Here’s another pet peeve of my email inbox: when a man (because it’s almost always a man) asks me if he should continue seeing this woman he’s been dating who just told him she has herpes. Sometimes the question is data-based, about what transmission statistics are real. Sometimes the question is esoteric, about whether or not he truly knew this woman in the first place. And sometimes it’s the classic entitled bullshit I face on Twitter all the time: I’m not a jerk for dumping someone who poses a risk to my health, right? Why on Earth would I knowingly choose to put myself in danger like that? Is she worth it?
I don’t know, man. Does your dick get hard around her? Is she nice?
When you ask me questions about if you should date someone with herpes, I know you’re looking for an expert opinion. You’ve never given herpes any serious thought before and here I am, a woman with herpes and a blog, who has so generously spilled her guts to the Internet about what it’s like. It’s just a simple question to you: should I date this person, yes or no?
But to me, it feels like you’re asking me to justify my value. The facts on herpes are actually quite clear when you do research online: herpes transmission is not that simple, particularly when both parties make an effort to use condoms, antivirals, dental dams, and so forth. I know couples who have gone years without transmitting by being honest with each other about when they are having outbreaks. The person most likely to give you herpes is the person who doesn’t know they have it in the first place.
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