Herpes

IMG_2249I was diagnosed with genital HSV-1 in May 2013. I write about what it is like for me to live, date, and be sexually active with the heavily stigmatized STI.

I have also appeared on MTV’s Girl Code, HuffPost Live, and the What’s Underneath Project. You can also listen to me on the Savage Lovecast with Dan Savage.

Watch my TEDx talk about herpes stigma!

Read the transcript here.

Essays on my blog:

So you’ve just been diagnosed with herpes. Start here! I cover all the basics in this post: what you need to know, who you need to tell, how to protect your partners, where to find community, and the pep talk you definitely need right this minute.

My characters care about safe sex because I have to. This was the first time I put in print that I have herpes. This essay was my take on a debate about whether or not characters in erotica should have to use condoms.

What happened after I told the Internet I had herpes. This is how everyone I knew reacted to me going public, from my parents to my exes.

The conversation that never happened: On herpes and abusive relationships. How I got diagnosed. We need to talk about emotional abuse and STIs.

herpes virginity leavesHow I lost my post-herpes virginity. Having sex after getting diagnosed for the first time is scary! This is how it went for me.

Herpes two years later: On sex without condoms. Shockingly, I don’t always use condoms now. This essay is about why (and how).

To the teenage girls who have herpes. This world tells teen girls they’re worthless. Don’t listen.

Why should I date someone with herpes? A rant we all need to make from time to time. Stop asking me this question. Send this to anyone who is rude to you.

Why I don’t call herpes a “gift.” The STI community needs more language to describe our experiences, but this is slang I can’t get behind.

The badass women of TED. What happens when you have a herpes outbreak at a TED conference.

A lesson in herpes stigma, via Facebook comments. Because BuzzFeed’s readers are pretty terrible people.

Dear Internet commenters who really don’t want herpes. Sometimes you gotta talk back to the trolls.

the-herpes

Herpes Interviews

  • That wrestler I dated. This long conversation wound up being intense and personal. My ex and I talked about what makes sex unsafe, and if he worried about contracting herpes from me.
  • The ex I had to call. Getting diagnosed meant calling my old high school sweetheart to ask him to get tested. It was terrifying. This conversation is about how we remember that phone call.
  • The best friend. My college roommate had a front row seat to my diagnosis… and to the abusive relationship I was in at the time. She and I gabbed about that, as well as Vulvar Vestibulitis and why adults should talk about sex before having it.
  • The guy from the bar. I met a really nice dude at a bar like it’s 2004 or something! I told him I had herpes that night, we had sex the next night, and we’re still having sex now. Hurrah.

For MTV Founders:

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For Women’s Health:

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disclosure-tips

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On herpes journalism:

TIME Magazine ruined herpes journalism. Here’s how to fix it. My site editor Gabe Rosenberg and I read that 1982 cover story about herpes and it was goddamn awful. We dissected it and thought about what good herpes journalism would look like.

Why having a boyfriend doesn’t cure herpes. Please, please, please stop publishing essays about how you finally found someone who would love you despite your herpes diagnosis. There are other ways to heal, and there are better ways to challenge stigma.

5 rules for better herpes journalism. Because seriously, can we stop telling the same tear-jerking bullshit inspirational story? Oh my GOD.

RANKEDHeadlines on the herpes WHO report: RANKED. The World Health Organization discovered 2 out of 3 people have herpes. The Internet lost its mind.

I am not “suffering” from herpes. STOP DESCRIBING PEOPLE WITH HERPES AS “SUFFERERS.” OH MY GOD.

Why we need clicky, accessible herpes writing too. Some thoughts on writing about herpes for a mainstream audience, including poppy listicles.

 

56 thoughts on “Herpes

  1. Thank you for your posts. I got diagnosed today and I feel like it’s the end of the world. I never thought this would happen to me and I have so many emotions that are overwhelming and I don’t know how to deal with it. Your posts help me right now but it’s still new and I’m scared for the future.

  2. I am newly diagnosed and just want to thank you. I feel A LOT better having watched your TED Talk and reading your blog entries/articles. You are truly an inspiration and a new role model of mine.

  3. I read these thoughts on herpes and regarding its treatment which are really good. Along with this you can also use the essential oils to treat your herpes outbreaks. Curing herpes with oregano oil is the best remedy which you have never ever used. You may reduce the symptoms by simply applying pure oregano oil at the affected area. It will reduce your suffering by reducing inflammation and pain. You may easily treat your skin condition with the help of oregano oil.

  4. The information on your site regarding herpes is really good. Additionally i have found oregano oil for herpes treatment to be the most effective herpes treatment. If you are frustrated with over the counter medications, give a chance to oregano oil for herpes. This oil is capable to deal with herpes and its hazardous symptoms without damaging your skin. This essential oil fights with your symptoms and you may lead a herpes free life. Always remember to use pure oregano oil for herpes .

  5. Hi Ella!
    I found a video testimonial you made before I found your blog, and it was very helpful to me. I watched it this morning hours before getting tested for herpes (it came back positive). It made me less scared and more prepared for what I was pretty certain I would have to face coming up. I did have a question for you (or perhaps some other people on this site): I found on the CDC website that the first outbreak usually happens about 4 days after contracting it. If I am pretty certain I know when this happened, and I have already talked with the guy I think this happened from and he is getting tested, should I still contact all of my past partners to get tested? It’d be great to minimize the number of conversations I have to make, but if I still need to have them, I will.
    Thanks again for your testimonials and writing about your experiences! It is such a blessing to know I’m not alone and that this can be manageable.

  6. Thank you for your blog! After getting Herpes Simplex 1 from oral a year and a half into a relationship I was pretty overwhelmed. I have learned a lot, and now I know that it isn’t the end of the world or my sex life.
    However, I have monthly+ breakouts, and I am preparing to start suppression therapy. You mentioned in a post that you were taking a pill once a day over months. What was your experience?
    There is little information out there about this, and it seems that many doctors don’t even give this as an option. Do you have a blog post dedicated to this topic? What do I have to change in my diet while on Valacyclovir? Can a drink a glass of wine? Drink more water because it is harmful for my kidneys? How harmful is this medication and are there alternatives?
    I would be surprised if I’m the only person searching for answers to these questions.
    Thank you again for your great amount of information about Herpes and for presenting this information on a personal level. I feel relieved having heard your advice.

    1. Hey Sina! I took Valtrex daily for over a year and didn’t run into much trouble. Drink lots of water and speak to your doctor if you’re having side effects, but it’s a very common drug. It doesn’t require any diet changes, no. I doubt you’ll have difficulty obtaining it — I’ve never heard of a doctor denying anyone a prescription.

  7. Hey Ella!
    I just got diagnosed with Genital HSV-1 back in December and I was scared shitless. I didn’t feel like I was worthy of dating anyone again let alone have sex with them…I have always been a pretty confident person but this shook me to my core because of all of the negative social stigma around the virus. I’m really glad I found your blog and I’m really glad you speak up about herpes because I think more people should. I just want to thank you for giving me the confidence to be proud of my body again and for the courage to speak up about my diagnosis. I am dating someone right now and it was my first time having to tell a new partner about my herpes. It was scary, but I’m glad I did it and we are still together.

    THANK YOU ELLA!!

  8. When I first was diagnosed in 2012 I thought it must have been from when I was raped in 2007..the way my virginity was truly lost or stolen rather. But then there was another time I had sex for 2 minutes without a condom and of course there was my current bf that I trusted with all of my heart with whom I never used a condom. I was certain it had to have been from when I was raped bc it’s so dark and the best way to leave my conscience clean from guilt for having consentual sex. It made me feel like I didn’t get it because I was a slut. Even though I had sex with only a handful of guys anyway. I felt like I was just sentenced life in shame and pain. My immediate thought was to be a good person tell my whole sexual history of partners just in case I might have spread it so they can take precautions to not spread it just in case. Most of everyone was very sympathetic and concerned. My bf at the time was cool at first but didn’t have sex with me for a while and reminded me how lucky I was and how great he was for not leaving me…my fear of finding someone else who would accept me the same way kept me with this asshole for a whole other year. I signed up for emotional torment but moving on. At first it didn’t hurt my feelings once I did research and got on Valtrex I felt OK and safe to disclose to sexual partners…I repeat at first for a reason. One of the guys I hooked up with just the week before (my bf and I were on a break) I got the news was very upset about it said it aloud at a kickback when he saw his friend texting me. The word spread like wild fire. This shook me for a second but I decided to cut that circle of people out of my life and stay strong in who I was unshaken. I still disclosed just fine. Then a girl posted on Twitter that I had herpes and I was gross..this broke me. It shattered my morals and self worth. I stopped disclosing and even worse I slept around even more bc I didn’t value myself. I never cared to say no bc I already had an std and I was gross. I barely knew the girl, I never did anything to the bitch, yet she was filled with hatred and directed towards me. Later I met a guy that I really liked, didnt disclose, had sex, felt guilty, confessed, he forgave, we dated, broke up, then he turned out to be a psycho: he would threaten me saying things like I know your secret about your herpes, how many guys would want to fuck you knowing your secret, you’re lucky I still like fucking you. I never told anyone I had herpes again until summer 2015 after hooking up with a hs friend(same guilt situation but actually forgot about it in the moment bc I repressed it for 2 years) and then this message and the oobsession was in 2013 when I was 21. I decided since the risk was so small it wasn’t important enough to go through the humiliation and agony when the chances were I wouldn’t transmit it anyway. I lived a fun sexual life again with little regard to respecting myself. In 2014 I started to love myself again. I slowed down my promiscuity but still didnt have the gall to disclose. By the end of 2015 I started feeling really empty carrying this pain inside and knowing that my hook ups would never be anything more. Yet I needed sex like a drug. I needed to physically feel good. I needed to be sexually gratifying. I was OK with hook ups but I was tired of feeling empty and guilty for not disclosing so I swore off sex in 2016. I really did it too. I thought maybe if I took a break and grew as a person that Id overcome all of this and be rational and loving in my future decisions for sex. I thought I could heal and strengthen my mind to overcome the bs I went through. But I didn’t at all. I finally met a guy I really adore. He’s kinda perfect to me. We get along great he’s not a horndog who is after one thing. He enjoys me as a person. I enjoy him. But it’s early. All we know is what we see. We barely scratched the surface of knowing each other. Right when I first was starting to like him before we admitted it to each other I told myself I’m going to tell him I have herpes if I want to hook up or be with him. Things progressed and I’m on full I like you and want to know you well mode. I had every intention on telling him. I was on the phone with him and I just wanted to say I have herpes so casually and matter of fact. I pictured him hanging up on me or being grossed out and not wanting to talk to me. I was going to see him the next so I planned to do it in person. We were hanging out and it was in the back of my mind the whole time. I kept thinking how do I shift the conversation to this topic, how do I tell him. We started making out and things got heated. I took a moment and stopped. My conscience was yelling tell him or don’t have sex with him. Stop it stop it my brain was saying. I froze for a second staring at him. We’re both naked and he’s looking back at me. My thoughts are tell him then it was like the devil in my shoulder whispered in my ear, remember Tre how he used it against you and all those times you were humiliated, he goes the gym you used to work at you know the same people he can tell them and it’ll be the same thing all over again. If you tell him it’ll be the same as before. You don’t know him that well how can you trust him with such a sensitive piece of information about yourself. If you tell him, it’ll be one more person that knows, one more person to make you feel bad, one more person to use it against you, one more person to reject you. Besides you never had an outbreak so yyou’re less likely to transmit it. He asked what’s up and I said nothing, told myself he probably wouldn’t contract it anyway the chances were so low,and continued on. We had sex. It was like my brain left the building and my body was on autopilot make me feel good. Now I’m this monster that betrayed his trust before we really had a chance at a relationship. I could have said no, he wouldn’t have pressured me, he would have been totally OK with it. So I don’t know why I did it instead of buying myself more time to tell him. I wanted to just say it blatant I have herpes but fear of what would happen next muffled me. It should be a normal boring thing to say but the fear of embarrassment criples my mind and morals. How do I overcome it and the pain? How do I make this situation right? I’m hurting bc this is a situation in the first place. Im hurting bc if the turn of events in my life. I’m hurting bc I betrayed trust from a guy I genuinely care about and like and I haven’t felt like this about a guy since high school, I’m 24 now. I kind of want to just be done with him wait a couple of weeks and be like sorry but I have herpes and you need to get tested. Another part of me wants to apologize and confess and see what he has to say. Another part wants to bury it under the rug and never address it. I know my actions were selfish and wrong and against everything I believe in and who I’ve been trying to work towards becoming. What’s the most loving thing to do? Is it that important he knows… Sure it is, I just don’t want to admit how much of an asshole I am at this and I don’t want to face up to it. But I can’t just do nothing. Idk how I fuck up at doing what’s right so easily. So if anyone has word of encouragement or advice on how I should move forward I would greatly appreciate it. I just want to make things as right as possibly can.

  9. Ella! Haha! This shit is great. Best resource I’ve found, by far. I’m over statistics and fear.

    I met a dream girl a couple months ago. Something clicked, but she needed time to deal with a recently ending relationship. I tried to be patient, but couldn’t get her out of my head. I needed to regain focus and took a step back from the situation. My birthday rolled around, a connection with someone else appeared, and a one night only romp unfolded. This might have been no big deal. We had the STD conversation, we used a condom during sex, and I certainly had no monogamous agreement with dream girl. However, we exchanged oral and I got HSV 1.

    As I sat in the doctors office, panicking over whatever was happening to my dick, I checked my phone to find a message from dream girl. She was feeling ready to spend some time together. I was beyond crushed. I had never fucked up so bad in my life! I didn’t pursue the hangout and she went home for the holidays, leaving me with weeks to agonize over what I’d done.

    She comes home in a few days. I may have fucked up, but I won’t give up. I still am everything she was originally attracted to and can’t let herpes break my confidence. I can still feel sexy as hell and chase dreams. I’m starting to feel hope building up after reading your stories. So awesome.

    I dunno what will happen, but thanks bro. Your doing real fine work, I do believe we all have to own this.

  10. Ella, you are my spirit animal. I was diagnosed with HSV 3 weeks ago and already back in the dating world. I haven’t disclosed to anyone yet but will when I find the right person. I’ve worked too hard to be brought down by the stigma of this virus. I am smart, successful and have many qualities that someone will appreciate. I know rejection will come but then on to the next. Confidence and education is key in my disclosure process. I am me and this happened and it’s shitty so take it or leave it. Thank you for your blog, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I was to find it! Why should I let this define me? I won’t and neither should anyone else.

  11. Ella,
    All I can say is thank you. It’s been three years since I was diagnosed and telling a potential partner has yet to get easier for me. As I cry while writing this, your stories and words somehow give me courage and confidence again. You’re special.

  12. Hello Ella! The 1st link (“Why I love telling…”) doesn’t actually link to what it’s supposed to.
    I’m struggling with my herpes diagnosis and I read your articles often. I hope to make peace with it soon. Thank you so very much!

  13. I want to say thank you for what u do. You r helping so many people with your story. You’ve def helped me out. I have had herpes for 14 years and just now starting telling people in my life I have it this past year. I am 34 years old and the struggle is real. Its not easy to talk about at first but the more I discuss my STI with others the more confident I become. I figure if someone takes off running like a crazy ass or says something ignorant…well, they can just go have sexual intercourse (not sure if the F-bomb is appropriate here) with themselves. I haven’t run into that problem though. You are a beautiful person and truly an inspiration.

  14. I just saw something on Cosmopolitans snap chat about a horror story of a girls “untreated herpes” leading to a life threatening condition that left her with brain damage. The story says nothing about how bizarre that sounds to most people with HSV2 and exactly how rare that is. I’m so worried about the backlash this could have and the increased fear this could cause.

  15. I also have Herpes. I’ve had it for about 14yrs. There is a great website out there for us ProjectAccept.org plus there are hundreds of secrect Facebook pages for people with Herpes. We have great info and contacts on living with Herpes.

  16. I was diagnosed 3 years ago. I stayed with my boyfriend for another year and a half because I couldn’t face thinking no one would ever want me now. That clever decision saddled me with more emotional trauma and trust issues than I’ve any clue how to juggle. I’ve only disclosed to 8 people, and I still cry about how worthless and disgusting I feel every month. I also feel like a “tinder menace” as you put it, and meticulously avoid starting serious relationships. My friends and doctors all tell me I’m worth more than my worst trait, but it’s me who can’t forgive the stigma. I’m a research scientist, my whole life is dedicated to understanding and preventing disease. I wish I had your strength and to look at this logically and rationally, but I just can’t. I found your blog as a recommended link from a study linking HSV to colin cell death. It’s selfish of me to post such a negative message in such a wonderful and positive space, but I can tell you’re a nice enough person that you’d want to hug me, and that knowledge is worth it to me.

  17. I feel like I need to write you something to just say thank you. Today a friend showed me your video for StyleLikeU and it has completely overwhelmed me and reduced me to tears. Since my first outbreak in December I have been in a continuous cycle of denial and acceptance that I have Herpes. I have been with two people, one of those being my boyfriend of a year who gave me this illness. He had his first outbreak 4 months into our relationship and I stuck by him as I wasn’t prepared to give up what we had. We were so careful every time he had an outbreak and I even now blame myself for not being even more so.
    I was so terrifed and ashamed I only spoke to him about it and kept putting off going to the clinic. I would have breakdowns and send myself into dark depressions because of the pain and amount of flare ups I was having. It put a huge strain on our relationship when I got my first blisters because of the guilt he felt and the sadness I had for contracting it. We would alternate of him having an outbreak for a week and then I’d have mine, not only ruining our sex life but also the romance and excitement of an early relationship. I have only this month gone to see a doctor and it has helped me so much. I now have tablets and numbing cream and have more positive information to know that I’m not alone. I feel so silly I waited this long thinking I could deal with it by myself.
    I think the scariest part of this illness is the isolation it causes. I would stay in the house for days because of the pain and shame I felt, not knowing the percentage of people that have this illness. I cannot tell you how much it has even helped me reading yours and other peoples stories on this page rather than the horror stories that are all over the internet. I feel like this is dealable and I will be ok. I have now told my two closest friends and my mum which is such a huge step for me to feel like I have more people to confide in. The stigma that is put with Herpes bothers me so much and I can’t say that I’m not terrified for if me and my boyfriend break up how I will ever have sex with a new partner. I am scared for the future but reading your story has completely opened up my eyes. There are other people going through this and for people to have meant partners who are understanding of the illness, and even the fact that I stuck by my boyfriend gives me hope.

    I don’t think you will ever realise how much you helped me and I thank you so much.

  18. I just saw a video you did for style like you. I was diagnosed with type II herpes at age 17, and am now 20. I always felt I was guilty, I was responsible in some way, that I deserved what I got, but you showed me I was wrong. I would just like to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for having spoken the words I was to afraid to say. For having given me hope, for showing me that herpes is not who I am. You have touched me in such a way, I can’t even describe it. I will forever be grateful to you, for your message, for the strengh you have given me. Thank you, thank you so very much. I will forever be grateful to you. Thank you

  19. I was diagnosed with hepatitis B and thought my life from now on is ruined 😦 and pretty much that’s that because now I have to eat certain foods and refrain from alcohol in order to protect my liver. I would have preferred to catch herpes..

  20. Ella,
    I was wondering if you might help spread the word that an IndyGoGo campaign started today for a broad spectrum anti-viral cure called DRACO. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-end-viral-diseases-with-dracos#/
    The campaign has been years in the making by a small, very motivated, group of HSV sufferers. I don’t mean to spread false hope. It will be years in a best case scenario before this would appear in a clinic but I was hoping, given your followers, that you might mention the campaign.

    Thanks,

  21. Thank you Ella, for being so brave and honest and putting yourself out there. I am a 50 year old single mother. I got herpes when I was 29 from a guy I was dating. The sad thing is, even though he did not tell me before we slept together, that he had herpes, he told me after we had been dating and had sex a few times. Even after that, I did not make him wear a condom so, of course, I got herpes but, not until after we had broken up. In retrospect, I know I didn’t make him wear a condom because I did not love myself enough (and clearly he did not care about me) to insist that he wear one so that I could try protect myself. I think I just wanted him to love me. How sick was that?

    I was devastated by the diagnosis. I was really depressed and beat myself up for being so incredibly stupid to compromise myself and my health that way. I didn’t date for a long time and finally met my soon to be husband when I was 32. I was terrified to tell him, but knew I had to before our relationship became sexual. When I did tell him, he was very accepting and supportive, which was very healing for me, to an extent. We got married and had two kids but, eventually our relationship did not work out and we got divorced. It was not a good marriage and ended badly. We have managed to co-parent our two wonderful kids though. I have not dated for over a decade that I have been a single mom. I’ve told myself and others that I just didn’t have time and wanted to dedicate myself to raising my kids. When, in actuality, it is because I am afraid to make myself that vulnerable to being hurt again. Clearly, I have work to do because I do not want to go the rest of my life without romantic love. It is scary but you have inspired me to deal with my shit and stop hiding. Life is scary but, I cannot continue to live in fear.

    On the positive side of having herpes. I realized that I had to start taking really good care of myself because stress causes outbreaks and I wanted to avoid getting them at all costs. I exercise, eat right and have to say that I look amazing at 50 and feel like I’m still 24. I still have major self esteem issues though and, realize that I will always be a work in progress.

    Until I found out about you, I always thought that with everything out there, with all the information about everything all over the internet, no one was talking about herpes. Thank you for being so brave and so honest and open. I know that it must be incredibly difficult but, you have helped me, and I’m sure, countless others, and for that, I cannot thank you enough.

  22. I can’t tell you how much reading your story on Buzzfeed and your blog changed my life. I was also diagnosed with genital herpes a few days before my 21st birthday – and instead of spending it at the bars, I spent it in the hospital. My initial/first outbreak landed me there for four days in a row. It was absolutely traumatizing. I then found out I had contracted it from my boyfriend who didn’t even know he had it. We are both healthy and managing today but sex has been a challenge for me. Ive been feeling ruined and damaged in a way. It was a huge blow to my confidence and severely hurt my overall mental health. But your story opened my eyes and made me realize I’m not ruined because of this. I can’t tell you how much I needed to know I’m not alone and that I can still have a normal life despite this diagnosis. Thank you so so so much, Ella.

  23. I found out yesterday that I was experiencing my first outbreak, and it’s been a little traumatizing to say the least. Reading all your blogs has been so inspirational and I’m feeling so much more optimistic about everything. I do have a concern that I don’t quite know how to handle…

    I just recently started dating someone (it’s been a month) and I care for him a lot. However, my first outbreak has happened and I don’t know how to handle it. Do I tell him what’s going on? Was it him who gave it to me? Or has this virus just been dormant until now? If anyone has any advice on this, I’d really appreciate it.

    1. Hi Brooke! I would definitely tell him. I would do your research so that when you talk about it, you are knowledgeable. I would tell him that you are experiencing your first outbreak. Let him know that as it can be dormant in some people, it could have come from either of you and he should get tested. Let him know that it has zero health side effects. I call it the acne of the vagina. That’s my opinion darling but I would 100% tell him. I was sideblinded by someone who lied about having it and it really hurt.

  24. Thank you! My story is not the same as yours. When I was younger I was promiscuous and pretty reckless. I finally got my act together, was in a healthy relationship and then got my first outbreak. I told my boyfriend right away but it changed things and we soon broke up. During the break up he called me a diseased whore. I was devastated, I felt ruined and I was so ashamed of myself. The stigma surrounding the Herpes Virus is awful and I think your blog (and Buzzfeed’s post) is such a positive step in the right direction. Your courage is so admirable and gives me hope.

  25. Thank you so much for saying the things all of us are afraid to say. You are one brave woman being so open about this diesase. I was diagnosed a year ago; I started dating a guy who I knew had it. Of course, I was skeptical at first and it took me awhile to feel comfortable enough to have intercourse with him. I let my guard down and stopped using protection and a week later I had symptoms. He left me two months later, and someone who I thought was my friend told the whole town about it. I lost all of my friends and I’m constantly the topic of everyone’s awful conversations. 6 months ago, I found the love of my life. Everyone told him about me but he didn’t care, and now we are engaged to get married of the summer of 2016. I hate the disease but it also helped me find myself..I found a new comfort in loving my body for what it is. I can’t change it, so why dwell?
    You are amazing for telling everyone your story, we are all inspired by you. We all think it’s the end of the world, but it’s far from it. 🙂

    1. “I lost all of my friends and I’m constantly the topic of everyone’s awful conversations.”

      It just shows you how insane society is, that you are ostracized for having something that 90% of the fucking world has. People are fucking stupid.

  26. I am so glad I found your site. I’ve had Herpes for 2 years now and it took me 19 months to feel comfortable having sex again. My outbreaks haven’t been bad, and I never think about it. I’ve lived with acne for the last 18 years and honestly that has brought me more stress and low self-esteem that this STD. It’s terrifying to tell a partner about it but all of my friends know. I want them to be aware of how common it is and they’ve all been very supportive.

  27. Thank you for this, I also like reading the other reader’s comments too, it makes me feel less alone and less of a leper. If anyone else reads my comment and you’re worried about someone not wanting you, which I totally understand, that someone WILL come along. When I told my now husband, he said he didn’t care what I have, he wanted to marry me anyway. I’ll love him to my core for the rest of my life. We have one 2 yr old and one on the way. You can still have the life you want.

    1. Hi my name’s Michelle. I was just reading your comment there and it reduced me to tears (yet again!) I got diagnosed with herpes last October and I’ve been finding it quite hard. Today has been one of my bad days; I’ve cried and been full of worry I won’t find a partner who understands and it’s a horrible feeling to have. By reading this, it has given me some hope that there are some decent men out there who will take you as you are, in spite of your std. Thank you.

      1. Hii Michelle,

        I’ve been H+ for 4 1/2 years. Does it get better?… Eh… Some times. That’s me being honest. BUT! You will find a partner. some one will love you for who you are. When you are ready to date again, the best advice, is it to be 100% sure you are ready to tell this other person. Give them all the REAL facts about it. Most people just know the negative stigma behind it.
        I’ve found love, been together for 2 years and… He accepts me, for me.
        Be positive, move forward, and best of all keep healthy!

  28. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing what so many people are afraid to. I was diagnosed with herpes and multiple sclerosis in college (talk about a double whammy)! It’s really hard to feel like you’re worth anything after that but it makes it so much easier when you know you’re not alone.

  29. A friend sent me this link and boy did I need it today. I just ended a long term relationship with a man accepting of my herpes ( even saying the word is traumatic still). I sit here in FEAR that no one else will love me. I myself see that herpes is more of a pest and inconvenient at times, but the STIGMA has labeled me TOXIC. how do I make someone understand? How do I put myself out there? How will I manage rejection? I have felt ASHAMED, SILENCED AND DEPRESSED. thank you for changing the dialogue and allowing me to feel not so alone.

  30. Your story on buzz feed was so inspiring. I was given this unwanted gift 7 years ago and they only person I had been with doesn’t have a sign of it . Although it’s super depressing and something I have to live with everyday in hope to have the same spirit that you have one day.

  31. Hi Ella,
    your story is truly inspiring, as someone who recently discovered that I have HPV and possibly HSV, I had a really tough time accepting what is happening to me. It feels comforting that people are talking about it more and more. It’s still a taboo, people are not willing to take responsibility (there was only one guy I could get it from and he was in denial) and I know dating will be challenging. Since the first outbreak happened (about 7 months ago), I went through other health issues, which might be connected to these viruses, that is hyperthyroidism. I’m still avoiding dating, and haven’t been sexually involved ever since. I still don’t feel confident enough to make such a step. Now, I know I’m not alone and your advice is really helpful.

    All the best!

  32. Hi Ella,
    I think what you’re doing is awesome. I came across the article on Buzzfeed like many others and for the first time since my HSV-1 diagnosis almost 3 years ago, I thought, “finally!” You are brave and I admire you. I think it’s really important to debunk the stigma around herpes. I felt the intense pangs of isolation and guilt (fun way to ring in the new year in 2013-crying on your mother’s lap at 22) that you write beautifully about. And it was hard to reconcile, because I had been with my first boyfriend for 4 years, and finally, when I decided to date again and found some special enough to call my boyfriend, he had a cold sore but still went down under and…that was that. That’s not slutty (we can talk about the problems with that word later) or gross, as I felt, that’s just life. And I hope through your words other people who find out they’re positive just remember that it’s life, it can happen to anyone. And it’s going to be okay. Thank you for what you’re doing. I look forward to reading more in the future!

  33. Hi Ella,
    I think what you’re doing is awesome. I came across the article on Buzzfeed like many others and for the first time since my HSV-1 diagnosis almost 3 years ago, I thought, “finally!” You are brave and I admire you. I think it’s really important to debunk the stigma around herpes. I felt the intense pangs of isolation and guilt (fun way to ring in the new year in 2013-crying on your mother’s lap at 22) that you write beautifully about. And it was hard to reconcile, because I had been with my first boyfriend for 4 years, and finally, when I decided to date again and found some special enough to call my boyfriend, he had a cold sore but still went down under and…that was that. That’s not slutty or gross, as I felt, that’s just life. And I hope through your words other people who find out they’re positive just remember that it’s life, it can happen to anyone. And it’s going to be okay. Thank you for what you’re doing. I look forward to reading more in the future!

  34. I feel like I need to write to you after coming across yor article on buzzfeed. When I saw the title I immediately jumped in my car and parked away from everyone to read it. I’m sitting here crying the happiest tears I’ve cried since being diagnosed. I don’t know how to start thanking you for your bravery. I’m 21, I was diagnosed a few days after my 19th boyfriend. I was lied to by my first boyfriend I’ve ever had. We stayed together until I found out from a past girlfriend he lied about not knowing he had it.
    I have not dealt with this well. I am a figure competitor body builder, I am a soldier in the US Army and have nothing but success in the things I do, but have always gone to bed in tears. The stigma attached to this disease is so horrible and you made the first step in the right direction. I haven’t gone on a date or put myself in the situation of having to tell anyone since leaving my first boyfriend.
    Tonight I’m going to accept the invitation offered by a guy I’ve really liked. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without your bravery. Thank you so much, I won’t forget this day or how much you just changed the way I feel about myself.

  35. A girl I dated for four months while in Spain gave me Herpes 1 and 2, she did not tell me until after I had a sore after the second time we had sex. I always use a condom, but not for oral sex. I think what you’re doing is shedding some positive light on the issue. Now that I’m back in the States, I am dreading the thought of telling a girl/potential partner that I have Herpes 1 and 2. I had mixed reactions while in Spain. I am not so confident about how the “talk” will go now that I’m back.

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