So You’ve Just Been Diagnosed With Herpes

Man, you’ve had a rough day. Getting diagnosed with herpes is a bit like someone shoved a broom handle through the spokes of your bike when you were cruising along smoothly—suddenly the world is upside-down and everything hurts and it feels like strangers are laughing at you even though the street is empty and there is no one there to see you licking your wounds on the pavement. But there’s a silver lining to getting diagnosed with herpes: most of us have fallen off our bikes too. You’re not alone in having an STI. Here’s what you should know, from someone who has been through everything that you’re going through.


You are still you. You are still the person you were yesterday, before you were diagnosed. You are still really great at Super Mario Party, and you’re still a loyal friend, and you still can’t believe everyone hates jelly doughnuts as much as they claim to. The people who love you most in this world, the people who know you to your core, will continue to love you. You will live the life that you want, and no doors have been closed to you. 2 in 3 people in the world have HSV-1, and 1 in 6 people have HSV-2 (those rates are even higher for women, and for people of color). You’re in good company. Welcome to the family.

I remember sitting in my mother’s backyard maybe two months after I was diagnosed with genital HSV-1. I was twenty-one years old and dating a baby sociopath, who had just stood up our plans to have a barbecue with my parents. This wasn’t how I deserved to be treated, I realized as I plucked strands of grass out of ground. I was still badass Ella Dawson from back in April, and she didn’t deserve to be treated like this. I couldn’t know for sure the day that I’d gotten herpes, but I knew it had to have been a few weeks before I’d been diagnosed. I’d walked around for a while not knowing I’d harbored the virus, and for those few weeks I’d loved myself and my life and the world at large. I just hadn’t known yet. I hadn’t changed into a new person overnight because of this diagnosis, my worldview had been colored by an epically bad first outbreak. Herpes hadn’t changed my life; my perspective had changed.

I know, I know, that sounds like total bullshit. Herpes will change some things—we’ll talk about that later. But that soul-crushing confusion and loss and identity crisis you’re having right now? That’s the result of a powerful, invasive and invisible social stigma. Thanks to terrible sex education, poor medical practice and testing, and pop culture that depicts STIs as punchlines and stereotypes rather than super common, we got the message that herpes happens to gross people. You’re not immoral or irresponsible or untrustworthy or damaged. You’re you, and you’re fucking great. Even if you made a mistake, you do not “deserve” to get herpes. Herpes isn’t a karmic punishment—it’s a skin condition that almost everyone has.

Love yourself. That is how you will get through this first stage of “OH MY GOD, EVERYTHING SUCKS.” You are your best ally.


[A caveat: I am not a medical professional. I am, however, a chick with herpes who has spent three years reading everything she can get her hands on. Vive la Google! This CDC fact sheet is wonderful, as is this PDF by the folks at Herpes Opportunity. And this one.]

Herpes is a skin condition. It’s considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI) because it can be spread through oral, vaginal and anal sex, but is often not sexual at all. Family members can give each other oral herpes by kissing when they have cold sores (yes, cold sores are herpes). Many people contract oral herpes as kids and grow up with it, never thinking of it as an STI. You can contract herpes without having sex. You can also get herpes from receiving a blowjob and cunnilingus. You can get herpes from rubbing your junk up against someone else’s junk. The important factor here is skin contact. Condoms do not fully prevent the risk of transmitting herpes for the simple fact that condoms do not cover everything (that being said, condoms are great).

But there is good news! No seriously, there is. Herpes transmission is pretty easy to prevent once you know your status and take whatever precautions make the most sense for you. Over time, you will learn when you have outbreaks (if you have another outbreak at all, which many of us don’t). For some, outbreaks are triggered by sunlight and saltwater, commonly for oral herpes. For others, extreme stress and other illness can trigger outbreaks because their immune system is compromised. You might learn you have prodromal symptoms: weird tells like tingling or itching that warn you’re about to have an outbreak. You’re most likely to transmit herpes to a partner just before, during, or after an outbreak, and if you avoid skin contact at the place where you have outbreaks during those times, you should be fine. The people most likely to transmit herpes are people who do not know they have herpes (CDC fact sheet).

There’s also this thing called asymptomatic viral shedding, which means that herpes wakes up in your body, so to speak, and can be transmitted despite the fact that you’re not showing symptoms. Research shows that individuals with HSV-2 are “shedding” on 10% of days, which sounds scary as fuck but in reality varies from person to person and body to body. We’re all special snowflakes with our own immune systems and viruses. The best takeaway here is to use barrier methods like condoms and dental dams during sexual activity. You can also take something called “suppressive therapy,” or “anti-virals,” which are a once a day pill that suppress the virus in your system and makes you less likely to transmit herpes or have outbreaks. Talk to your doctor about them! I take an anti-viral when I’m in a relationship and having sex all the time, mostly for my partner’s peace of mind and not because I’m actually worried about transmitting.

There’s a lot of scary misinformation about how having herpes impacts pregnancy, and for that I’m going to bounce you over to Britni de la Cretaz. Spoiler alert: don’t worry about it. You can have kids. You can have a natural birth.

Did all that information freak you out? Yeah, I’m sorry. Raw data is intimidating and lacks the warm touch of talking to another person who has herpes. If you’re feeling alone and overwhelmed right now, remember the statistics about how common herpes is. Although everyone has a different experience with the virus, it does not have to be a big deal. Take a break and go watch this adorable video of munchkin kittens.


Forget about the future for now. Forget about dating and what this means about your identity and all that shit and focus on today. Do you have access to medical care, if you need it? If you are having an outbreak, can you get the medication that you need? A prescription of Valacyclovir or Acyclovir (the generic names for Valtrex, etc) will help sores heal faster. The idea of going to a doctor and talking about herpes might be unthinkable right now if you’re embarrassed, but you will be glad you did for two reasons: you will want medication, and you will definitely want a real diagnosis. Ask your doctor to take a direct culture of your sores—a culture test is a solid bet at a reliable diagnosis, particularly of which strain of herpes you have. A doctor who diagnoses you by sight alone can often be wrong and can’t tell you which strain you have (any doctor who assumes genital herpes is HSV-2 is not a good doctor—many people have genital HSV-1, especially women who get it from receiving oral from a partner who has a cold sore). You can get a blood test later, but in my experience they’re less accurate.

Pain killers like Extra Strength Tylenol dull the sting of sores, and ibuprofen will bring down your fever if you’re running hot. I spent most of my first outbreak in scalding hot baths filled with Epsom salt, which also helped ease the pain. Even if it hurts to pee, drink plenty of water; medication dehydrates you and you need all the strength you have. The same goes for sleep. You need sleep. I had my first outbreak during finals week of my junior year of college and I think I spent most of it napping on top of my books at the library (most of my professors took pity on me and granted me extensions when I told them what was wrong). The important thing to keep in mind is that this outbreak will end, and no future outbreak will be as bad as this one. That’s not some phony inspirational quote: your symptoms will never physically be this bad. That’s how the virus works.

The second part of housekeeping is what everyone freaks out about: you gotta make some phone calls. The people who most need to know that you’ve been diagnosed with herpes are your current and most recent partners, as they are the most likely to have either given you the STI or potentially received it from you. There’s no way to hack these conversations: they might suck or they might be wonderful depending on the person you’re speaking to.

It’s important to be aware of how you’re feeling before you have that conversation. Are you furious and convinced this person got you sick? Maybe wait to cool down. Are you mortified and looking for support? Be aware that you have your guard down and their reaction could help or hurt you when you’re this vulnerable. Are you worried they’ll fly off the handle? Make decisions to protect yourself and your well-being. Delay a conversation you’re not in the best place to have yet. Don’t contact someone if doing so puts you in physical jeopardy (survivors of assault or abuse, click here.) There are also online services that can help you contact someone anonymously, like So They Can Know.

I did these conversations the old-fashioned way: I called my ex-boyfriend and told him I’d just been diagnosed and that he should get tested. He was great about it. You can read about our conversation here.

Telling the boy I was seeing at the time went much less smoothly, because he was a terrible person. Anyone who calls you a whore and accuses you of ruining their life is not someone who deserves to know you. Walk away from those people. An STI does not justify abuse.

As much as these conversations are scary, they’re important. Partner notification is the right thing to do, and it can help you understand when you got herpes (and by extension, who else you do or don’t need to contact). If your past and present partners are good people, they can also be an important source of support as you process your diagnosis.

Finally, other than the people you’ve had sex with, you don’t need to tell anyone else if you don’t want to. Your STI is no one else’s business, and you get to decide who you want to trust with this information. But I strongly recommend telling whoever it is that you wish you could talk to about this, that person who you tell everything to. Maybe that’s your mom, or your best friend, or that co-worker you get lunch with every day to gossip about Hot Kevin in marketing. Dealing with a diagnosis is so much harder when you’re dealing with it alone, and if you’re honest with yourself, you might find that all you need right now is for someone who loves you to tell you that herpes doesn’t change how they see you. Be brave, and be smart, and ask for the help that you need.

Also, therapy is great. I’m just saying.


So if everyone has herpes, where the fuck are they? I get a lot—and I mean a lot—of emails from folks who desperately need someone to talk to, and unfortunately I can’t be your herpes pen pal. I have anxiety and it makes it hard for me to support people who have just been diagnosed, which is part of why I’m making this post as a resource for the newly diagnosed who find me and have questions. But there are lots of communities online who can help you out and relate to what you’re going through! Here are some of the places you can go:

Facebook is full of herpes support groups. Seriously, so many. There are hundreds of them. Most of them are secret and unsearchable for obvious reasons, but I’m sure a few mods will jump into the comments here to offer guidance for folks looking for them. I don’t participate in Facebook groups for herpes because they’re just not for me, but they’ve brought a lot of my friends tremendous relief.

There’s a wonderful herpes community on Tumblr, nicknamed herpblr. In my experience, it’s best for teenagers and women in their twenties who have recently been diagnosed.

There are also lots of chat boards and websites available. I’m wary of any website or community that requires you to pay to create an account (which is one reason among many that I hate herpes dating services). But I respect the leadership of Herpes Opportunity, which is great for folks in their thirties and up.

I’m also not the only herpes-positive writer covering STIs! Check out the Herpes+ Writer Directory.

And finally, you do have people in your life who have herpes. I guarantee that you have family members with herpes, friends with herpes, co-workers with herpes, celebrity crushes with herpes. If you’re comfortable telling the people in your life that you have an STI, you might be surprised by who answers, “Me too!”


You can still date and fuck and fall in love and have casual sex on softball fields with hot jocks from college. I mean, I am, and if I can then anyone can.

Herpes does not mean that you are lucky to find that one person who will love you anyway. Herpes does not mean that you have to be celibate, or monogamous, or tolerate a less than amazing partner, or only date other people with herpes. Think about it this way: everyone brings their full self to a relationship or a sexual encounter. Some of us have anxiety, or difficult parents, or latex allergies, or can only orgasm with our eyes clenched shut, or are afraid of birds, or have this cool pattern of freckles in the shape of the New York City subway on our shoulder. You have herpes. It’s a part of your life, and that’s fine.

Here’s what having herpes does mean for your sex life: you need to tell your partner that you have herpes before you fuck them. How you have that conversation is up to you. You can put it all out there on your dating profile if that’s your style. You can make a joke about it over drinks at the bar—I like to drop that I’m Internet famous for having genital herpes and see how they react. You can wait until you’ve been on a few dates and then say you have something to discuss with them before you take your relationship to the next level. You can ask them when they were last tested and then say you test positive for herpes and negative for everything else. There are many, many ways to tell someone that you have an STI, and you will find what works best for you based on your personality.

I’ve shared some best practices for telling someone you have herpes here. But to be brief: don’t apologize, because you have nothing to apologize for. Don’t tolerate anyone who is a dick about it. Be prepared to offer information about the virus, but don’t feel the need to justify why they should date you anyway—if they can’t figure out how awesome you are on their own, you shouldn’t have to explain it to them. This is my response to people who ask me, “Why should I date someone with herpes?”

And the more friends you tell outside of a relationship context, the easier it’ll be to say “I have herpes” to someone whose reaction really matters to you.

Once you’ve secured someone to bone, chat with them about what precautions you want to take together to prevent transmission. I recommend investing in some good lubricant, as friction can sometimes trigger outbreaks. Lube also makes pretty much all sex a million times better. Condoms are great, and dental dams are useful for oral sex. Again, taking anti-virals can provide wonderful peace of mind and dramatically slashes the risk of transmission, but they can be expensive depending on your insurance and the jury is still out on how necessary they really are.

Having sex for the first time after getting diagnosed can be weird and emotional (for you, but probably not for them). I wrote about my first time having sex post-diagnosis here. It felt a bit like I was losing my virginity again. Some people find it an unexceptional experience, so everyone’s first time is different.

And finally, you can still have the kind of sex life you want. I’m non-monogamous, queer, and don’t always use condoms if my partner and I have discussed it in advance. That doesn’t mean I’m irresponsible or immoral or a walking health risk. I am an adult having consensual sex with partners who really want to fuck me. It’s as simple as that. Do you, and don’t apologize for a damn thing.


I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s up to you how herpes impacts your life. You get to choose how much having an STI like herpes will define you, if it will at all. Herpes might bring you wonderful perspective and help you find caring, respectful relationship partners, or it might impact your daily life less than spring allergies. We have power over the story we tell about who we are, to the world and to ourselves. You are the strong, brilliant soul who will decide what happens next. And I have faith in you, even if I haven’t met you yet.

In 2020 I self-published my micro-memoir, LIFE RUINER, about my experience getting diagnosed with herpes. You can read it exclusively on my Patreon, along with other essays about intimacy, mental health and relationships.

Read a free excerpt here.

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Ella Dawson is a sex and culture critic and a digital strategist. She drinks too much Diet Coke.

63 thoughts on “So You’ve Just Been Diagnosed With Herpes

  1. Hi Ella,

    Thank you so much for creating your content. I was first diagnosed with HSV in May 2021 after the worst outbreak ever, i thought I had Covid-19, it was unbearable. Then the symptoms kept getting worse with the pain on my vulva, i could barely walk. It was excruciating. Ive heard the first is the worst. I had just gotten out of an unhealthy relationship so it was a shock that i was diagnosed a few months later. I had so much pain both physically and emotionally. So i have related to parts of your story too. I started trying to find everything and anything on HSV, i immediately found your TedTalk and your site. I have read and reread so many of your articles. I am so thankful that you have written your raw inner feelings and experience to help others. I definitely feel less alone and hopeful. Im still processing it and trying to navigate a new relationship but so far he has accepted me as I am. Anyways, just wanted to reach out now that I’m in a better place to say thank you, your content is such a good resource for people. Thank you! thank you! Take care!

  2. “Research shows that individuals with HSV-2 are “shedding” on 10% of days [that they don’t have symptoms], which sounds scary as fuck …”

    Ella, while I completely agree with you that shaming those with a STI is wrong, the fact that those with HSV-2 are asymptomatic shedding 10% of the time IS “scary as fuck.” When I did my research, it was that statistic that led to my decision not to have sex with a HSV-2 positive guy.

    P.S. Also, I’m a woman, and with hetero vaginal intercourse a woman has about a 300% greater chance of getting a STI from a guy with one than the reverse.

  3. Ella, you’re amazing.. forget Hsv.. I want to sit around and read you talking about everything .. I want to know what you watched on Netflix this week, why it moved you, how it sucked, and the like. Did you say Badass was the highest form of compliment? Well. You’re beyond. Grateful for you existing on this planet. Fresh, hilarious, and a bit mischevious.. man, I love finding someone that makes me want to REALLY LIVE because they’re not afraid of who they are.

  4. This is refreshing after I read an article that said people with herpes “should refrain from all forms of sex all the time”. That’s an unrealistic expectation.
    I’ve had this for 30 years now and never passed it to anyone. I get a sore 3-4x a year. Every partner I’ve told has been fine with it and trusted me to be preventative. For the first time, someone ended our blossoming relationship when I informed him. I’d always feared this reaction and finally experienced it. Things were going well, we really connected. But he said it just wasn’t worth the risk to his health. There’s the possibility of someone walking away when they learn this news and that’s what makes it scary to inform people. The person who passed it to me didn’t tell me. I suspect a lot of people keep secret from partners. But remember: anyone who is honest enough to share it has a lot of integrity. You can trust that person to be honest about the hard-to-share sh*t.

  5. Ella, I love your tip about finding a community and support system that will help you and relate to what you are going through. My cousin recently was diagnosed with herpes and asked me to help her find medicines and different ways to help deal with it. We will keep these tips in mind in addition to finding a professional and natural herpes medicine for her.

  6. Ella! I just watched your Ted Talk and I loved it. I just got diagnosed earlier this year right after a break up and it was devastating to me. I literally shaved my head and stopped going to work for a minute, because I thought my sex life was over and that no one would want me anymore. Im still not fully comfortable in my own skin yet, but just knowing that there is someone else out there that understands and is making a change in the way people view STD’s is inspiring. I live in Utah and there have been so many times where I have had the chance to say something to someone because they have made a joke about herpes, but I just didn’t have the balls to do it. Thank you for sharing your story and I know you hate it when people say “Brave,” but speaking with someone with Herpes.. it helps me to be brave and not care about what people think and break that social media stigma that you talk about. It needs to come crashing down and its because of people like you that are really making that happen. Seriously, Thank you!

  7. Ella, thank you so much. Your blog is helping me cope with my diagnosis.

    Last year, I got my very first cold sore following the loss of my grandma. My doctor gave me a prescription for Valtrex and said I probably have HSV-1 but didn’t run any tests to confirm. I didn’t really question the decision not to test because I trusted my doctor’s judgement and had never shown signs of having it elsewhere. Just before my annual physical last week, I got another cold sore. The prescription I’d been given expired, so I contacted my doctor’s office for a renewal and they decided to order labs for HSV-1 and HSV-2, which both came back positive.

    This news was really shocking and immediately planted seeds of fear in my brain. I have so many questions that I will likely never get answers to like, how long have I had this? How many people have I exposed? Who exposed me and did/do they know? Did I contract HSV 1&2 from different people? Since I don’t recall having a genital outbreak, is it possible that I haven’t had one? Is it possible that I have but it was asymptomatic in nature? If not now, when?

    I’m really grateful to have a partner who is informed and supportive. When I told him, he reiterated how much he loves me and said that it doesn’t change anything for him. While my partner isn’t afraid of my body and accepts the risks, I’m afraid of transmitting it. I got an IUD last month (before my HSV1-2 diagnosis) so we could remove barriers and not worry about pregnancy. We’ve been having unprotected sex since I got the IUD, which has been amazing for us both up until this news. My partner doesn’t want to add condoms or dams back into our routine because of the intimacy unprotected sex has created in our relationship and while I completely echo his feelings, I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that I might transmit this to him (if he doesn’t already have it, we don’t know because he’s never shown signs and hasn’t been tested for it like so many others).

    As arrogant as this probably sounds, I’ve always been comfortable and confident in my skin. It didn’t take me long to find this same equilibrium with sexual expression when I became active at 19. I’ll be 25 in November and don’t want to let my herpes status define me or take away my agency but it feels almost impossible right now.

  8. Hi Ella. This herpes has been really horrible for me. I am 36 years old and married to a man whom I deeply love 10 years ago. Two months ago I went to a party with former university classmates, whom I considered close friends. The glasses passed me during the night and there are three hours of the night that were erased from my memory. Ten days after that, a herpes appeared in my mouth and came along with pain in my entire body and pain in my vagina and anus, as well as anal bleeding. The world disarmed me and I went to three gynecologists who told me that I didn’t have genital herpes, because I didn’t have outbreaks. Then, about two weeks ago, a toja spot and a small blister appeared in the groin, which broke and a scab came out. I went to a dermatologist who told me that it was herpes and that I had to go again when it came out to do the exams. I have cried to the seas, I have suffered so much, especially because I had never voluntarily been unfaithful to my husband. I feel that my life is over, he knows everything that is happening to me and has supported me a lot. I have not had sex with him since I started with suspicions of something happening to me. I don’t know what to do, I’m desperate.

    Honestly, i can't express how much i want to thank you for this.
    I am nineteen and I do not intend to live a monogamous sex life. I didn't do until now and when I got diagnosed today, my first thought was "now I am paying the price for it". But you helped so much with this few words, I will be thankful forever. Keep up your good work, Ella ❤

    1. I get it, i’m 18 and made a bad mistake and slept with one of my exes. Now i’m terrified nobody will ever want to be with me again.

  10. Hello all, first of all what a huge mental relief I’ve gotten thanks to this website and the TED talk. I’m a 21 year old female who was diagnosed with genital HSV-1 about a year ago. This being my very first STD, I was scared, upset, ashamed, etc and felt so angry that I had gotten something incurable compared to friends that simply were able to take antibiotics and go about life like nothing had ever happened. For my one year anniversary I got an outbreak. It’s really set me back and left me feeling hopeless. I’ve never felt as low as I have been over the past couple of days while having this outbreak, I thought about suicide which is a thought that has only ever entered my mind maybe one other time in my life.
    Anyways, after reading this I feel SO much better. I have had a couple of outbreaks since this whole thing started about a year ago and this time I found I couldn’t get over the mental affects of HSV more than anything else. The social stigma is no doubt the worst thing about HSV. I had chicken pox as a child and recently thought how differently that virus is viewed although it is so similar to HSV, the main difference being it is socially acceptable. Anyways, I am so thankful for coming across this resource and will recommend it to everyone I know. I hope that less people will have to deal with the HSV stigma effects that I did and that in the near future STD conversations can be 100% honest, unapologetic, and unashamed.
    Thank you Ella for helping me feel like no less of a woman than I was before this diagnosis and fighting to break the cycle of bullshit to put it bluntly. And best wishes to all people in the situation, I promise things will be ok and you are still a beautiful individual.

  11. I just found out I Herpes 2 I am be muons panicked. I am losing my family and don’t know what to do I need help coping.

  12. Thank you for all the information you’ve given, a long with your story. I am thankful to live in a world with internet, so I now know I am not the only one that feels so similar. I too.. have been so ashamed of my diagnoses for over a year now. My first boyfriend ever gave it to me. Being so young and so innocent at the time, I felt that this was some sort of punishment. I’m still struggling with getting these negative thoughts to get out of my mind, because it will only make this journey worse. EVERYONE in this world has a struggle they deal with, wether that be anxiety, eating disorder, depression… and well… herpes is another struggle, that us as humans need to learn to live with. I have gone months without ever thinking about this, then there will be a time where it is all I think about. I recently got into a relationship with a guy that truly cares for me, and supports me 100%. It was difficult telling him about my std, probably one of the most difficult things I have ever done.. but I truly truly cared about him, and wanted him to know.. just like I wish my ex boyfriend would have done. I’m not gonna sit here and say “Don’t worry about your dating life..blah blah blah”, because that is not the case… i still worry like hell too. I am saying the right guy worth keeping around will care more about your feelings and health than he will about some std that comes around here and there. Life can still go on… and will get easier in time. I was so depressed for the longest time and after reading posts that i can relate with, like this one has truly helped me.

  13. Hi Ella , Great article ,
    Since west itself is so looking down on this issue, what about countries such as India where arranged marriages are major, if the people know this is the case then one may live forever as an outcast, is it better not to say and take care of prevention to partner later getting married to one ? being open about it as a really closed society this may really really screw personal as well as professional life of the victim, and many people spread this news and take pleasure in putting down some one.

  14. Thank you!!!! Great realistic down to earth real talk. I was diagnosed with a nasty full on outbreak two days ago. To add insult to “injury” I had a fungal infection with it. I was floored since I’m in a, I think, monogamous relationship for 15 years. I think I had the prewarning signs of outbreak a few times, tingling, itchy, ache in the thighs but no real breakout. I guess I could have gotten it prior to this relationship, I was pretty active, I had a full battery of tests run 13 years ago but everything was negative- the Doc I saw said those tests generally are for other STIs unless you specifically ask for the Herpes test. I haven’t told my partner we aren’t sexually active for other reasons but don’t know how that will go over. I almost want the test I had to have that I was negative after being with him not for blame, but so I don’t get blame. I realize I need to do more research I think I’ve had this for a good 10 years though without a breakout. I am glad/hopeful it won’t be this bad ever again. I was so floored but being a gay man seeing a dermatologist for the first time she grabbed my hands and said “this will be ok, you won’t die, get sick, and you can manage this. If you were going to catch something this isn’t the worst, do some research, come back in two weeks for a check up, and see how you are feeling”. Thank you for your story. It made me feel better

  15. Thank you so much.
    I’m 30, married, and was sight diagnosed with an initial outbreak (I’ve been in crying pain for three days now). I was given the medication and awaiting the test results, which the doctor was pretty certain and straight forward about the situation.

    Googled the symptoms.. and yeah.. she is prooooobably (and by probably I’m saying 99.999999%) correct.

    Knowing we’re both faithful, this has been a very difficult day.

    I’ve reread your article, 4, maybe 5 times now.

    I’ll get it through my head soon enough.

  16. I was recently kicked off “Positive Singles”…which apparently is a conglomerate that owns most of the H-dating sites. Why? Because they “noticed” four years ago, yes FOUR FUCKING YEARS AGO I had filed a grievance with my credit card company due to them continuing to bill me when I had requested termination of my paid account. Yep, I’ve been blacklisted by the biggest herpes “dating support” group on the internet and they blacklisted me on all the other sites as well. How’s that for fucking support? Yes, they do prey upon vulnerable people and could give a rat’s ass who they hurt. I hope Karma gets them hard. I say it’s time for someone *with* herpes, who actually understands and cares about us, challenge them with a new site that’s actually about something more than a group of assholes trying to profit off of vulnerable, lonely , people .
    Ella…we need you!!

  17. Your story really reached out to my heart. I am currently a junior in college, just turned 21 and just this week got diagnosed with herpes. I got it from receiving oral sex from a guy I actually really like and wanted to take it sexually slow with… unfortunately he had a cold sore on his mouth which in turn gave me HSV1 on my genitals. Without your articles I would have been so much more lost. I am a strong woman, and feminist, but this diagnosis can be hard for anyone. You are a beautiful person and I wish the best for you. You are helping so many people it is astounding. I know now that this is something that is a part of me, but does not make me less of a person. If anything it makes me stronger.

  18. Hello, been battling back and for this whole month if I have herpes or not. Maybe this info will also reach your eyes and be helpful. Got tested 3 Times …2 blood test 3weeks apart from each other and the 1 culture swab test. Both blood test came out negative and the swab tested positive. The swab test was done in between both blood test.

    Also, what you see on the internet is a lot of type 2. I have type 1 and my outbreaks do not come in clusters like you see on the net. Mine look like little dots spread out and not clustered. Didn’t get the whole “you’ll feel a tingle” but the 2nd time I had my outbreak I totally felt the tingle but ignored it in hopes it was “something else.” The first time I had my outbreak I felt like I shaved and nicked myself. My 2nd out break was do to a lack of sleep.

    Still struggling that is this is reality now and my new normal. If you pray please pray for me and my journey. Please pray for healing. Don’t wanna give up on the power of prayer.

    Thank you Ella for this article. Twin sister shared it with me. Hope I’m brave enough to be like you.

  19. I am currently waiting for my test results to come back to see if I have herpes. I have been sexually active without condoms. I am nervous and I don’t even know if I will be able to answer the phone with they call with the results. I am 21 years old and about to graduate from college this year. If the test comes back positive I will be so ashamed. I already felt ashamed at the doctors office when she came in and told me that Herpes was very common and it’s okay if I have it. In that moment I felt so judged even though she was trying to calm me down. I am worried I have it. I am worried about dating and ever getting married. There is such a stigma about herpes and I hope that it will soon go away.

  20. I am currently waiting for my test results to come back to see if I have herpes. I have been sexually active without condoms. I am nervous and I don’t even know if I will be able to answer the phone with they call with the results. I am 21 years old and about to graduate from college this year. If the test comes back positive I will be so ashamed. I already felt ashamed at the doctors office when she came in and told me that Herpes was very common and it’s okay if I have it. In that moment I felt so judged even though she was trying to calm me down. I am worried I have it. I am worried about dating and ever getting married. There is such a stigma about herpes and I hope that it will soon go away.

  21. If you have HSV it’s not the end of the world!!! Do you know of any support groups that address poly relationships specifically?

    1. I’m a 17yo boy and doing bloodtests done tomorrow, pretty sure they will be positive. Today I’ve been reading a lot since doc said it looks like herpes and I got freaked out despite being a really tough guy, even a few tears rolled. Never had sex before so not sure how or where I got it but its spreading all over my body. Thanks for this post, I feel a lot more calm and I think I will handle it better if the tests confirm that it’s herpes. I do have a question, on a scale of 1-10 if the first outbreak is a 10, how bad will those yet to come be? Once again really great post, thanks so much!!❤

  22. I am a 32yo male who has been going through outbreaks for the last 7 years, but instead of going to get tested (out of fear of the truth), I lived with it and pretty much self diagnosed myself via WebMD images and symptom lists. I was ashamed that I let it happen, getting the most joked about STI (herpes) in the world, and I hid from the truth like it was helping. I attempted years of home remedies from healing creams, drying ointments, different soaps, boosting my immune system with OTC multi vitamins and extracts. I knew exactly when the outbreaks were coming. I felt the skin around the area get sensitive to touch and then my anxiety would skyrocket. I also noticed it occurred more frequently when my stress levels were elevated. I just kept dealing with it and hating myself. Finding it hard to talk to anyone about it. Well I’m here now because I have met a woman who, I really want to be with. So I went and had a blood test done. Although I am currently going through an outbreak I did not have a sample or cculture taken. I’m waiting for results but I know the answer. We have not had sexual contact yet, so I have not told her, but tomorrow is the day I need to tell her. I’ve been stressing so much that I caused another outbreak. Ive been deathly scared of her reaction and the possibility of ending what I have hoped to be the last relationship I’d ever want/need. Thanks to this post, even from a woman’s point of view and experience, it helped calm me down, make me see different points that I can point to when she has questions or concerns.
    I see there is a bigger world to this than I had originally thought and I’m glad I stumbled here.
    Thank you for all the information and time spent on this page. I really wish there was more acceptance in the world for a virus so common. Stigmas suck!

  23. I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found your TED talk and this page. While my test isn’t back yet, I’m pretty sure its going to be positive(or in a strange way glad it will be positive, as I will finally have an answer to what is going on down there, and only now do I know its not a big deal)

    I’ve been beyond stressed about what is going on down south, and haven’t been able to function due to stressing over the test results. I finally gave in and decided to search for more info rather than refusing to and just assuming and thinking the worst. I feel as if the weight has been lifted with all this new information and hearing something positive(see what I did there?) rather than the stigma we all first assumed. I don’t even know for sure yet if I have it, and I already feel 1000% times better than I did before.

    Thank you for everything you have done, it has definitely helped me.

    1. Or eat a lot of natural yogurt and dairy products in general and avoiding foods high in arginine. I’m not joking. I had hardly any outbreaks for a few years and then suddenly had one when I was feeling perfectly well. I tried to figure out why. I can’t say for sure, but it looked like it was down to a sudden change in diet. I started eating lots of peanut butter (extremely high in arginine), pickled fish (the acid is not good), bread (arginine) etc. It was like eating a cold sore bodybuilding diet. I discovered this the day after the cold sore raised its ugly head. I switched to yogurt, milk, etc. and dropped the high arginine foods. The cold-sore was completely gone in about five days – I don’t use antivirals (for no particular good reason). All others have taken at least two weeks. So now, I avoid high arginine foods. I can’t say for sure that this is the reason, or that it will help everyone, but it might be something worth experimenting with, as, no doubt, we all have our own triggers.

  24. I have just been diagnosed with HSV-1. I felt like my life was over. I am a 23-year-old nursing student who this year decided to explore my sexuality. I felt angry, upset, disappointed, and like I was unworthy and dirty. I came across your TED TALKS video and then read this blog. It has helped me tremendously. You’re the silver lining that I needed. Tomorrow I will be going to the doctor to see how I will treat it, but I will not let this ruin my life. Thank you.

  25. Hi Ella,
    Do you take antivirals everyday to reduce transmission? I also like you also have genital HSV1. Have you given HsV to any of your partners who dont have it because if so I think i should take antivirals to reduce transmission risk,

  26. Going on seven months of being diagnosed, and I wish I would have found your blog seven months ago! Working through the self-doubt was and is really tough, but I have managed to have a couple of new partners after opening myself up to them. It is scary being so vulnerable with someone new. I can’t say that it was easy, but it added a new sense of comfort to the sex that I have had. Thanks for sharing your story Ella! Maybe one day we’ll all be shouting our status.

  27. Hi Ella! I got diagnosed yesterday and read your article right after returning from the doctor. I cried so much because of the sad news that it’ll stay forever etc. but also because I felt so supported and understood by you!!!!! Thank you so much for that ❤

    By the way: Just read one of your erotica (the one with the bruises and Devon) and it turned me on and made me cry at the same time because I was so touched by the way their sex date went about. The fact that they used condoms and also that Devon asked Cora before, if she wants sex was so great and it also reminded me of how fucked up some sex encouters I have had in the past were.

    1. Oh my god, I forgot all about that story. What a blast from the past. I wrote it a few months before I contracted herpes and was so thrilled to see it published a few years later. It’s one of my favorites 🙂 I’m so glad it moved you, and that my blog has been helpful while you’re going through this time in your life. Stay strong ❤ You are loved.

  28. Excellent advice Ella, your experience has been of great help to me. I’m currently going through the process of treating it while adapting to it, and facing how the experience of talking to my boyfriend about it feels like; glad for his love and still worried about our relationship. Though, he’s an amazing guy, who’s adopted a mature and supportive reaction towards my diagnosis. I love him more now and if he’d later decides to stop seeing me again I’d never judge him and understand as well. I’d rather be realistic and giving him some time to think it through. I’ll leave it on him…
    Thank you so much from New York

  29. I’m waiting for my test results as the clinical diagnoses was iffy. I’ve been berating myself internally about this. I’m a father. I have an incredible career. I made a few poor choices. I am in the middle of a relationship. Most of all, I’m scared.

    But, God, I needed this. I needed you. I feel like we would be best friends. You’re straight to the point. You use “fuck” like a comma. I needed this. Thank you. My mind may not be at peace but this was the hope that I needed. The veil of the stigma has been lifted. Even if the test comes back negative, I’ll never look at this the same way again. Thank you!

    1. I agree. This website has been an absolute life changer for me. I know it’s been awhile since you posted but I hope everything is going well.

  30. I just got diagnosed and I am having a melt down. It was transmitted via my current partner that was unaware he had it. We have been together for a year now and I am trying not to blame him or be upset but it’s inevitable. Will having unprotected sex with him risk me having an outbreak? I haven’t had any outbreaks.

    1. I’m also having this issue, if your partner has the same infection as you do will it make the outbreaks worse?

      1. Nope! If you both have the same strain of herpes, you can’t give it to each other again or trigger outbreaks in each other. That being said, super vigorous sex (friction!) can trigger an outbreak, so…. use lube!

  31. I just got diagnosed today and this was something I really needed to read. I’ve been telling a lot of my family and friends because I know that I need the support. Thank you for being outspoken and for trying to help destigmatize this. As a future nurse, I am eternally grateful for people like you. More than you will ever know.

  32. You are my favourite google find yet. It has been a fucking horrible four days, but I shall be forever thankful to your writing.

  33. i wish we lived in a world without shame. you are an incredible human ella. truly. i wish i was inspired enough though to live as honestly with genital hsv 1 as you do. i’ll be 50 this year, i got herpes 10 years ago, worst birthday present ever and terrible way to enter a new decade, from a guy who did not disclose. and like you, we used a condom. and like you said, who uses protection during oral sex? i have had just a couple of relationships since then. i don’t date at all now, except for one guy who drank too much and got cut off at the bar. this is the excuse i use for not dating when people ask. shame. there are other parts of my life that i give my attention to instead. but i will always long to share my life, not matter what i try and make myself believe. but you. you are as it should be. and i am thrilled to follow your experience.

  34. I cannot believe how little “accurate” information is available on HSV1 on the genitals. Even doctors are not well informed when providing you with the facts. I have some questions for you that I didn’t know if you knew the answers to, but here they are Elle…..

    I was newly diagnosed with HSV-1 on my genitals which I got from my boyfriend who also has HSV1 on his genitals and we do not have protected sex, since we share the same virus that I “caught” from him as a result of him receiving oral sex from someone else….

    1. Can I get HSV1 on my lips from giving him oral sex even though I am already a carrier of HSV1 on my genitals?
    2. Should we both be taking daily antivirals for HSV1 on the genitals? (Antivirals stop HSV from shedding, prevent outbreaks, shorten outbreaks, speed healing, and reduces transmission)
    3. Or should we watch and wait to see how our body reacts to the new virus since we are in a monogamous relationship, yet both have HSV-1 on the genitals and are recently diagnosed meaning it is both of our first year living with this virus?
    4. Do you recommend herbal supplements instead?
    5. Will it always appear in the same location or can it migrate to another location within the genital region?
    6. Can I use a bar of soap to clean myself or will that infect other areas?
    7. I can’t stop thinking about this morning, noon, and night…Can you give me some statistics on the HSV1 that might make me calm down, since I am always anticipating the next outbreak

  35. Your articles are greatly inspirational and help many people I’m sure. For that I am happy. However, the success you’ve had in dealing with this and a sex life beyond your diagnosis has not been my experience. I have now been in a two year forced celibacy due to my genital HSV-1 given to me by my ex wife who to this day only has “cold sores”. She is free do do whatever she likes and I have been caged inside my own body. To say that it’s maddening is an understatement. I wake up in sheer terror every morning realizing that I am still me.

    1. i don’t understand. your wife won’t have sex with you now that she’s given you genital herpes? she seeks sex elsewhere? i do understand how you feel though. i’ve cut myself off too.

  36. Someone just turned me onto your articles in Women’s Health. I run a H Support Group and there are many Support & Social Groups around. I am not sure if you are aware and would love to speak with you if you want more information on how to get involved.
    I love the way you write and plan on using your articles in my Support, as well as giving my members the link to your blog. I think you are doing great work. Please reach out to me if you are interested in finding out more about the H Community.

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