have more gyno visits and such. I was just responding to the 'it won't kill you' thing.

And precisely because there is no test for men (scientist, get on it!) I think it's unconscionable to seek out new sex partners while you know you are positive for hpv. Even if you are one of the 95% who clears up and hardly notices having it, what if your lover's next lover isn't? What about oral cancer? If being chaste for those two years will prevent ONE person down the sexy grapevine from not getting it and not getting cancer, isn't it worth it? If you had syphilis you absolutely would not knowingly expose others to a risk.

DrFeelGood

@Nymph I didn't say that you shouldn't disclose it, merely that it would be impossible for most infected individuals to even tell their partners, because they most likely wouldn't even know. I've probably had HPV for about 10 years at this point, given my sexual history, and even with annual paps for the last 10 years, I only found out this year. The added "expense" of me having HPV this year will be 30 extra dollars, on my co-pay, for an additional pap this year and screening.

From my point of view, saying "but cancer!" for HPV is like saying, everyone should stay inside, if it prevents 1 melanoma cancer, it will be worth it. When in reality, HPV at this point is basically an inherent risk of sex. There are inherent risks in lots of things that science hasn't yet provided an answer to... not saying that we shouldn't be resolving this, but its a bit, knee-jerk to say well, what about cancer? I still use my microwave, a cell phone, bacon, and have sex, even though I could be getting cancer.

DrFeelGood

@Nymph Sorry, don't mean to attack you; but i think its important to state the risks clearly. When I was diagnosed I FREAKED OUT and thought was going to have cervical cancer, so I want to be clear for everyone.

canary

@Nymph "Even if you are one of the 95% who clears up and hardly notices having it, what if your lover's next lover isn't? What about oral cancer? If being chaste for those two years will prevent ONE person down the sexy grapevine from not getting it and not getting cancer, isn't it worth it?"

I hope the rest of this reply doesn't sound too harsh, but I wanted you to know that it honestly cut so deep that it made me cry. My own experience with HPV was incredibly traumatic as it was, and hearing someone casually dismiss the feelings of the person who has it like this breaks my heart. The mental breakdown I suffered after my diagnosis got me involuntarily committed, no joke, and the virus didn't even end up affecting my life, or my cervix.

The abnormal cell growth went away on its own, I now test negative, the end. HPV is so ridiculously common, and you expect people to remain abstinent for years, even though the vast majority don't even know they have it and never will? Disclosure isn't good enough? You honestly expect the minority of people who have symptoms to quarantine themselves and reject any and all opportunities for a meaningful connection with another human being? Do you have any idea what that would feel like?

Your post affected me so deeply because when I found out, that was what I thought I had to do. Once I educated myself (the CDC is a good resource on HPV), I learned that my perception of this virus had been shaped by sex ed scare tactics and gardasil ad campaigns. I suggest you brush up on the opinions of actual medical professionals before you start telling millions of Americans to go years without intimate contact.

Or, in other words, no. It's not worth it at all. I refuse to silently martyr my love life for the potential future good of a potential future lady, and I would never in a million years have expected the person I got it from to do that for me. This is a virus that a lot of people have and that a comparatively *microscopic* number of people die from, since it's usually caught very early and successfully treated.

@Nymph I don't mean to be harsh here, but I'm seriously about to give you a "Really?" Seth-and-Amy style. But are you being serious? You want women who have been diagnosed with HPV (super common) to be celibate for 2 years? Oh so you're single, go to the gyn, get an HPV diagnosis, and BOOM no sex for 2 years? Not only is that the most unreasonable, unrealistic, and quite frankly ridiculous suggestion I've ever heard, but wow, way to have some compassion.

Don't have a normal adult dating life for 2 years because of a pretty low-risk virus that most people will get? Please evaluate how devastatingly insulting that suggestion is, not to mention unrealistic and judgmental and oh my god I'm going to stop now.

But REALLY? That is a cruel suggestion.

Peanut Butter

@canary @S. Elizabeth I have HPV, yo. For about four months. I've been educating myself like crazy. I'm going to have to change my name and such because that's my picture/real nickname and I don't want me having hpv to be googleable.

Yeah. It's not something you are going to have for life. So why stress a self-imposed celibate year or two? And PIV and unprotected oral sex isn't the only intimate contact. You could still be incredibly intimate and safe. And I'm not going to even judge if someone goes barebacking around town knowing she has hpv. I just expect that people are aware of the harm they could cause and not just brainwashed on the 'lala, almost everyone gets it' stuff.

I have had a lot of sex in the three years I've been active. I've pretty much never not been having regular sex. I love having sex. But I can do without. Because of my morals and stuff. Do what you want. I'm not going to try to slutshame anyone. But don't pretend that Bad Things aren't a realistic result.

@Peanut Butter I'm not saying that Bad Things aren't a realistic result. I'm saying that expecting celibacy for 2 years after an HPV diagnosis is unrealistic at best and awful at worst. There are ways to minimize risk of transmission that don't involve a chastity belt.

I really hope you're not implying that my morals are questionable because I think self-imposed chastity is an unrealistic, cruel expectation. Because that would be really shitty and reductive.

Peanut Butter

@S. Elizabeth I've never actually seen anyone suffer for lack of sex.

And I find disclosure being the end all as being sort of troublesome. Ideally it makes all the sense. But there isn't a man test (again... get on this, science). Just because you disclose doesn't mean the person is going to disclose to the next person. And if it's a man who (may or may not) have hpv, he might not disclose or misunderstand it. So I think people who do get hpv and want to still boink should be more careful about who they sleep with, make sure that those people are the types of people who would disclose to future partners that they had been exposed, and adopt a very conservative approach to when they have sex (aka, 'I'm doing this because love/deep affection/relationship' vs. 'I am drunk and horny'). So, my intention isn't slut-shamey but moderation shamey.

Sarah Rain

@Peanut Butter "I've never actually seen anyone suffer for lack of sex." Our definitions of “suffer” must differ.

canary

@Peanut Butter Well, I hate to break it to you, but it's not realistic to imagine that you or I (one solitary HPV carrier out of millions) will make any dent in the cancer risk of random future strangers through our individual celibacy. Don't pretend that would be statistically significant. =/

ETA: just so you know, since HPV only requires skin-to-skin or bodily-fluid-to-skin contact to spread (that's why it's so common), there is, in fact, no sexual activity you can do that would completely eliminate risk. Unless you're talking about both parties remaining partially clothed while wearing latex gloves--people can contract HPV by touching someone else's genitals and then touching their own. So, while it may sound very sex-positive in your head when you say "there are other ways to have fun," actually there are very few. Most people would rather not have their sex lives consist of toy play with gloves on.

@Peanut Butter But @Nymph's original assertion was self-imposed celibacy for 2 years, and that is what I'm responding to -- that in Nymph's world, you shouldn't even have sex with that special someone.

And I don't like moderation-shaming, either. I prefer nondisclosure-shaming, as it's much more effective in preventing the spread of a virus.

Peanut Butter

@canary I'm not pretending it would be statistically significant. I'm saying that if one person doesn't get it as a result of me it's worth it. I know girls like me are pretty much just going to get it, as you all are saying, but what about that girl that only has one or two life time sexual partners? Does she deserve no thought?

I mean, who *needs* to hook up? And I question the amount of men who actually understand hpv. I'm also somewhat confused by the internet. Because so many places are like, "Men usually kick it in six months!" but in the same breath say that there is no test for men. Then how do you know when they get done with it, science??? If it was like that for ladies, where almost everyone was done with it in six months, but a small percentage got cancer, would you think it was reasonable to say no to hooking up for six months?

@S. Elizabeth ! I'm not saying that! I'm saying you have to sit down and really, really think.I would say in today's date-y world people have sex a lot, and people are doing it before even being in a relationship. If you can't decide someone is your special someone, in for the long haul special someone, without fucking first I'd say that's more of a problem than say, being able to take it easy for two years. (Remember, there are some people who go on dates! and get to know each other! and make out a lot! and become facebook official! before even having sex. Is there flaw in that? I bet that would weed out more losers than waiting until everyone is horny and naked in bed to tell them you have some ickies (hpv... hsv... whatever) in your lady bits.)

@Peanut Butter Yup, I get that there are a lot of people who do the facebook official/dating/get-to-know-you thing before having sex. However, there are a lot of people who choose not to, and it's realistic to expect people in their 20s to want to have sex with someone they're dating, or fuck it, to figure out if they're compatible sexually, or to want to connect with someone. The idea that your suggestions (which are mighty conservative, and probably work well for you, and wouldn't work for me because of the way I choose to conduct my own life/relationship) should be the way we deal with epidemiological issues is just unreasonable.

People are going to have sex whether you like it or not, whether you think promiscuity is bad or unhealthy or wrong, or whether you think people who have sex before facebook-official status is reached are slutty. Your argument is based upon the idea that dating patterns should be changed to minimize the spread of a virus that statistically, most adults have already had.

If you personally think that not slutting it up because you find that to be your moral prerogative, I think that's noble. But to suggest that others follow suit as a means of minimizing risk of transmission of HPV is unreasonable and unrealistic, because telling grown-up people that they should wait for the special someone to have sex is ridiculous. I really hope you understand how unreasonable your suggestion is.

And let's not call them "ickies." They're viruses. Adding stigma isn't cool.

PistolPackinMama

@S. Elizabeth All this has me thinking like a medical anthropologist. Which I am not, but still. Mostly, if intercultural medicine/intervention has shown us anything, it is this: you cannot devise successful interventions based on the behavior/beliefs you want people to have. You must do so based on the beliefs and behaviors that actually exist. Moreover, the most successful interventions come from inside the communities, rather than from the outside.

So, in the urban American same-sex-partner having communities of the 80's and 90's, HIV prevention was successfully organized around protection, safer sex behavior, knowing your status, disclosure and communication.

In Uganda (before their Kill Teh Gays legislation, which... ugh), they dropped their infection of HIV rate by an astonishing rate with programming that focused on "have sex only with your spouse/s. Don't have a wife/boyfriend and then have girlfriend/big men boyfriends on the side." (Uganda also didn't really include their young urban same sex havers in this model, but they could have, if they weren't terribly homophobic...)

We know how well preaching abstinence/restriction of partners works in the US with pretty much everyone. (Answer... not well) Similarly, when NGOs started promoting condom use with all partners over and above the restrtictive/abstinent model in Uganda... infection rates started to take an uptick.

We can say all we like "it's your fault if you engage in risky behavior (for a given value of risk)." But honestly, when we devisers of interventions insist on imposing really inappropriate models of prevention on populations, it is our fault.

We don't have public health experts in the US because they aren't creative and responsive to health problems. We have them because they are uniquely positioned to look at their own societies, assess what is really there in front of them, and then design programs that deal with realities, not with idealized (and ideologically powered) situations.

canary

@Peanut Butter "I know girls like me are pretty much just going to get it, as you all are saying, but what about that girl that only has one or two life time sexual partners? Does she deserve no thought?"

Put simply, no, she does not. Not from a stranger, anyway, and not in the way you're suggesting. If I disclose to a male partner, who subsequently discloses to her, she is a grown adult who can make her own decision about the risk. If he does not disclose to her, that is not my fault. If she takes the risk and has (extremely rare) severe consequences, that again is not my fault.

No one deserves to have some past stranger spend two years putting his or her hypothetical future needs above their own. Realistically, you are doing what you're doing for no other reason than to make yourself feel better--as likely as not, statistically speaking, the most you'll save someone is an abnormal pap. Or nothing. It might do nothing. And none of us deserves any better, particularly because people don't get viruses because they deserve them. This is not the 1500s. People get viruses because viruses are extremely good at replicating and getting themselves spread around as quickly and widely as possible.

Peanut Butter

@S. Elizabeth I don't think calling a virus an icky isn't unreasonable. I mean, having a cold is icky.

I also think that talking about it from the perspective of someone having sex with men and someone having sex with women is different. With the latter you're basically like "Are you willing to get hpv from this?" With the former you have to be absolutely sure they understand what they could be getting into, that they could give it to their future person and have no way of knowing until it's too late. And if you want to knowingly have sex with someone who isn't going to tell their future partners, just washing your hands and saying 'not my fault if someone gets sick' is really immature.

Will someone explain to me how not hooking up is super conservative? Was I the most conservative 9-year-old in the world, not getting cock? Am I some freak of nature and everyone else is walking around with a huge ache that can only be eased by glutting themselves on sex with tons of new people? Restraint isn't unreasonable. It's a choice, but it's not hard. You're not going to go through withdrawal.

Also, I originally said that it's unconscionable to seek out new sex partners. I think this. Maybe the reason so many people get hpv is, shock, because people think it's fine to go on hooking up with ALL the people no matter what is going on in their junk. Did I say it was wrong to still look for a romantic connection, or even a sexual connection with people you think are worth the risk? Though I think 'worth the risk' is attachment/deep affection and your argument is that 'worth the risk' is orgasm?

I had to end things with my wonderful open-relationship boyfriend because even though I am so sad not to be with him, I don't want his other lady types to catch hpv. So I'm not talking out of my ass. I think responsibility and having ideals is a good thing rather than something that should be bickered about.

canary

@Peanut Butter "And if you want to knowingly have sex with someone who isn't going to tell their future partners, just washing your hands and saying 'not my fault if someone gets sick' is really immature."

Not the case. First of all, thinking you can predict an individual's future behavior with anything close to perfect accuracy is immature. You have no way of knowing whether a given man will disclose in the future. Second, blaming the person who had a virus before the person you got it from for the virus you got is off-the-wall ridiculous. Also, you are assuming great immaturity on the part of women in general--you have to be "absolutely certain" that they understand HPV? No. We are adults. We are responsible for our own sex lives and ONLY our own sex lives. What you're doing is neither commendable nor condemnable; it's just a thing you're doing that probably won't ever affect another human being. Keep doing it, I guess? Whatever makes you happy, but remember that you're only doing it for yourself. You're playing the martyr because you want to believe that you're so moral that you would make this two-year sacrifice for a hypothetical strange who will MOST LIKELY not benefit from it in any way. If it helps you sleep at night, go for it, but that isn't how I live my life. I'm glad that what you're doing makes you feel special and moral, but you should be honest about the nothing you're actually doing for anybody else.

Also, you probably already gave it to your ex, or he may have been the one to give it to you. The day you got diagnosed is not the day you got it: you could have had it for years before it showed up on any type of test.

Peanut Butter

@canary Actually, I think I deserve better. I think inconveniencing yourself for others is part of human nature. We stay at home when we're contagious sick. We run errands for friends. We give money when there are tragedies. Not having sex with strangers is my way of being a good citizen right now. I also think it's the right thing to do. Is it the only way? No. Is it the best way? Yes. I mean, I'm not the type of person who carries around recyclable crap until I can find a recycling bin. Is that the best way do deal when you have a glass bottle? Yes. But at the same time I'm not littering. Sorry, any analogy I make is going to be either way more or way less serious than the actual thing I'm comparing it to.

@Peanut Butter

"So I think people who do get hpv and want to still boink should be more careful about who they sleep with, make sure that those people are the types of people who would disclose to future partners that they had been exposed, and adopt a very conservative approach to when they have sex (aka, 'I'm doing this because love/deep affection/relationship' vs. 'I am drunk and horny')."

That is what I think is unrealistic. And the fact that this is what you suggest to curtail the spread of HPV is what I find unreasonable, and the idea that sex should happen within the confines of a deeply affectionate or loving relationship, as opposed to "drunk and horny," or even "we've been dating for a few weeks but haven't settled down for the baby-making," or "not at a point in my life where I can handle a committed relationship" is unreasonable because it is very VERY difficult to change cultural norms surrounding sex.

My argument is actually not "worth the risk" orgasm. My argument is in terms of epidemiology, it is unreasonable to suggest that a huge array of people spontaneously change the way they date. You seem to think I'm advocating for us throwing our legs apart and spreading disease willy-nilly, which I am not. I'm saying that to prevent the spread of disease, one should understand both the science behind how a virus is spread as well as the cultural factors that contribute to it, and that a good solution to a problem is to work within that framework. And if that framework involves 20-somethings having one night stands, it is in the best interest of the society to accept that hard-to-swallow fact by acknowledging that it's not going to change.

And yeah, I'd say that a lot of 20-somethings would be pretty fucking upset if they couldn't have sex, and to suggest that this is wrong or bad or awful is counterproductive.

@canary *stands up, applauds*

@Peanut Butter I'd like to add: When HIV became an epidemic among gay men, most didn't refrain from having sex. What curtailed the spread of HIV/AIDS was condom use, testing, disclosure, and education. That is what I'm using as a successful model. Self-imposed chastity and self-imposed monogamy were not the suggested means of addressing an epidemic.

I'm starting to think that this is becoming more of a moral superiority issue for you than a productive, thoughtful conversation about the spreading of a usually harmless virus. And at the risk of sounding like a complete bitch, you sound incredibly naive and preachy in your inability to acknowledge the validity of other peoples' statements that are grounded in reality instead of your own moral compass.

canary

@S. Elizabeth Applause right back at ya :)

@canary *gives you a slutty high-five with skin-to-skin contact*

DrFeelGood

OMG this convo has gotten way out of hand. Summary: Since I have HPV, I guess I am supposed to call all the previous people I have apparently, even kissed or held hands with, since it can be spread skin-to-skin or saliva-to-skin? Ha. Hmm let me find those numbers to hrm that kid I kissed at summer camp 20 years ago, and oh that guy I danced with at a frat party 10 years ago. Oh wait, I should probably also tell my 2 year old nephew, hes kissed me before! Also friends, my dad, co-workers (what we hug!). They should know about this terrible affliction my slut-dom has brought upon them, even though they're all infected anyway, so.

slutberry

@S. Elizabeth @canary I think I am allergic to Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter

@S. Elizabeth I think you and other people have been putting words in my mouth this entire discussion. And isn't it also naive to think of sex as a human need, and that people in their twenties only have sex going for them?

I never said that ladies with hpv can't have sex. I'm just saying that I think people with hpv SHOULD be more conservative about sex. And I mean 'conservative' in a 'you should eat sweets conservatively' way, not in the way I think you think I'm meaning.

slutberry

@Peanut Butter As far as I can tell, the issue people are having is not your personal views on sex and sexuality, but the way you're trying to blanket your views over everyone else.

Honestly, HPV status is between a person and their partner. As with any sexual relationship, as long as they and their partner understand the situation, it is entirely their business whether or not they have sex. I agree that mentioning your status is important, but as long as the decision is an educated, mutual one between partners, it is nobody's business. At all.

@Peanut Butter

...For fuck's sake, are you kidding me? I'm... you know what? I'm honestly so enraged by how head-in-the-sand your comments are that I don't think you're capable of understanding the arguments I have repeated over and over and over and over and over.

-Expecting society to change is ridiculous.
-Telling people to change is unrealistic.
-Reacting to a problem by suggesting that people stop engaging in behavior is not as realistic as a solution as providing a means of lowering risk that will allow people to engage in their lives as they normally would.

AND ALSO:
a. it's really fucking naive to think that your personal views about How Things Should Be should trump well-researched public health policies.
b. calling me naive because I think sex is a basic human need is completely irrelevant and ineffective, and quite frankly a cheap shot that won't work. Because you know what? Sex may not be oxygen, or food, or water, but it's really important. It's a way that adult humans connect with each other, it's a way that we are intimate and build trust, it's a way that adults play, it feels amazing, and it's a big huge part of the human experience for most people. So discounting the importance of sex is ridiculous and not a very strong argument.
c. I'm 25. I'm in law school and one of the few law students out there with a job lined up in the field of my dreams. I'm smart and talented and confident in my abilities, I enjoy thinking and speaking and engaging with the world. I have a fantastic education, great work experience, and a work ethic that is quite frankly enviable. I'm dedicated to my family -- both biological and chosen -- and a kind, considerate human being. I love my girlfriend. I'm direct and have a big personality, and I am so, so happy with who I am and I have so much going for me, and I *still* think sex is important. Sex isn't important because I have nothing else going for me, but because it is a wonderful part of my experience as a person, because it is a beautiful, intimate way to connect to another human being, because it's so politicized that I cannot help but to revel in owning my body and what I do with it, and to make choices about my body and what I do with it by exercising my own autonomy. Sex is important because it's meaningful, because it feels good, because it's hot and fun and awesome. And that, Madame Peanut Butter, is not a reflection of my own feelings of value or self-respect. To imply that my criticism of your beliefs (that do not conflate with the way many people interpret effective policy surrounding disease control) is a reflection of the feelings of 20-somethings is fucking absurd.

slutberry

@S. Elizabeth PREACH

PistolPackinMama

@sniffadee Also, I think if you are a person who has had experiences where you've been told:

1) you are a bad person for liking sex

2) you have had your sexual autonomy diminished by law, policy, social attitude, or abuse

3) you live somewhere, where inappropriate sexual behavior punishable by death legally or with tacit social approval (subset of 2)

4) you have had access to information about and measured education in sexual behavior limited

... then sexuality and the freedom to make choices about it? Pretty darned crucial. It's only a little thing if you haven't had those things taken from you.

To tell someone that liking, wanting, valuing or whatever else of sex is not an acceptable part of the human experience... is pretty entitled.

Peanut Butter

@S. Elizabeth This thread has gotten very frustrating for me because you keep on making things personal. Please be aware that you are making this uncivil. (i.e. stop attacking me instead of my ideas)

I never said once that everyone needs to cross their legs for two years. It's ideal, but no one is a bad person at all for not doing it. I think everyone can agree that the pleasure of drinking milk isn't worth the torture that cows go through in factory farms. Does that make everyone with a gallon in the fridge the devil? Not by a long shot. Right now I guess I'm being a sex vegan. Did I say everyone should be a sex vegan? No! Do I think it's the right thing to do? Yes! Do I think people are bad for not doing it? No! Am I right to think that people hooking up right and left are being selfish? Yes. I didn't say that I expect society to change? No. Did I say that there was anything wrong with safe sex and disclosure? No!

So, please, if you feel so strongly about this subject that you're going to continue to put words and ideas in my mouth may I suggest that you just go blog about this?

Peanut Butter

@sniffadee Thanks for the personal attack. I'm glad that my sacrifice for the good of others makes you think, paradoxically that I'm not someone with feelings.

PistolPackinMama

@Peanut Butter I think you'll find that the old feminist position that "the personal is political" is alive and well around here.

From my point of view, you're using your own personal narrative and values to establish why you are right. You're using their personal experiences and values to tell them why they are wrong. It's a personal discussion.

Don't be defensive about people using your own argument structure to take apart your position, when you've helped set the conversation up to include those elements.

I haven't put my own personal dog in this fight, so I don't feel like I have to defend or attack the way people are using the positionality to inform what they say. Usually, I think making things personal is actually fine- I don't have a problem that you are doing it, even though I disagree with your actual point of view.

Also (and I am a very blunt person, so there is that) I don't read her as being particularly uncivil, just really, really emphatic and less and less indirect because you don't seem to be hearing her.

Also, I am a very big supporter of using really good research to back up things like safer sex intervention plans. "My own ethical position that is not backed by science/social science but does take a symbolic stand on STI transmission?" Perfectly fine as a personal way to be in the world.

It is not, however, going to be a plan that gets you CDC funding for bus stop advertising and college dorm leaflet distribution because you aren't showing us the evidence that it will do anything more than be symbolic.

Peanut Butter

@PistolPackinMama "From my point of view, you're using your own personal narrative and values to establish why you are right. You're using their personal experiences and values to tell them why they are wrong. It's a personal discussion." But that's the thing! I'm not saying other people are wrong or that everyone should do what I'm doing. It's infuriating that someone decided that just because I have a philosophy that I self impose, but never implied that I will or have imposed it on another person, I am somehow calling up the fucking cdc and going into schools and telling kids this is the only way to be!

I am hearing her, but I think she is putting words in my mouth, and then arguing against things I didn't say. Which is frustrating.

OK, so it's like if someone had written an article about trimming your own bangs and I replied with "Well, I just use safety scissors for mine." and then so many people start replying to that and saying, "Why are you telling people to do that? WHAT ABOUT THE SPLIT ENDS? YOU ARE A TERRIBLE INFLUENCE AND ALSO NAIVE." Just because I said what I'm doing, and what makes me happy and what might prevent another lady from getting hpv, doesn't mean I am in any way saying other people must do it or else I won't respect them, or that they are wrong... I think I would have gotten fewer comments if my plan was just 'sleeping with ALL the men as long as I whisper 'i have hpv' moments before they slip their penis in me.'

And I feel like the other commenters have a lot of emotional weight into me somehow being a slut shaming, pro-abstinence devil.

Peanut Butter

@PistolPackinMama And I said people should reconsider their sexual habits once getting hpv. Basically, "Is having sex with this one person ONCE worth that person's next partner getting hpv?" If you say yes to that, fine it's your choice. But having hpv means you should at least sit and look at your relationship to sex, and your sexual habits, like, 'I need to be more careful to wear condoms every time/ I need to be more proactive about asking people if they have been tested recently.'

And I don't think it's unreasonable to expect others to be introspective when they have a virus that could (no matter how small the chance) give them or a sexual partner/future partner's partner cancer. But please, tell me how you think I'm wrong and a bad person for thinking this way! I've been getting a lot of it!

canary

@Peanut Butter Here are some direct quotes from you that I found incredibly offensive:

"I think it's unconscionable to seek out new sex partners while you know you are positive for hpv." Using a word like 'unconscionable' does NOT imply "my personal decision who cares what you do." It means you believe something is always wrong. It means that even though you claim not tot judge us for it, you think we're doing something wrong.

"I've never actually seen anyone suffer for lack of sex."

"So I think people who do get hpv and want to still boink should be more careful about who they sleep with, make sure that those people are the types of people who would disclose to future partners that they had been exposed, and adopt a very conservative approach to when they have sex (aka, 'I'm doing this because love/deep affection/relationship' vs. 'I am drunk and horny')."

"I'm saying you have to sit down and really, really think. [...] If you can't decide someone is your special someone, in for the long haul special someone, without fucking first I'd say that's more of a problem than say, being able to take it easy for two years."

"And isn't it also naive to think of sex as a human need?"

^ For these three together: Sex itself is not a moral or immoral action. The reasons for doing it do not make it more or less so. Sex is an integral part of the human experience on earth, the only way we are able to reproduce, and a vital component of pair bonding. People who hook up left and right are doing nothing selfish. They are doing the exact same thing as someone who has sex with "that special someone," because sex itself is a NEUTRAL thing to do. Okay? As you speak, people are getting upset with you because you're ascribing a moral weight to an action which does not have one.

"I'm just saying that I think people with hpv SHOULD be more conservative about sex. And I mean 'conservative' in a 'you should eat sweets conservatively' way, not in the way I think you think I'm meaning."
Right here is where you said, verbatim, "I think people with hpv should [X]." You said what you thought everyone else should do. You had no business saying that.

"Am I right to think that people hooking up right and left are being selfish? Yes."
No, you are not right. This statement is too vague to really call "inaccurate," but the sentiment behind it is far, far, far, far from a universal truth.

slutberry

@Peanut Butter I'm sorry about the allergic comment-- I know that was out of line, and I regretted it *just* too late to delete it.

But I actually am allergic to peanut butter!

OMGwhat

@Peanut Butter Why two years? What's so magic about those two years that makes a person with HPV no longer "icky," as you put it. BTW, I DID get the HPV that causes cancer. Chemofuckingradation no more babies kind of cancer. And you better believe I've done a lot of fucking research on it, too, because HPV has been my LIFE for the past three years. And I can you that the only thing they really know for sure is that they don't know anything for sure.

heynonny

This isn't my usual account, yay STDs, but I just wanted to let people know that you can get both "oral" and "genital" herpes in either place. Not to freak anyone out, but I think a lot of people might not know this? So be careful with cold sores, and with oral sex!

Also, the British are a lot less weird about herpes than the Americans, I think? So their stuff might be a good place to look for anyone who's having a hard time.

PotatoPotato

@heynonny: Re: the British being less weird about it, I ended up on a US-based support group website. Everyone was wailing and gnashing teeth, and then some British commenter was all, "Um, dudes, it's a mild skin condition. We don't really freak out about it here, we just take meds for it."

soleil

@heynonny My experience (I'm an American living in London for 5 years and I got herpes 4 years ago) has been generally Not That Bad. But then I've only slept with British guys since getting it, so maybe that's why?

KJH
KJH

@heynonny i agree - all the British people I know, men in particular, are not at a fazed. My most recent (female, American) parnter had a really hard time with it.

JustAGirl

@heynonny Don't you bloody believe it. The thing I find, living here, is that Brits tend to be really cool about coldsores, and often aren't even aware they are infectious (just icky), and that a worrying number of people have NO IDEA that coldsores and herpes are the same thing, that coldsores can give you genital herpes, that both strains can be found in both places, what the heck ocular herpes is - the level of ignorance, pre-diagnosis (and consequent panic-researching) is CRAZY. I speak for myself too, I might add. And the same goes for HPV - before Jade Goody and her cervical cancer, your average person would have seen no connection whatsoever between genital warts and cancer, would have had no idea that genital warts were an incurable virus, etc, etc. Most Brits are totally chilled up until you say 'herpes', then they back up like you've said you've got the plague. Or maybe that's just the ones I know. I gutsed up and told my parents, and they were totally baffled. "That's not herpes, that's a cold sore!" Seriously.

Thess

This post is awesome. I got HSV 1 from oral sex maybe 7 or 8 years back, but didn't really understand what I had (the sores were always gone by the time I made it to the gyno and for years they were totally unhelpful at actually bothering to help me figure out what the deal was), but I finally got a proper test and diagnosis last year after a (rare) outbreak. I didn't have to have the conversation because I was already in a relationship when I found out I had it and we had been sleeping together for years. I told my partner, but I honestly I think he kind of tuned me out. Also, knowing that it's the cold sore one makes me a lot less scared of it somehow. At this point it's pretty much a nonissue aside from the fact that it really sucks to get an outbreak every now and then. Maybe this is weird, but if I was dating again and someone had HSV1 I don't think I'd expect them to have the talk with me since pretty much everyone has it...

somethingobscure

Love this story. I can't believe that ok Cupid sends people to another site! Wtf.

Peanut Butter

@somethingobscure Well, on the site there are thousands of user-generated questions. So it could have been the other site trying to get new business?

S Hanna

I got HSV-2 from a long-term boyfriend who was unfaithful, and reading postings like this are amazingly, wonderfully, uplifting. While I am very comfortable with myself, realizing that I'm still the same wonderful, loveable person I was previously, I haven't had the need to disclose this yet. Reading this was such an amazing life high-five, and such a great confidence booster for when that time comes. Thank you, Lady, for sharing this!

carolita

@S Hanna the thing to remember, though, is that it's not always something that a bad person gives you, even if in your case your unfaithful BF was the one who gave it to you. You could just as easily have caught it from a faithful, sweet, honest, loving BF who simply didn't know he had it, or was a symptomless carrier. It's not a punishment for being too trusting or too promiscuous, and it's not something you only catch from unfaithful or bad people. It's really a very democratic little virus. Anyway, I just thought that might make you feel better, too.

soleil

I AM SO GLAD THAT SOMEONE WROTE THIS. In fact, I had actually been thinking about writing this exact same piece for the hairpin. Thank you.

Along with many of the things that have been said in the comments, I would just add that in my experience, one of the things that frustrates me is that people (the very few I've told) immediately assumed I got herpes from a cheating ex because he cheated. But nope, I got it from a lovely faithful guy, when we'd both "been tested for everything" and decided to stop using condoms. I hold no hard feelings against him because he had no idea he had it and we made what we thought was an informed, reasonable decision given that we were in a monogamous relationship. Oh well.

And it really has been a cloud with a silver lining. Medically it's a Non-Issue. I get outbreaks very, very occasionally. Who cares. Emotionally it's been up and down, mostly just down when I have to tell someone new, but then every single time it's been fine. In fact, when I told my current boyfriend (who I've been with for a year and a half) he LAUGHED. Because he was worried that the reason I was being so weird about having sex for the first time with him was "because of something bad".

My advice to telling someone: Do it when you're drunk. I personally have tried not to have the conversation too far into nearly having sex, because I think it's fair to give them a day or so to think about it if they need to instead of just assuming that an immediate freak-out means they can't handle it. I don't know how I would have handled hearing my partner had herpes if I had had the chance to get told before I got it...

kitkat88

I don't mean to attack or shame the author here, but I do think it is irresponsible for her to wait until clothes come off to disclose her status. Herpes isn't that big of a problem for most people, but it can be a really big deal for immunocompromised people and it can cause some really intense problems even in otherwise healthy individuals. I would consider having sex with a person who disclosed their HSV status in a neutral situation because it would show that they respect my right to make an informed decision. I would definitely not have sex with someone that knowingly waited to tell me until we were in a situation that would require me to make a decision immediately.

redheaded&crazy

@kitkat88 I agree with this, not even from the perspective of it being irresponsible but just from the standpoint of feeling like it would be more effective to let people think about it, maybe do some research, whatever. because in the heat of the moment i'm not going to be like "ooh let me look up how effective condoms are at protecting against" but, that is something i would want to know! etc

Diana

@kitkat88

I think I would end up feeling manipulated, even if that wasn't necessarily that person's intent. Like you deliberately encouraged me to get all het up so I'm far less likely to think critically about my choices and then BAM? I would not sleep with that person, not because of their herpes, but because I'd be way too pissed off and would stomp all the way home.

Porn Peddler

@kitkat88 I'm so glad this is getting out there in this post. I bristled at that. I do completely understand-- obviously it's awkward to jump right into "so listen I think our genitals are going to collide but I should tell you beforehand..." and oh dear, I can't even imagine how hard it is, really, but I'm fairly sure on a bad day I would open-hand slap someone for disclosing their STI status once all the clothes came off. Aside from risks it might pose to immunocompromised people, just....don't pull those last minute reveals, that's...coercive and alarming. It's a high-pressure situation. And a tiny naked feminist might slap you in the face and storm out of your house out of pure frustration. Not that I would never bone someone with an STI like HSV, but I want to know that shit before I'm dripping wet, thanks, because the disclosure is prob a mood-killer and I'd be in no state to actually give it any thought.

PistolPackinMama

@Third Wave Housewife I was thinking about this overnight, and have decided this is one of those "okay, so, you can't know someone won't pull a big reveal. What do you do with that information" cases for me.

And, I think the answer probably is, if I care about this issue, it's on me to ask at a useful point in the process, before I've lost my damn mind. And, while it might be hard, to not lose it if the reveal came at inconvenient time. It seems like people freaking out is a major reason HSV+ posters here have roadblocks to disclosing. I'd probably be mad-ish, I think. But for the sake of every other person who comes after me, I'd rather not be a character in a shamefaced "and then she lost her shit and cried" comment on the internet from an HSV+ commenter.

Of course. Easier said than done. I do realize in theory and in real life are two different things.

Porn Peddler

@PistolPackinMama I completely agree with you and totally recognize how I am kind of an asshole for admitting that I would probably freak out. I guess I should include the information that I freak out about A LOT of things when I'm about to fuck-- emotions are just running too high and anything even slightly surprising or unpleasant can send me SCREEEEEEEEEAMING. Like. I just know that would not fly with me because a lot of things don't (I have ~issues~ with sex, or did? Do? I set a lot of boundaries and rules for myself and take a lot of precautions i.e., I am a control freak, and last minute reveals/surprises/any comment that changes things or could possibly be construed as negative/insulting miiiiiight me completely lose it in the actual screaming in your face way) In short...surprise me in bed at your own risk.

I just believe pretty strongly that ideal consent involves sharing risk factors and boundaries before boners happen- anything more significant than "don't hold my arms down"/"no oral"/that kind of simple request can provoke a pretty serious reaction when you're in a situation of heightened emotions, lowered inhibitions, and generally in the realm of body and not mind. In short, I am not someone who can attain that take-it-as-it-comes zen. I neeeeeed to prepare in advance and know things etc., though I understand certain things can't be predicted or avoided.

Just...being put on the spot. Yikes. If you say it's fine, would you have done the same given advance notice? Would you have even given it any thought or would you base your response on stigma and fear? And if you decide not to bone (right that second or at all) the assumption seems to be that you're uninformed/an asshole when you might just think "I don't trust myself to make that call right now in this high-pressure situation"/"I don't know what I want to do yet"/"I have other partners that I would implicate in this risk of STI transmission" I kind of want to delete that comment, in retrospect, because wow, that comes off as horrible of me, I am the problem...but I guess now that I've posted it I'll live with it. Now y'all know that I've been hiding the fact that I am Patrick Bateman.

Porn Peddler

Ugh now I have made it seem as if I am absolutely no fun in bed. I am! I just need to KNOW THINGS and VOICE BOUNDARIES WITH CERTAINTY. And "please disclose communicable infections before taking your clothes off" is...definitely a boundary.
Plus I really haven't done any screaming/freaking out pre-sexytimes in a long time. But oh boy I have had some fucking meltdowns in the past.

PistolPackinMama

@Third Wave Housewife aw, TWHW. Don't get me wrong. I wrote all that out because I am more inclined to be like you than I am to be all chill and NBD about something like that. No judgement here, I promise.

FWIW, your description of yourself sounds a lot like experiences/perspectives a lot of my lady-friends have had. It's not so out of the common way, really, to feel like you do. We just don't talk a lot about that because apparently SPONTANEOUS YOU MUST HAVE FUN NOW is what we think sex should be?

I gotta go to work, so no more time to comment. Just... you not a jerkface.

Porn Peddler

@PistolPackinMama I am super pro-talking-about-it, obviously, especially now that I am in a position to have sex with people other than my partner. I know that I'm going to have to have a few supposedly uncomfortable conversations about what is and is not on the table, STIs, and physical, emotional, social, and sexual boundaries. Really, I think talking about things in advance would avoid a lot of dissatisfaction and insecurity about sex. Spontaneity is fun! Of course it is! And who hasn't done something before actually thinking/talking about it? Whateva! But who hasn't had an avoidable shitty experience? If you want to do the sex with me, we're going to sit across from each other at this table, have a cup of tea, and lay down the goddamn law first...and if you want, we can totally go on a date to Planned Parenthood before getting nasty.

And then I'm going to fuck the shit out of you and you'll never be the same again.

redheaded&crazy

@Third Wave Housewife yeah I actually feel like I have compromised myself/my values a lot of times in my sexual history and it's frustrating because I want to be able to talk about things beforehand and I dunno, I'm not good at it. I have become a lot better at setting boundaries of what is and is not okay for my emotional/sexual health (which are obviously very tied into each other).

Part of the problem being of course that I love sex! So I often jump into things I shouldn't, also I'm very impatient. And I always think I can handle things and then it turns out I can't. I guess that's a fairly common problem. Ech.

kitkat88

@PistolPackinMama So, full disclosure of where I am coming from with this: I am a medical student and last week I was sent to exams in the school clinic for educational purposes. During one exam I inadvertently triggered a teenage girl that had been sexually assaulted, and since then I have been struggling to reconcile my self-image as a good person with the fact that I did this pretty terrible thing. I could have conducted a more through patient interview, I could have done the interview in a more neutral environment, and I could have been more through in explaining exactly what was going to happen - but I didn't. I was behind and I didn't want the attending to think badly of me, so I rushed.

Anyways, I think that if an HSV+ person waits to disclose their status until their potential partner partner has an erection then that HSV+ person deserves any freak-outs that are coming their way. People feel really damn vulnerable when they are in sexual situations/in a state of undress, and it is morally wrong to try to use that vulnerability to pressure someone into making choices they wouldn't otherwise make. I know being rejected in that situation would probably make an HSV+ person feel bad, but people should feel bad for trying to force someone to give their less-than-informed-consent.

Also, I don't think I am the only person that knows a bunch of dudes with complicated medical histories. The disease-having dudes that I know tend to get really upset when they are confronted with activities that "normal" people can do but they can't, especially if the activity is "manly." I know it sucks for HSV+ person to be rejected, but I suspect that immunocompromised guys would also walk away from that situation feeling like they are a freak that can't do "normal" things. Disability and disease are hard for everybody, especially when sexuality comes into play.

I don't know, maybe I am trying to moral-high-horse everybody after I made some bad moral decisions myself. I just wish people would realize how dangerous and cruel it is to play fast and loose with other people's sexual boundaries.

PistolPackinMama

@kitkat88 I do not disagree with you at all. I think disclosure sooner rather than later is always going to be the better choice. I think the person who is HSV+ has to be a big girl/boy and make it their responsibility to handle these things openly, for the reasons you are giving.

I am saying, also, that I am not HSV+, so at the moment, my only role in this scenario would be on the other end of a big reveal. In which case, I think, yeah, the other person shouldn't be surprised if I did freak out if they popped that information on my mid-make-out.

But I would rather not, you know? That would be better for me and my wellbeing, and probably would be better for my partner, too, I expect. I'd like to pass that person on to their next partner more ready to do the right thing. I don't think anyone else has that responsibility. I just think I would prefer that, for myself.

I am sorry about your experience at work. I would really struggle with my feelings/thoughts/lesson-learned if it were me in your shoes, too.

rivetingrosie

This was such a great article. Thanks for sharing.

whimseywisp

Thank you thank you thank you. So well written and totally classic Hairpin.

ann aunamis

My best friend from college got herpes in high school, and she's happily married with two kids now. So apparently life does go on. She found someone wonderful and so will you, HSV+ girl.

Waiting

You are really brave for publishing this article, and it is so important for girls and women to read. Thanks.

boxlady

HSV-1 lady, I salute you. I know a bit about disclosing health issues to one's partner, since I have pelvic pain (that's decreasing although it will probably be an issue for a while. UGH. FML.)

On another note, I wanted to express how confused I am re: HSV and also HPV. I mean, I am a pretty informed person, and I have read up on the subjects, but I still don't understand why on one hand, both viruses are so common (and most of us have been exposed) and why, on the other hand, we're taught to fear them so deeply. I mean, which is it? And is it really almost impossible to prevent the spread of HSV (or HPV?) Or genital warts? (I mean impossible even with a condom. I like my men to wrap.that.shit.up.) And should we be taking precautions like dental dams? And are these viruses really such a big, life-altering deal? Someone HALP!!! I am so confused. Personally, I DO want to avoid getting herpes because frankly, herpes + pelvic pain= a fucking monster roadblock in my sex life. Seriously. (Also, because of my pain issues, I'm to avoid feeling or inducing pain when at all possible, because pain can set off a cycle of worse and worse pain. Good times!) Anyways, I just wanted to say that I am confused. We should have a column called Ask an STI Doctor!

PotatoPotato

@boxlady: I think people are afraid of them because, unlike bacterial STIs, HSV and HPV are viral, they're easily spread (skin to skin), and it's hard to know who has them. Both are difficult to test for, and they don't always show symptoms. Both can be spread even when using a condom in the traditional PIV way. And, while the body can fight off HPV eventually, there's not a whole lot you can do to rid your body of either one. Your immune system has to fight of HPV on its own, and you can only really treat the symptoms. For HSV you can take medication that will suppress and shorten outbreaks, but until they come up with some new treatment that doesn't exist yet, you'll never be rid of it. People don't like things that they can't treat with a massive dose of antibiotics and be rid of. And all of that about transmission? SCAREY. (Condoms do help prevent transmission, btw, it's just not 100%. Dental dams and Rx pills also cut down on transmission rates.)

Also, I think a lot of it has to do with our prudish, non-sex positive culture. They're permanent or semi-permanent markers that indicate that This Person Has Had Sex. That's where all the jokes come from indicating that having herpes = being a slut, when 1) that's not always the case and 2) it shouldn't matter or be anyone's business. I hope to never tell my family about my HSV+ status, because then I have to tell them that I've had sex, and they are NOT. OK. with sex before marriage.

rosaline

@boxlady On fear of HSV: according to that Great Resource Wikipedia, there didn't used to be any stigma to herpes the way there was for other STDs, but then the pharmaceutical companies came up with a drug to suppress HSV outbreaks. Since no one cared, they created a stigma through marketing, and this is why we all have the idea of "good herpes" (oral) and "bad herpes" (genital). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herpes_simplex#Society_and_culture

So we have marketing to blame for both diamond engagement rings AND herpes scares!

PotatoPotato

@rosaline: That is fucking EVIL.

kimkrypto

@rosaline holy god, that's so messed up. oh man. those assholes.

boxlady

@boxlady @PotatoPotato

Thanks for the thoughtful responses, everyone! You're right, of course, that condoms aren't 100% effective in preventing the spread of HSV/HPV, I was being a little hyperbolic. So...peeps! Wrap it up anyways! I think you've all given thoughtful answers which indicate why there's a discrepancy between the seriousness of these viruses and the way in which we view them. I guess I'm always puzzled by the alarmist rhetoric. Like, people would make themselves scared over almost nothing? Just because? But WHY? Aghh...

Porn Peddler

@boxlady Everyone said thoughtful things already, but genital herpes can be painful (as can oral herpes, as some commenters have pointed out!) and we have a lot of socially mediated hangups about our genitals, especially those of us with vaginas and with regard to their appearance (and their relative "dirtiness"). As for HPV, that shit is everywhere (it causes all warts! not just the ones on your junk!) and some genital warts really can be painful and precancerous. We live in a dramatic culture that goes right for CERVICAL CANCER! WEEPING, RED, INFLAMED GENITALS!!!!! when it comes to two overwhelmingly common, generally harmless viruses.

And yeah it's more or less impossible, but there is a whole hell of a lot of risk reduction to be done. Because HPV can be transmitted by flakes of skin on your thighs, etc. SKIN FLAKES, YOU GUYS.

Vera Knoop

@Third Wave Housewife That's it; I'm getting rid of my skin. It is revolting!

slutberry

Does this mean I will always have to use condoms for oral? I mean, I'm not having sex right now, but I hate condoms. HATE. With a blind rage. But I also have pretty raging oral herps. (I also hate hormonal BC and am scared of IUDs. So. Um. the birth control thing will be fun once I decide to start having teh sex.)

Kira-Lynn@twitter

In terms of online resources, this is a new site: http://passtheherpes.wordpress.com/

Lenora Jane

@Kira-Lynn@twitter ACH! Awesome.

kimkrypto

Another Hairpin reader with HSV here. I've got both 1 and 2, and am asymptomatic. I find the stigma around it baffling and frustrating to live with, so much more so than the actual virus(es) itself. I spent months after my diagnosis feeling shitty about myself, but the author is so right when she says that dealing with non-shitty dudes helps me feel better.

NeverOddOrEven

@kimkrypto Speaking as someone who also has a disease (though not sexually transmitted), it really is funny how profound the upsides can be. Or even that there are any.

DrFeelGood

@kimkrypto Amen! After living through illnesses, and watching family members and close friends who have chronic illnesses - its staggering the # of juiceboxes out there. I feel like saying to the j-boxes out there, look, we're all going to get old/infirm/die, so you might as well be nice to the people that currently fall into one of these categories. Cause karmic retribution is a bitch.

Peanut Butter

OK. I was really surprised to learn that so many people have the oral herp? I had always assumed that it was just people being confused on what canker sores are! Also, off topic... canker sores suck.

birdlime

@Nymph Growing up, my parents always called canker sores "cold sores" and I only very recently figured out (ie, googled) the difference and realized that I've disclosed having a cold sore when really, it was a canker sore. It's pretty distressing that there's so much misinformation from people and internet (and even from doctors, as a commenter mentioned above) about herpes.

Peanut Butter

@birdlime Right? I would sometimes have 4-5 at a time or right after the other in high school, and I would be afraid to tell people about THE PAIN for fear someone would think I had herpes. Not that I was kissing anyone. Or that I should have been soooo concerned about people thinking I had cold sores. So, sti/std destigmatization all the way?

abigailnicole

@Nymph 90+% of adults are latent with HSV-1. It's super not a big deal! I promise!
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15623779

Peanut Butter

@abigailnicole Oh, I know, but you know, 16. WHAT IF SOMEONE THOUGHT SOMETHING UNTRUE OF ME???

Feminist Killjoy

lovely piece, thank you!

abigailnicole

As someone who works full-time in a herpes simplex laboratory, let me take this opportunity to spurt some facts. (I can even cite scientific publications, if it makes you feel better!)

There are eight human herpes-viruses, including HSV-1 (cold sore kind), HSV-2 (genital kind), and VZV (chicken-pox kind). According to my boss, who has been doing herpes research since the early 80s, all of us are latent with all of them. When our lab did swabbing of 50 random volunteers, twice a day, 49 of them shed HSV DNA in saliva tears or saliva at least once, even those who never reported having a fever blister or any signs of HSV. Most people contract HSV-1 or 2 at a very young age and--once you've had the initial outbreak--don't notice it. And the severity of initial outbreak can vary wildly from person to person! (Partially depending on your genotype! Are you ApoE4/E4? Only about 1% of the population is, but if so, then you're fucked.)

If I've learned one thing from working in this lab, it is: don't be scared of herpes. You already have it. It's coevolved with humans for 300 million years. There isn't an animal species we know of that doesn't have an associated herpesvirus. The bad and good news is that there are much scarier viruses out there! And even then, you have smart scientists working every day (and competing for lots of government money) to make them less scary for all of us.

Vera Knoop

@abigailnicole When I disclosed my HSV-1 to my wife (before our first real date), she basically said the last paragraph of your comment (she described it as "a friendly little virus") and then said that, as a woodwind and brass player, it was shocking that she didn't have it already.

Which is not to say that it's not sometimes painful and uncomfortable and gross-looking or that one shouldn't disclose. But it was awfully nice to hear, especially from someone I was falling for.

heynonny

@abigailnicole That is super interesting!

NeverOddOrEven

@abigailnicole SCIENCE! Love it. You must have a super interesting job.
It all just makes me really upset all over again at most sex ed. The whole scare-tactic, worst case scenario examples don't do anyone any good.
1. It can lead to late or no diagnosis and therefore more infection because people don't think it's anything unless it's that bad and
2. Enforces the SHIT out of stigma.

NeverOddOrEven

@abigailnicole And actually I'd love some sources. I just started training Planned Parenthood volunteers and one of the classes is STI basics. People usually have a lot of good, more in depth questions though, and none of us have medical backrounds or immediate resources.

slutberry

@abigailnicole Does being APOE4/E4 just make you have all the terrible herpes breakouts?

cheeriosforme

@abigailnicole can i ask you some questions? what is apoe4? when i called my gyno about being afraid of having contracted herpes, she was like well honestly if we tested you, it would say you'v been exposed to herpes. the only way to know for sure is if you break out and we test those spots (apparently the blisters/sores down there could be other things).
can you shed some light on this?
i've read that taking zinc, vitamin c and b, licorie and eating garlic help quell herpes outbreaks (i've been inundating my body with these since i had sex with someone that has herpes- hopefully this well help me fight off the virus? probably not. but it makes me feel better).
any insight would be extremely helpful!!

Brontosaurus

Thank you so much for writing this piece! I have some questions about testing. How conclusive are blood tests? I've heard a lot of different/confusing information about their accuracy.

Smeagle

Your experience almost exactly mirrors my own! Right down to the unfair mode of transmission. I, unfortunately though, had mine diagnosed in S. Korea. The initial doctor was very professional and described it benignly as, "herpatic fever" but subsequent doctors were downright rude and treated me as though I was in the country for the purposes of prostitution. Thank god I had a kick ass support system or I'm certain I would have come away from the experience with a definite complex. I have also found that having herpes has made me more positive in my selection process for a man-slave/partner. I am much more aware of how much a person cares for me. I've, luckily, only ever had one person freak out about the whole thing and most are very undersanding (which I owe partially to genuine care but mostly to undeniable horniness). One guy asked for a beer after I told him and we got wasted watching japanime cartoons. The next morning he decided it didn't matter - anyone he could could get drunk with and geek out with all night was good as gold in his books. :)

PistolPackinMama

@Smeagle Is Smeagle the beagle dog of Smeagol? Please say it is, because now I can just see Gollum in my head petting his hunting dog and going "whooose a good precious? Whoooooose a goood precccciousss? Gollum! Yes, it's an ear rub! An ear rub for the precious."

bureaukat

True story: A couple of years ago, I went to the doctor, he took one look at me & said, "Well, looks like you have genital warts." Since I did not have genital warts, I was confused. "Excuse me?"

This is verbatim:
"You have herpes. I mean, how many partners have you had in the last year?"
"One."
"Oh...you know, it actually doesn't look like herpes typically does."

It was a yeast infection. He was ready to diagnose me based on 1) what he assumed about me based on my age & non-married status and 2) clearly associates STIs with promiscuity. I'm still upset. And if I had herpes, what a horrible beginning to learning to deal with it.

slutberry

@bureaukat Did you punch him?

Lenora Jane

@sniffadee And if not, why not?

baked bean

@bureaukat Um... please tell me you got a new doctor! I can't believe people like that are practicing medicine!

bureaukat

Great questions! The answers are : no, unfortunately; because I was too busy feeling ashamed about being a slutty-slut; and alas, I still go to him, technically. I just ask to see his NP instead, because she is wonderful. She told me I was "cute as a bug" after a pelvic exam. So. I didn't ask for clarification. But it was nice, I think.

Lenora Jane

@bureaukat That's a legit real-world-o-compromises conclusion to the story I'd say! At least you are not directly seeing him anymore and you realize it was punchworthy in retrospect, which are the important points now? I guess?

carolita

It used to be that you had sex, you knew you risked catching something, and it was your own responsibility. In France, where I basically became an adult, I remember people talking about their herpes as if they had a cold. It was not a big deal. The difference between oral herpes and genital herpes was barely made, too. Herpes was herpes. I remember I had an irritation after wearing a g-string all week, and asked if anyone knew about herpes because I had a friend who'd dated the guy I was seeing, and she had herpes. I wondered if I'd caught it. And I wasn't all strangled with apprehension when I asked. I just sort of wondered, you know? I co-worker just upped and said, "Oh, I have herpes! Tell me all about it, and I'll tell you if that's what it is." In fact, the only time I saw it treated with stigma was when I came back the the USA. Immediately I began to be shocked by nasty remarks about Paris Hilton's Valtrex prescriptions on Jay Leno, Conan (I still love him, but still, I was disappointed), really, everywhere. And people I knew who had it here were just so ashamed of it and afraid to tell anyone. Do you realize there are support groups for HSV positive people, where they just go on and on about how it's ruined their lives and how afraid they are of being found out by their families? It's the saddest thing ever. (I'm the kind of person you can tell anything, so I get a lot of stuff shared with me. Hey, my dad was a sailor, and went with golden-hearted prostitutes in his time, and even told me about it -- let's not get into the appropriateness of that now, though I think it's made me very openminded about sex and STD's, and just about any foibles a person can have, short of the criminally insane). Sex is a matter of life and death. Every time you have it, you can create a life, or you can end up with a contagious disease. That's just life. I've learned to see it that way. (Of course, this is why I use condoms: to minimize unnecessary risk.) I wish someone would give America a good talking to, and knock some sense into everyone. You're alive, that means you risk dying. We need to be responsible but not fearful.

PistolPackinMama

@carolita Usually I am only envious of French people for their access to cheese. But this attitude has expanded my list.

anonynon

@carolita I've heard this before, that Europeans are much more laid back and realistic about it, thanks for sharing. I need to move.

carolita

@anonynon You know, I think they're not so much laid back as accepting of the weaknesses of the human condition. Nobody wants to catch any diseases, anywhere. But we all know we're going to, one day or another. You know, I dated a guy who was mortally afraid of catching herpes. I didn't even bother to tell him about cold sores being herpes. I just ditched him, as there were other objectionable traits bugging me about him, anyway. I mean, who needs that kind of hypochondria in a partner?

Anyway, I really hope Europe is still as un-hysterical as they were when I lived there. It's possible the hysteria has crossed the ocean what with all the Valtrex ads trying to scare people into thinking they're walking contagion if they don't use their meds every day forever. But you shouldn't seek another country just because people here can be freaks about cooties. It's not a dealbreaker for everyone, after all. Plus, like it's been said, 80% of people have it already, and many don't even know it. If you worry about people's reactions, just get someone to take the test with you, the odds being they'll come up positive for it, too.

carolita

@PistolPackinMama Well, it's possible I just knew really cool people. Most were expats, too, so experienced in life overall. Meet people who've been around, seen things, done things, you'll find they're not nearly as judgmental about anything. But I do think in general people aren't as inclined to stigmatize STI's in Europe as they are over here.

carolita

BTW - I caught the cold sore (HSV1) from my first BF, and this is how: he had a cold sore and offered not to kiss me. Inexperienced that I was, I thought it was only a rumor that ignorant people spread that cold sores were contagious. So we kissed plenty. I got a tiny little cold sore on my lower lip the very next day, which I totally attacked with alcohol till it ran for the hills screaming and dried out. Then I was like, dang, I guess I was wrong! And that was that. Admittedly, I might have refrained from kissing him if I'd known, but I figured I could catch it someday anyway, even without a cold sore evident, so it was probably a moot point. Sooner or later I'd have kissed someone with that virus and caught it, I figured. Kids get it from their parents all the time. I've had maybe three little outbreaks in my life.

itsfrantastic

Fuuuck. This is absolutely incredible. I loved this. Thanks for sharing.

Donald Rogers

This was the best thing in the world.
Thank you!

brucebaugh

The beauty of these words can only be exceeded by the beauty of the person who wrote them. Well done, indeed. Blessings.

theaddiejohnson

This is an amazing and empowering article. Thank you so much! It truly is the social stigma that is the worst part of herpes. Thanks again for such an honest piece!!

Anninyn

I have the Herpes Virus, the Cold Sore form, though I rarely get breakouts. One thing I did discover, though, is that it can increase your risks of cervical cancer. I had abnormal cell development on my first ever smear, almost certainly because of the strain of HPV I have. Had to have bits of my cervix removed - fun. So yeah, I now tell everyone I have sex with that I carry the virus, even if it only spreads when I'm having a breakout.

But the thing is, the UK doesn't seem to be so fussed about it. Oh, you have a cold sore. Ok. Gential Herpes is a bigger deal, but I think our slightly better sex education helps here- we're told at 13 that's it's only contagious when someone has a breakout and that it's not that big a deal. And it is sorta a big deal here, but not THAT big a deal.

femwanderluster

Question: if one does not have herpes and prefers not to get it, does that make one an asshole?

I've been reading and rereading this thread because STDs/STIs are way more important and prevalent than I'd been lead to believe and safe sex practices don't always make a difference, so I've been keen to read everyone's personal experiences re:sex, re:STDs/STIs, re:partners, re:boundaries, re:sex ed.

I get the feeling that deciding you'd rather not risk infection makes you a total juicebox from this thread, especially when confronted with a prospective partner who reveals that they're positive and you decide you'd rather not risk it.

That sucks, I get that, but such is life. We only get one. I dunno. I don't think that makes me an asshole, unworthy of anyone's sexual time. And yeah, rejection based on a virus, that sucks, but if you could avoid contracting it, wouldn't you?

I feel the same about HIV/AIDs, I feel the same way about all the STDs/STIs--if I can avoid them, I will and I will be proactive about it. Does that make me a jerk? I'm not stigmatizing folks and still see infected folks as fully-fledged humans who deserve love and sexual affection. At the same time, I'd rather not get any of 'em, ya know?

Mind, I was diagnosed with HPV/the genital warts kind, went through a crazy period of FEELINGS SO MANY FEELINGS! Had one guy reject me after I told him he should get tested since I'd only just found out and we'd boned a few times (I know now that they can't test guys, which, WTF?!?! get ON IT science!). That was awful and made me feel unlovable/unsexable(yeah, new word.) So I get that part of it, I really do.

RE: Growing up/silver linings: I came out of it WAY less promiscuous and way more positive and proactive about my sexual boundaries--I used to be way TOO polite and timid about all of that (EVERY GUY I'VE EVER SLEPT WITH HAS ASKED, even PUSHED! NOT TO USE CONDOMS!!! THIS IS NOT OKAY!) And I've been single and celibate since that summer of 5 concurrent FWBs and my subsequent HPV diagnosis. I have since cleared the HPV (I did get the Gardisil shot series, so hopefully that will help ward off the cancer (the warts version ≠ cancer, thank fuck, though I've lots of friends who've had the cancer-causing HPV scares, colposcopies etc (and every time I ask about condom use, the dude didn't wanna!!! those extra exclamation points are warranted here!)) So it's not like I'm a douche who assumes STD/STI-havers = the bubonic plague.

I dunno. Thoughts? Curious to hear from you all and to discuss.

I was 25 when diagnosed and am now 27 and I am now VERY selective in partners and will definitely go get tested with anyone before I ever bone again. I wish I had always been so :( I feel like American sex-ed and culture failed me and I also feel like guys fail me when they are so pushy about not using condoms and WOMEN are so much more likely to contract STDs/STIs due to anatomy :( (I have an IUD and will never again tell a guy about it so he thinks I'll get knocked up at any moment and so will then feel he HAS to take non-fatherhood into consideration, let alone think about STD/STI transmission). Again, I just don't wanna deal with any more STDs/STIs and if that means I masturbate and dry-hump for forever, so be it. This feminist is done with so many doctor visits, doctor bills, dudes completely passe about protection (STDs/STIs are SO COMMON for a REASON, fuckin' hell!)

Ok, phew, sorry if any of that offends anyone I just want to discuss this openly and honestly. Your thoughts/2cents/experiences are so appreciated. Thanks for sharing.

Vera Knoop

@femwanderluster IMO (and of course there's no consensus definition of a bad person!) there's a world of difference between not wanting to risk getting it and shaming people for having it.
In terms of behavior, though not in terms of stakes, I think there's a parallel to other kinds of preferences here: it's one thing to prefer someone who removes their body hair, and it's a whole different order of thing to make someone feel disgusting for not doing so.

runner in the garden

@femwanderluster You are not crazy. Going without condoms is A Big Deal and any dude who insists on it is asking to get kicked out of your bed.

anonee

Thank you SO SO much for writing this. I just found out a little less than 2 months ago that I have herpes. Oral-to-vaginal transmission as well, which I did'nt even know was possible until I was sobbing in the doctor's office trying to tell him he was wrong.

I've been disgusted with myself, depressed, convinced my life was over. Luckily for me my boyfriend (who I got it from, oral sex...he had no idea that was possible either) reacted wonderfully, and has been nothing but supportive, working overtime to make me feel beautiful and confident again. In the back of my head, I'm paralyzed by fear of having to face another man if things don't work out with him...it's still too fresh for me to think someone else could love me. Point is, your article could not have come at a better time for me. Your confidence and your perspective on it are inspiring. I wish you the best with it all, and thank you.

anonee

@anonee ACH I wish I found this article sooner...I just finished reading through the comments and feel better than I have since the day I got it. I've been an emotional wreck and needed some reassurance from people who know what I'm going through.

On that note...does anyone have suggestions for reliable sources on the medication? Because that's the next item on my list, I've been too busy living in a black hole to organize how my broke self will pay for future outbreaks...as far as I know, medication is really expensive especially without insurance (which I don't have right now, yay for chronic viruses in my early 20s!) I got my first outbreak while traveling abroad and I still don't know what I'm dealing with back here, plus I'm too nervous about the stigma to tell anyone...

rosaline

@anonee A little note of solidarity for you... The doctor actually called me the afternoon after she diagnosed me because I was so incredibly upset while in her office and she wanted to make sure I was okay! The week after I found out was probably the worst one I've ever had. But the more I've learned about it and the longer it's been since the diagnosis, the better I have been able to deal with it. Physically it's so low impact, but mentally the stigma is a lot to deal with. Just keep in mind that it's really common and there are a lot of us out here. :)

John Smith@facebook

@anonee sounds like a great position you put yourself in, congratulations on your next std!

glucklich

Speaking of awful HS sex-ed...did anyone else have to watch the horrible (but sort of great) Intimate Agony?

It is a made for TV movie about a bunch of very rich white people (played by at the time unfamous Mark Harmon, Judith Light and Robert Vaughn) on a resort island where herpes is rampant and ruining lives! This was shown to us in 9th grade without a hint of irony, telling us "this could be you!"

nglaer

It can be not such a big deal. I had had herpes for more than a decade; then HIV came upon the scene and herpes seemed very insignificant. (Made moreso by the fact that my outbreaks diminished and had more or less stopped altogether. Why, I don't know, but in the 70's I traveled to Germany for an experimental treatment called Lupidon G. Injections, didn't kill me.) One happy moment was early in our marriage, pregnant with our first child, my wife and i went for pre-birth testing, (she was exposed, never developed active virus.). If there is active virus, a C-section is necessary. There was another couple in the waiting room, our situation exactly, an absolutely beautiful young woman (equal to my wife, at least) and a handsome young man. A good way of feeling not so alone.
Anyway, I've been pretty lucky in that my outbreaks diminished and have now disappeared, I've been happily married a long time, and my wife got the exposure antibodies but never an active outbreak.
I sometimes think that I was patient zero, having contracted the virus in SE Asia, long time ago.

theguyfromnewmexico

I'm a few days late to this party but take issue with what I understand to be a premise of the article - that men who decline to risk getting herpes in a random hookup are assholes. Sure the author will experience a wide range of reactions, from sweet and tactful to rude and douchey. But men who don't want herpes are entitled to that view. As someone who sometimes has multiple partners I feel a responsibility to be extra safe in my hookups lest I spread something around to my other trusting and unsuspecting partners. Even though the risk of contracting it from an infected partner is low, it is still a risk that outweighs the benefit for many. Sorry if that makes me "expendable" and the "wrong" man.

ShannonOH

@theguyfromnewmexico No, not wanting to catch a disease does not make you a bad person. But honestly, you most likely already have HSV1. About 70% of the population does, and the fact that you used the word "hookup" tells me that you most definitely do have it. And if you actually don't, and you don't want to catch it, you shouldn't kiss 70% of the population. Because you'll catch it.

Vera Knoop

@theguyfromnewmexico It just makes you the wrong man for someone with herpes to hook up with. Making distinctions between "bad" and "not right for me" is crucial.

PistolPackinMama

@theguyfromnewmexico Yeah, this isn't about if, but how. Determining appropriate boundaries for yourself doesn't mean you should impose censure on other people because of their infection status. Especially since the majority of men carry HPV at some time in their lives, pass it on to women, and don't even know because there is no way to test for it. Women who have sex with men who have had sex partners before them don't really have a choice but to risk exposure. You're not expendable if you don't want to contract herpes in a hookup. You're expendable if you act like a juicebox about not wanting to become infected towards people who disclose they are carrying a chronic STD to you.

LoriA

I'm a little late to this, and I'm not sure if anyone's still reading the comments, but I figured I'd throw in my 2 cents as a lady with genital HSV1:

I do not relate to this. At all.

Well, the story of how you got it was familiar. Although for me it happened while I was still living with my parents, and my symptoms were immediate and completely debilitating and it was hard to hide it from them. Still ranks with one of my worst experiences ever.

But my disclosure process is way different. People think of HSV2 when they hear the words 'genital herpes' so I don't even go there. I start out with "Do you ever get cold sores?" Most people will answer yes, and if they do, the conversation doesn't even have to proceed any further, because it's impossible to get HSV1 twice, even in two different locations. If they say no, I tell them I do, and that some people consider it an STD so I thought I should inform them. Everyone so far has rolled their eyes. Oral HSV1 is even easier to transmit to your partners' genitals than genital HSV1, but for some reason everyone shrugs it off.

Anyway, I do my duty to inform people of their risks, but I do it without playing into people's misinformed prejudices by just talking about cold sores.

I should add that in the three years since the initial outbreak I've had maybe two more, both small enough not to cause any significant problems. Obviously I avoid sex during those times and have learned to pay more attention to my body.

spellbinder

@LoriA That's precisely how I start the conversation, and always before they kiss me. Because the only ever sign or symptom I've ever had (and I attacked with a vengeance so it never manifested into anything) was bee sting sensation on my lips. So obviously I want to make sure to let them decide ahead of time. But I take Organic Defense now, daily, and never get a cold sore, and as a bonus, never get the flu either. I haven't had the opportunity to take the conversation further than the kissing question as I've not had sex in the years since I found out, but after this article, I agree, my standards are raised. But I'm ready now.

ShannonOH

This is ridiculous. 70% of the population has HSV1. Odds are that the guy who rejected this girl had it himself. People should stop being so ignorant.

HSV1 is definitely not a death sentence. If you avoided everyone with HSV1, your partners would be drastically limited. HSV2, on the other hand, is less prevalent.

And other than the severity of the symptoms, it doesn't matter where you caught it. If you already have HSV1, you already have it. You can't catch it again. If you've never been tested for it, you don't know if you have it, and odds are, you do. It's that COMMON.

ShannonOH

@ida claire Here's the thing you should know. You can spread it to someone's genitals even when you're not having any blisters. That's why it's so common. You can spread it about 30% of the time when you're no having any symptoms. Why are you not infecting lots and lots of people with genital HSV1? Because the majority of them already have oral HSV1, and with a few rare exceptions, you can't catch it again.

DreamInArgyle

@ShannonOH this is how I got genital HSV1 myself. I think my bf was having viral shedding when he went down on me a lot in the beginning months of our relationship. A few weeks later I had an initial outbreak and I freaked out because 1) I didn't cheat on him and 2) the guy I was with for a bit the year before I had this new bf only went down on me ONCE in the four or so months we were together so none of it added up.

I am very blessed to not only have had good health insurance to cover that horrible Dr visit (y so judgemental nurse lady I WAS TRYING TO BE RESPONSIBLE JFC) but to also have had decent and supportive friends who were as shocked as I was when I did my own extensive research on how herpes actually works and busted all those myths.

"they don't test for it in my annual pap smear/std test!?"

sigh.

John Smith@facebook

Author is a slut trying to rationalize why being damaged goods is a good thing? lolololol

tee
tee

@John Smith@facebook What's up trolllololol?

wharrgarbl

@tee Somebody should call a whaaambulance so the bro can get admitted to Santorum Regional Doctors Hospital, STAT. Emergency umadbroectomies are serious business.

Trudy Ann@facebook

So glad I read this. The assertion and self-respect applies to a lot more than just STD's. Herpes is real, but also a great metaphor for everything about honesty between two people--two people who have shared proximity, but not yet intimacy. It's a bridge we might all do well to cross as slowly and thoughtfully as this author has.

Laura Butler@twitter

I'm an OB/GYN and frequently diagnose women with herpes. This is such a great perspective - I plan to share this with my patients. Thank you!

DreamInArgyle

My (at the time) virgin boyfriend gave me genital HSV1. We still joke about it two years later.

cheeriosforme

i just wanted to say thank you. i recently came into contact with a sexual partner that had herpes (he told me after we had sex and we had sex again, when i was super drunk and blacked out and he didnt use a condom).
i've been worried and i feel super hypocritical, however your experience makes me feel better. i've been worried that if i have it, people will think i'm dirty or undesirable but what i'm most worried about how i would view myself if i had it- would i be upset (i already am), would i feel worthless?
thank you for writing this. i already feel a lot better. i literally cried with relief.

kalikill

i must have gotten HSV-1 as a child, somewhere. Picking bubble gum, or later, cigaette butts off of the streets. People always got cold sores; that was part of growing up. Back then, it was just a cold sore. It certainly wasn't HSV-1.
i didn't realize any of this until later. i was not blessed with sex ed. Basic biology was even denied to me, about my own body! Yes, i spent most of my years at a x-tian school. And i seemed to skip those years in public school where they taught basic anatomy, let alone, sexual education.

Anyways, i spent many years not knowing about my body. i had been & would be raped. And then i was pregnant. The most that i knew of bodies & sexuality was what i had learned from those books & what i had discovered on my own.

So, decades later, i get together with someone that i have known for over 20 years. He thinks he is clean, because he got tested & so did i. i had only slept with one person in the last 10 years, So...everyone came back clean.
Until my breakout 2 weeks later. i had no idea what was going on. And when i finally, really got that diagnosis from that lady? My heart dropped. i couldn't breathe. But, wait...i don't sleep around, so... So, apparently, the Boys that i sleep with & love, do. Sad story. Moral of my tale is... love your lover; but you don't know who they have loved before you, do you?
And i have more horrors. Just be careful, my Ladies. They may not be rotten, but they also may not know.

DollyHardOn

I am so late to commenting but I just wanted to say thank you SO MUCH for writing this. This is the article I have been waiting for. <3

Heather@twitter

I dunno if I'd call that a full on perk..... but The Herp does provide you with a reason of getting sti educated, which is a win in my books.

Fun fact: I'm a HSV-1 carrier with genital outbreaks (which is *exactly* why you should be telling your partner if you've had cold stores EVER, @glitterary), and according to the nurse at my latest round of STI testing the asymptomatic shedding goes way down after the first year.

I'm also a big fan of deciding my safer sex needs after a conversation with my partner. To me, it's a total turn on to be with someone who knows the ins and outs of safer sex and what risks they're willing to take and what risks they aren't. I love the freedom that comes with knowing my partner is capable and happy to talk about sex with me, it always makes for better lovers.

ponpup

I know I need to follow the rules in our company handbook and I know that my pellet also must follow the same rules.

jtiger87

very true. This is what I wanted to know about herpes and the various testings.

emily7

dear author,
you're awesome. what a well-written essay. and i can't believe how closely your experiences mirror my own. really, it's insane. i caught hsv 1 about 4 years ago, through oral sex (incidentally the night i lost my virginity, at 20 years old.). i too have not had an outbreak since. it's been frustrating at times and i can't stop bemoaning the double standard of where people who get cold sores have no obligation to inform their partner before kissing or oral sex yet it's a requisite for someone in my situation. but i digress..
i do think that overall it's been a blessing. months after contracting hsv i carefully waited to date again. then i finally told a guy that had asked me out... lying in bed together, he nodded and rubbed my back and later that night asked me to be his girlfriend. we dated for 3 years. we broke up for other reasons, but his thoughtful reaction demonstrated just how serious he was in getting to know me and revealed what a good guy he is.

JustAGirl

Wow, thank you for this article. I discovered I had herpes through an outbreak last summer (upstairs and downstairs, double whammy, thanks God!). Although I was very lucky - neither area was painful or extremely infested, just a couple of small sores each that healed quickly - I felt like the world had come to an end. In spite of having no recurrence of the downstairs outbreak - he one that made me feel REALLY repulsive - I became hugely depressed, spent the whole of what should have been a fun-filled, action-packed summer breaking down in tears everywhere, obsessing over every pimple (is it coming back??) and berating myself for ever having had sex/kissed anyone without putting all of all our bits in disinfected plastic bags. But the worst thing of all was thinking I'd given it to my boyfriend, and trying to gear up to telling him.

My boyfriend and I had been together for 3 years, 100% faithfully, when I got my outbreak. At first I thought he must have cheated on me and passed it on, but quickly learned that the disease can lie dormant for years, or that the first outbreak can be so mild it goes unnoticed; and I know him too well - he's a sweet, shy, honest person and wouldn't cheat. Before me, he had only had one other partner (although she had had quite a high number of others). I, on the other hand, had been pretty venturesome, and hadn't always been 100% careful - I mean, who is every single time? Odds were, the source of the problem was me. Before I got together with him, I'd got myself fully checked out - I was so excited that this wonderful guy wanted to be with me, and suddenly had a fit of guilt about my past - the idea that I might be harbouring something that might harm him made me feel sick. I checked out clean on all counts - but of course, no-one tests for herpes.

Sobbingly, I told my boyfriend what I had and what I'd learned about it - quoting wildly all the most reassuring things I could remember from the websites - that 20% of people had it already without knowing, that it wasn't always symptomatic, that it didn't mean I had been unfaithful to him, that people can get it as babies, from kissing, about all the mixed up transmission methods, that we should always use condoms from now on, even for oral - babbling on like a loon. He listened to me, patted me, and eventually just said "well, it sounds like it's not so bad - you should stop worrying. And we've been doing everything every which way without protection for years now - if you've had it all this time, I've probably got it as well by now. Maybe I even gave it to you!"

I already knew he was a gem; but that much of one? In a way, Im almost glad it happened - in the same way people sometimes say cancer 'brought us closer together', my herpes made me appreciate just how lovely and kind a person he was, and that I could trust in his love for me - he wasn't going to drop me like a hot potato because I was defective; although I don't believe in marriage, the words 'in sickness and in health' flitted consolingly across my mind. Also, his rational perspective on what had seemed like a life-destroying thing for me helped me get a grip, to sometimes forget all about it, and to continue to enjoy sex - something I was worried would never be the same again after my discovery.

We're still together, and I hope we always will be. But I have sometimes wondered, if we did break up (for whatever reason), how I would navigate the sexual marketplace again with my new knowledge of my disease. This article really spells it out for me - if the next guy can't be just as understanding, accepting and wonderful as my boyfriend has been, no way does he deserve to be the next guy. Thanks again!

JustAGirl

Also, it is a really good motivator for looking after yourself! Keeping healthy and well-rested and stress-free, eating well, not drinking so much - all good ways to avoid an outbreak, and you feel loads better in general! On the other hand, it's not all roses. I've been feeling shitty for a few weeks, and am now discovering through the magic of the internets (hence my stumbling over this article via Google) that the sore scabs on my head that won't go away, which I thought were just a bad reaction to a home hair dye - may be another manifestation of the virus. Sob. At the end of the day, I've got an annoying, incurable, infectious and occasionally unsightly illness. Quite easy to feel sorry for yourself sometimes, and it's amazing how swiftly that path leads to self-hatred. I just wish I had ONE female friend who also had the virus I could talk to... my best friend knows and is sympathetic, but its not the same!

JustAGirl

OK, @PotatoPotato, your blog has already educated me! Thanks! No wonder my damn head sores are so sore - sat out all day in the sun without a hat on during the hottest day of the year so far = sore head. I had no idea the sun was a major trigger! Time to buy a sun hat and rub some damn Zovirax on my bonce (mmm, sexy :P). Consider yourself followed! Thanks! xxx

Tsh
Tsh

I am so very thankful for this piece! I was recently informed by my partner that she has herpes. And she automatically told me that she understood if I left the relationship (3months) but wanted to be honest and for me to make my own decision. I am very thankful that she cared enough to share, and I informed her I am not going ANYWHERE...I love her and we're in this together. I never even thought twice when she told me. I shall forward this piece to her. Thank you for sharing!!

ponpup

pellet making I think one important point to make on a resume is to state your goal. If you are applying for a low level position, do not say your goal is to run your own business.

ponpup

crude palm oil Mean I know, but if I get 100 cv's, I have to get them down to a handful that I want to interview.

brittany@twitter

please email me anonymous4lif@yahoo.com

yyyyyyy

AHHHHH THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nicole212

i realize one thing in life no matter how difficult a situation is, there must always be a solution..
when genital herpes started many was thinking is the end of the world, now with drugs like ADU drugs which cure genital herpes and make the effected place to be smooth, i have used it and the drugs cure my 3 years genital herpes..
just try and get your herbal traditional ADU drugs from dr shant tami, this is the dr email address INDIANSPELL@YAHOO.COM

Little Tart

This is my story exactly, so nice to read about other ladies in my position!! I haven't really dated since my last serious relationship out of fear of rejection but I like the writers interpretation.
"In a world full of infinite partner choices, herpes had narrowed mine to the understanding, the open minded, the risk takers. I am now confined to partners who think my awesomeness eclipses my cellular flaw — so instead of killing my love life, herpes has weirdly deepened it."
I dare say I'm feeling a bit encouraged to date again.

joyxx

After being in relationship with emma for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by reffering him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email cafaispiritualtemple@yahoo.com) you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything.

joyxx

After being in relationship with emma for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by reffering him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email cafaispiritualtemple@yahoo.com) you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything.

joyxx

After being in relationship with emma for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by reffering him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email cafaispiritualtemple@yahoo.com) you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything.

joyxx

After being in relationship with emma for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by reffering him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email cafaispiritualtemple@yahoo.com) you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything.

Sharon678890223445667

That was an excellent piece. I wish I had read something like that back in 1995 when I was diagnosed with the same type of herpes. My dating life has been a disaster. Most guys were willing to sleep with me but not date me because of the STI (or so they said). I have always been bad at disclosure so I have just avoided sexual activity but this piece has given me some new confidence. Thanks to the author.

Connie Anderson@facebook

My Name is Connie Anderson.I never believed in Love Spells or Magics until I met this special spell caster when i contact this man called The Great Esango Priest.He is really powerful.My wife divorce me with no reason for almost 4 years and i tried all i could to have her back cos i really love her so much but all my effort did not work out.. we met at our early age at the college and we both have feelings for each other and we got married happily for 5 years with no kid and she woke up one morning and she told me she’s going on a divorce..i thought it was a joke and when she came back from work she tender to me a divorce letter and she packed all her loads from my house..i ran mad and i tried all i could to have her back but all did not work out..i was lonely for almost 4 years…So when i told the spell caster what happened he said he will help me and he asked for her full name and her picture..i gave him that..At first i was skeptical but i gave it a try cos have tried so many spell casters and there is no solution…so when he finished with the readings,he got back to me that she’s with a man and that man is the reason why she left me…The spell caster said he will help me with a spell that will surely bring her back.but i never believe all this…he told me i will see a positive result within 3 days..3 days later,she called me herself and came to me apologizing and she told me she will come back to me..I cant believe this,it was like a dream cos i never believe this will work out after trying many spell casters and there is no solution..The spell caster is so powerful and after that he helped me with a pregnancy spell and my wife got pregnant a month later..we are now happy been together again and with lovely kid..This spell caster has really changed my life and i will forever thankful to him..he has helped many friends too with similar problem too and they are happy and thankful to him..This man is indeed the most powerful spell caster have ever experienced in life..Am Posting this to the Forum in case there is anyone who has similar problem and still looking for a way out. CONTACT THIS GREAT AND POWERFUL SPELL CASTER CALLED The Great Esango Priest.HIS EMAIL ADDRESS IS:esangopriest@gmail.com. CONTACT HIM NOW AND BE FAST ABOUT IT SO HE CAN ALSO ATTEND TO YOU BECAUSE THE EARLIER YOU CONTACT HIM NOW THE BETTER FOR YOU TO GET QUICK SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS.

Carlos Ramirez@facebook

i just want to share my experience and testimony here.. i was married for 6 years to my husband and all of a sudden, another woman came into the picture.. he started hailing me and he was abusive..but i still loved him with all my heart and wanted him at all cost?then he filed for divorce..my whole life was turning apart and i didn't know what to do..he moved out of the house and abandoned the kids.. so someone told me about trying spiritual means to get my husband back and introduced me to a spell caster?so i decided to try it reluctantly..although i didn't believe in all those things? then when he did the special prayers and spell, after 2days, my husband came back and was pleading..he had realized his mistakes..i just couldn't believe it.. anyways we are back together now and we are happy..in case anyone needs this man, his email address prophetsalifu@gmail.com, his spells is for a better life. again his email is prophetsalifu@gmail.com

HSVandMe

This is amazing, thank you for posting this. I contracted herpes in 2008 from a college fling. Your story has really brightened my day, what an inspiration you are! :)

sweetcheeksmagoo

abigailnicole is probably referring to an increased risk (something like 15 times higher) of developing Alzheimer's disease if you are an APOE-e4 carrier and have HSV-1.

Google "Herpes simplex virus type 1, apolipoprotein E and Alzheimer's disease"

Goodguy

I gotta thank you. One, because I forgot how much I miss the sensibility of NYC women, and two, well, your story helped me during this awful time. Suffice to say I was just diagnosed. I was safe allll through the years and only reason I was unprotected with this new partner was because I was hoping maybe for a kid. Got something else. Well two things -because there was all sorts of dishonest mind games, I got suckered into 50 shades of heartbreak.. Feel a bit like a blue pariah, but your story put my mind at ease and made me smile. It's nice to know good people are out there.

Lilly567

@Goodguy Agreed. I found out about mine in August and while devastated for a while, it was pieces like these that made me realize we'll be okay.

Cindy Cin@facebook

My situation was hopeless me and my husband was on the verge of divorce. I was in a awful state and felt that I was not able to cope with life any longer. I found wiseindividualspell@gmail.com and tried him. Well, he did return and now we are doing well again, more than ever before. Thank you so much wiseindividualspell@gmail.com i will forever be grateful to you.

Turner

Hello.

I am this kind of person who never believe in all these spiritual/horoscope/psychic things, i just think its bullshit but my desperation and loneliness got a better of me one day when i finally decided i dont want to be lonely again, i want my wife back, our divorce was entirely my fault in the first place which was due to my cheating but you never know the value of what you have until you lose it, my ex already remarried but i know i can never ever meet someone like her again, i went to see a friend who introduce me to a powerful spellcaster callled (Prophet Aziz Zala), and everything changes for me in just 7days, i am with my wife now and but when it first worked out i was so scared i was expecting something bad to happen, coz i never beleave in all these spiritual thing, and i was scared but its been 6months now and they assured me nothing bad will happen to me as long as i dont play her. i know there are lot of people out there facing the same thing, pls give it a trial, its your best shot, some people will never understand wanting an ex back, but some do and its for these people who cry in their pillow at night before sleeping. Many of my freind have contacted this prohet for different reasons and they have testified too. You can contact him at his private mail (azizzala@yahoo.com)

(azizzala@yahoo.com)

Shirley U Jest@facebook

Beautifully written piece. Thank you so much, and great sex to you!

Charlotte White@facebook

Really wonderful story. May I ask the permission to share it to my blog http://www.herpesdatingsitefree.com?

Lilly567

Thank you thank you thank you.
I found out about mine in August and I pretended it was nothing to friends and family while - without telling anyone - I would get horribly drunk over the weekends and cry about the fact that I might never have kids (very uncharacteristic of me). I've read all of the horror stories of people never finding love. I've seen all of the mean comments from people who don't have herpes and shame those who do. It's only through accounts like this that I remember it's okay. It's not the end of the world.
As a friend said to me, relationships are hard. If someone bails on you for something like this, then they wouldn't be able to stick with you through the more difficult parts.
So you;re right. In a weird way it is a bonus and I'm honestly just happy to know I'm not alone.

susan3600

This is a testimony that i will tell to every one to hear. i have been married four 4years and on the fifth year of my marriage, another woman had to take my lover away from me and my husband left me and the kids and we have suffered for 2years until i met a post where this man Dr. Atingo have helped someone and i decided to give him a try to help me bring my lover back home and believe me i just send my picture to him and that of my husband and after 48hours as he have told me, i saw a car drove into the house and behold it was my husband and he have come to me and the kids and that is why i am happy to make every one of you in similar to met with this man and have your lover back to your self. His email: atingospiritualtemple@live.com

Velvet Foster@facebook

I am very happy to tell every one to hear my name is lucy. i have been married four 4years and on the fifth year of my marriage, another woman had to take my lover away from me and my husband left me and the kids and we have suffered for 2years until i met a post where this man Dr. shiva have helped someone and i decided to give him a try to help me bring my lover back home and believe me i just send my picture to him and that of my husband and after 48hours as he have told me, i saw a car drove into the house and behold it was my husband and he have come to me and the kids and that is why i am happy to make every one of you in similar to met with this man and have your lover back to your self. His email: hinduspelltemple@yahoo.com

lagrl86

If you've ever had a cold sore and you give oral sex you're putting your partner at risk for genital herpes regardless of having a breakout or not. Herpes 1 and 2 look nearly identical under a microscope (one has slightly more protein) that's the only difference, they cause the same symptoms. Why we're taught in school that it's some big bad thing to have it on our sex organs, yet an innocent fact of life to have it on our mouths not worth disclosing is a huge contradiction clouded by poor education and ignorance. They're the same thing. I think its terrible to make people feel defective for having a dumb virus most of us have just because its on another part of their body.

Not So positive girl

Whoever wrote this, thank you, I'm living with the same circumstance as you are (contracting HSV1 through oral sex) and it brought me to tears to see how someone else has handled it. I wish I were as brave as you to tell my partner but I'm too afraid because I'm only 17 and I'm scared of rejection right now :/

darkangel

Thank you for writing this article. I was just diagnosed last night, and have spent much of my time yesterday and today crying and thinking my love life was over. This gives me hope, and helps me feel a better. Thank, dear kind soul, for sharing your experience and helping others of us with this disease.

PinkPancakes21

Thank you for this article... I have had genital herpes for over a year now, and have completely shut my love life down since I found out. I've finally met someone, someone I would like to fall in love with. We haven't had sex. I'm glad I've found this blog on Google so I can learn how to open up to this said person. Your article has brought tears to my eyes, but has encouraged me to be honest with him and myself. So thank you!!

bryan low@twitter

J Gateway is also near elite schools such as Fuhua Primary School and St Anthony Primary School. Yuhua Primary School and Shuqun Secondary School are also around in the area.
J Gateway Site Plan

jmp4387

I was wondering if anyone knows the citations for the statistics that are listed in this post? I would find that very useful.

Thanks!

bryan low@twitter

For vehicle owners, it takes less than 30 minutes to drive to the city area, via Central Expressway (CTE) and KPE (Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway).
A wonderful and unique lifestyle awaits you. Please see Jewel at Buangkok project details and units available for more information.
Condo in Buangkok

bryan low@twitter

For vehicle owners, it takes less than 30 minutes to drive to the city area, via Central Expressway (CTE) and KPE (Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway).
A wonderful and unique lifestyle awaits you. Please see Jewel at Buangkok project details and units available for more information.
Condo in Buangkok

bryan low@twitter

For vehicle owners, it takes less than 5 minutes to drive to the business hub and vibrant Orchard Road shopping district, via Pan Island Expressway (PIE) and Central Expressway (CTE).
Bugis Condo

bryan low@twitter

Lush Acres EC is also near elite schools such as Pei Hwa Secondary School, Nan Chiau Primary School, Nan Chiau High School.
For vehicle owners, it takes less than 30 minutes to drive to the business hub and vibrant Orchard Road shopping district, via Tampines Expressway (TPE), Central Expressway (CTE) and Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE)
Lush Acre EC

seow

Jewel @ Buangkok is near to Buangkok MRT station & good school such as Nau Chiau High School. Jewel @ Buangkok

Kensington Square

Former Tai Keng Court is also near elite schools such as Cedar Primary School and St. Gabriel Secondary School. Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' School and DPS International School are also around in the area.
Former Tai Keng Court

The Glades

For vehicle owners, The Glades takes less than 25 minutes to drive to the business hub and vibrant Orchard Road shopping district, via Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) and East Coast Expressway(ECP).
Tanah Merah Launch

The Panorama

Ang Mo Kio Condo Launch will be accessible via public transport along Ang Mo Kio Ave 5. Commuting to Toa Payoh and Paya Lebar area as well as the city area is therefore very convenient. It is also near to many eateries along the Upper Serangoon area as well as NEX shopping mall.
Ang Mo Kio Launch

877674842@twitter

Every. Single. Moment in this story is EXACTLY how i felt/feel. im not fortunate enough to meet someone who dnt care yet but i became more positive that i will one day.

Sky Vue

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my Names is john roselin,AM from usa.i never believed in love spells or magic until i met this spell caster once when i went to Africa in June last year on a business summit i ment a man called PRINCE AYAWU, is powerful he could help you cast a spells to bring back my love s gone misbehaving lover looking for some one to love you bring back lost money and magic money spell or spell for a good job i m now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 4weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 3 year i really loved him, but his mother was against me and he had no good paying job so when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him at first i was undecided,skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try and in 6 days when i returned to Vancouver my boyfriend (is now my husband ) he called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with his mom and family and he got a new job interview so we should get married i didn't believe it cos the spell caster only asked for my name and my boyfriends name and all i wanted him to do well we are happily married now and we are expecting our little kid and my husband also got a new job and our lives became much better in case anyone needs the spell caster for some help his email address: templeofgreatness@gmail.com

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My name is Mrs joyce from united kingdom i got married at the age of 30 i have only one child and i was living happily .After 5 year of my marriage my husband behavior became so strange and i don't really understand what was going on, he packed out of the house to another woman i love him so much that i never dreams of losing him, i try my possible best to make sure that my husband get back to me but all to no avail i cry seeking for help i discussed it with my best friend and she promise to help me he told me of a man called PRINCE AYAWU, he is a very great man and a real man that can be trusted and there is nothing concerning love issues he cannot do that is why they call him the great doctor. I contacted him And i told him everything that happen all he told me is that i should not worry that all my problems will be solved immediately. He told me what to do to get my husband back and i did, he said after 4 days my husband will come back to me and start begging, it really happen i was very surprise and very happy our relationship was now very tight and we both live happily again.So my advice for you now is to contact this same email address templeofgreatness@gmail.com if you are in any kind of situation concerning love issues and any other things that give you problems contact him.
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John Roselin@facebook

My name is Mrs joyce from united kingdom i got married at the age of 30 i have only one child and i was living happily .After 5 year of my marriage my husband behavior became so strange and i don't really understand what was going on, he packed out of the house to another woman i love him so much that i never dreams of losing him, i try my possible best to make sure that my husband get back to me but all to no avail i cry seeking for help i discussed it with my best friend and she promise to help me he told me of a man called PRINCE AYAWU, he is a very great man and a real man that can be trusted and there is nothing concerning love issues he cannot do that is why they call him the great doctor. I contacted him And i told him everything that happen all he told me is that i should not worry that all my problems will be solved immediately. He told me what to do to get my husband back and i did, he said after 4 days my husband will come back to me and start begging, it really happen i was very surprise and very happy our relationship was now very tight and we both live happily again.So my advice for you now is to contact this same email address templeofgreatness@gmail.com if you are in any kind of situation concerning love issues and any other things that give you problems contact him.
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William Blessing@facebook

Hello my good friends please do not see this strange cause it my life story about my healing, i was having HIV for good 6yrs. Things were not working fine for me due to my health status i know longer have friends know lover it even takes time before my family co-operate with me due to this i tried all possible means i can to get this devilish sickness out of my body i went to hospitals hierarchies and other heath organization but all remains the same still yet i never gave up cos i was not born with this illness so i decided to take it over to the internet to see if i could get remedy, on my search i saw a testimony of a woman, she said she was also having a terrible sickness for over 3yrs but now she is healed i was surprise at first when i saw her test so she wrote a name dr EHIAGHE and also gave his email id so i mailed them which is (ehiaghespellhome@gmail.com) i told them about my problem and after the processes he told me that am healed but i never believed he told me to go and confirm it from the hospital were i have been taking treatment still i never believed also although he gave me evidence that the sickness was gone.
Finally i decided to go for check up and to my surprise my doctor said the sickness was know longer there with thought of joy i started shearing tears.
My friends today am now married bless with 2kids, so if you have any sickness kindly email (ehiaghespellhome@gmail.com) sir i will forever remain in you debt.
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Mercy Brown@facebook

I’m Mercy brown by name I have a few testimony to share with you all about myself, I was in a relationship with this guy and for 3years and we were about getting married when we both have misunderstanding with each other and he ask me for a divorce and we both agreed and after 4months I head that he was having an affair with one of my closest friend and I was very upset and worried so a friend of my advice me and told me if I still love my ex and if I really want to have him back so I told her yes, and she ask me to contact Dr. Madurai the spell caster and I did although I never believe on spell so he gave me something when he was casting the spell and ask me to say my wishes on it and after the casting of the spell a receive a phone call from my ex and was ask me at which I did and now we are back together again I’m so happy and I wish not to ever have this mistake again in my life. I will also advice anyone with this kind of issue to contact him for help he is really nice on phone and always there to answer you question giving you the good advice that you need. his email is maduraitemple@yahoo.com

Marian Gregory@facebook

My life is back!!! After 8 years of marriage, my husband left me and left me with our three kids. I felt like my life was about to end, and was falling apart. I contacted Dr. OKORO LOVE SPELL and after I explained my problem, In just 3 days my husband came back to us and show me and my kids much love and apologize for all the pain he have bring to the family. We solved our issues, and we are even happier more than ever before Dr. OKORO you are the best spell caster. I really appreciate the love spell you cast for me to get the man back to my life i will keep sharing more testimonies to people about your good work. Thank you once again Dr. OKORO. You can also contact Dr. OKORO via email address: dr.okorospelltemple01@gmail.com in case you are in any problem you can contact this man for help he is always there in his temple to help you solve your problem Contact Email is: dr.okorospelltemple01@gmail.com CONTACT HIM TODAY VIA THIS EMAIL ADDRESS: dr.okorospelltemple01@gmail.com AS HIS POWERS ARE SO STRONG AND VERY EFFECTIVE AND HAS NO BAD EFFECT INSTEAD IT HAVE A VERY GOOD RESULT AFTER CASTING THE SPELL.

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Pricilia Flamini@facebook

My husband and I have been together for about five years. last month we got into an argument because i caught him cheating, i was heartbroken and i used to love him with all my heart, I was about to leave and asked him what’s on his agenda and he just ignored me. I got mad and cursed him out and left. He said that I am jealous and insecure which is a recurring theme in our arguments. i tried everything to repair our relationship but nothing came alright, luckily enough i was browsing on the internet and i saw testimony of clients who talked about Mr Robinson buckler and also i saw his email address robinsonbuckler@yahoo.com, i thought may be its also one of the scamming spell caster, but my heart was restless until i contacted him and i used his spell and it worked so nice, his spell made my husband to take me back as his wife, it also made my husband to love me more, anyone who want his or her lover back should contact robinsonbuckler or call him +19715126745 him

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