January 28, 2024
I haven’t written about genital herpes in a while, so I thought I’d share a bit this morning.
I’ve been on a daily anti-viral routine for over two years, now, since shortly after I received my diagnosis in September of 2021. I have been taking 500 mg of Valacyclovir daily. When I was first FINALLY diagnosed accurately, I was having a near continuous outbreak. If you’ve read A completely boring HERPES educational blog post that you should absolutely read anyway, you know I believed I had been battling chronic yeast for years (and years and years).
I take a number of prescription medications, and anytime I can eliminate one, I think that overall, that is a good strategy. I did some Googling, and I really can’t find anything concrete about the consequences of discontinuing daily anti-viral therapy, it seems it is completely individual. I’ve got enough Valacyclovir on hand to handle anything that comes up for months, so I’ve gone ahead and discontinued it for the time being. If I decide to become intimate, I can pick up my daily routine at any time.
So that’s the sort of kind of boring part.
Now, I have some good news about DISCLOSURE.
Like the vast majority of people, I was absolutely devastated when I got my diagnosis. I was so relieved to finally know what I was dealing with, so I could treat the actual condition instead of sticking Monistat up the V all the time… But like so many others, I thought my life was over. For sure no one would ever want to have sex with me ever again, of that I was convinced.
Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Furthermore, choosing to be transparent and public about my diagnosis has been one of the best and most rewarding decisions of my life. I’ve fully come to realize herpes doesn’t diminish who I am as a person in the slightest, it is simply a chronic nuisance skin condition. It does add a bit of complexity to my life, but really, it only adds the degree of complexity I choose.
NOT ONE PERSON has shamed me or made me feel in any way less because I have herpes.
Not even the men with whom I had been intimate previously when I told them of my diagnosis.
ONLY ONE MAN chose not to pursue an intimate relationship with me, and we are still friendly with one another. He works in a small business which I often frequent, and he is always warm, kind, and completely appropriate.
The only man I’ve been intimate with since my diagnosis thought he had herpes, too. I’d connected with him on a herpes subreddit. From what he said about his symptoms, I suspected from the start he did not have herpes. After seven months of badgering him to get tested, he finally did. Negative.
“Why didn’t I get it from you?” he asked.
“Why is it that you can stand next to someone with COVID and not get it?” I responded.
I believe there are two main reasons why I did not infect my partner.
First, the statistics are favorable. I found this article today:
"The likelihood of transmission seems to vary among studies, but many of the reports range between 3% and 10%. In one small study, the rate at which infected men transmitted herpes to women was 2.9 times per 100 unprotected sex acts.
But, in a different study, almost 10% of female partners acquired herpes from a male partner over the course of a year. In yet another large study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the risk of getting herpes from an infected partner was 3.6% over the course of 8 months. It’s unclear how many couples in this study used condoms."
I do remember something quite vividly, however. When the lab technician was drawing my blood for the herpes test, I was mumbling about how I’d had so many so many so many partners (I pretty much knew what the results would be, and I was feeling like a major loser slut).
“It only takes one,” she said.
And BOOM, that hit me spot on. Yes, the statistics are favorable, but the CDC does estimate there are 775,000 new infections a year. It only takes one.
Second, the things I was doing drastically reduced the chances of transmission. If you avoid intercourse during outbreaks, use condoms, and are on daily anti-virals, the chance of female to male transmission is about 1%. Yep, just 1%.
Condoms are your friend.
There’s no getting around it, so quit hoping and pretending. Living in denial is not a healthy, mature way to go on about the business of living your life.
Condoms are your friend.
A few weeks back, I had a lovely first date with a man I met online. It was a near perfect first date, as a matter of fact. It wasn’t a love connection, and I don’t anticipate it will be. But as is my habit, I focus on friendship first, and am seldom disappointed. Because I have fucking done the work (!!!) I’m healthier mentally than I’ve ever been, so I attract quality people. I also eliminate harmful people from my life much sooner than ever before. I’ve become rather uncompromising in relationships. In spite of my increasingly higher standards, I still find many many men who are interested in friendship, and furthermore, WHO WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH ME.
Back to that date.
I had given him a link to my blog before we met, so I knew if he was paying attention, he probably knew I had genital herpes. When I asked him, he said,
"Ya, I saw that. So do I."
About one in six adults has genital herpes. So think about that next time you’re walking down the street. Count the people you pass. One, two, three, four, five, THAT PERSON HAS GENITAL HERPES.
You may never fully come to terms with this diagnosis. It will always impact your life to some degree, but again, you have complete control over in what ways and to what degree. You have control over how you frame anything that happens to you in life. You may not think you do, but you do.