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What 5 People Living with Genital Herpes Want You to Know

‘I don’t “sleep around”, and even if I do, f*ck the insinuation’.

Despite it being 2019 and all, many people are still really misinformed about the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). This ignorance does nothing but feeds into the stigma that many people with herpes find absolutely exhausting and terrifying. We spoke to five women who shared what they wish people knew about living with genital herpes.

1 I’m not concerned about my sex life

‘And this is certainly not because there isn’t a stigma. There is. But I know that the only people I want to have sex with are the ones who accept me as I am and have educated themselves on what herpes really is. They’ve taken it upon themselves to debunk the myths surrounding it, and they know how common it truly is. Of course, I’ve told people before having sex with them and had them respond badly, but I’ve learned to deal and consider it a way to rid myself of partners who don’t actually deserve me.’ *Sasha, 29

2 Assume someone at the table you’re at has it

‘I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat at a table with some of my best friends (who I haven’t told) and have had to listen to them make jokes about how herpes is like, the worst thing ever. Like a death sentence for a healthy sex life. These are the people I’m closest with in the world, but the dialogue we’ve gotten used to around the subject is so sour that I don’t feel safe telling them this. Be careful of what you say. You could be feeding into these feelings of anxiousness without even knowing it.’ *Z, 25

3 I don’t ‘sleep around’, and even if I do, f*ck the insinuation

‘It’s insane that I feel the need to justify it in some way, but I actually contracted genital herpes from my first sexual partner ever. The first flare-up is incredibly painful and the entire thing was so traumatic. I felt really unlucky that what was supposed to be something amazing turned into what it did. I’m not with that partner anymore (the break up was unrelated to herpes), and my current boyfriend is phenomenal. It’s not something we really think about too much now unless I’m having a flare-up. You learn how to make it work and then it’s not as scary as it was in the beginning.’ *Katlego, 28

4 Many, many people with herpes don’t even know they have it

‘Lots of people do not show any symptoms. Chat to your doctors if it’s something you’re concerned about and get a full STD and STI screening. Many people don’t realise that certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) are more dangerous than herpes because they can lead to cervical cancer.’ *Amy, 23

5 You won’t catch herpes from a toilet seat

‘My roommate who is a really smart woman asked me a few weeks ago if she should be concerned about catching herpes while I was having a flare. I could tell she was so nervous to ask me that because she didn’t want to offend me. Truthfully, I was really taken aback – but only because I didn’t realise that that was a concern people have. For the record, it is SUPER unlikely that you contract the virus in this way as it spreads via skin-to-skin contact.’

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