Sexually transmitted diseases should, obviously, not be treated as no–big-deal. Many can have long-term implications for health, and we should, of course, take all the action we can to prevent the contraction of STDs or, if we have them, to prevent spreading them. STDs are serious, but I don’t like the way our culture pushes them into a dark corner as if those who suffer from them must be bad, irresponsible, and gross. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of contracting STDs. In fact, fifty percent of people under the age of 25 who are sexually active will contract an STD. Furthermore, an estimated two-thirds of individuals between the ages of 14 and 49 have herpes type 1. If we’re going to push these individuals into dark corners, well, the streets will actually be a pretty empty place. Herpes is highly contagious and incurable, two facts that have created a lot of fear and misinformation around the disease. Here are stigmas and falsities about herpes.
People with herpes are promiscuous
You only need to sleep with one infected person to contract herpes. Also, for the record, herpes type two is mostly contracted when a person with type one performs oral sex on an uninfected individual. So, someone with herpes doesn’t necessarily need to have a lot of intercourse to contract it.
If you have it, you didn’t use protection
You can still contract herpes, even if you use protection. Type 2 happens mostly through skin on skin contact, and condoms do not necessarily cover all affected skin.
You shouldn’t date someone with herpes
If you’re going to write off anyone with herpes, then your pool just got a lot smaller. So long as you have open and honest communication about the condition, breakouts, and the management of those, you can carry out a healthy relationship with an infected individual, and not contract herpes.
People with herpes are unclean
Herpes has nothing to do with cleanliness. All of the bathing, showering, hand sanitizer, and exfoliating in the world cannot stop a herpes infection if someone becomes intimate with an infected individual. Medications can stop transmission—but not cleanliness.
Women with herpes can’t have babies
Women with herpes can actually still have babies, through vaginal delivery, who come out uninfected. They should just monitor their symptoms with their doctor, and if there is threat of a breakout around the due date, a doctor will recommend a cesarean.
The infected don’t take it seriously
If you meet someone who doesn’t seem too torn up over having herpes, don’t be mistaken: they probably already went through their emotional healing around the issue. They don’t take it lightly—they’ve just already accepted it, and see no point in torturing themselves every day.
It’s something to be ashamed of
If it’s time for you to tell a new partner you have herpes, don’t feel ashamed. Feel proud that you made the right decision in being open about it, so you can protect your partner. And know that nothing about your character or cleanliness caused this.
Your sex life is over if you have herpes
Your sex life does not have to be over. It is possible for a person without herpes, to date someone with herpes, and remain uninfected. With the right management, your sex life doesn’t have to be over.
Partners don’t want to manage it
If you have herpes, you may be worried about telling new partners, for fear that they won’t have the patience to manage it with you. But that person will have a hard time finding a partner anyways because they want perfection—oh, and because a lot of people have herpes.
You can only date others with herpes
If you have herpes, you are not condemned to only dating others who have it. You are totally free to date the uninfected, so long as you are open about your condition. With the information they need, it’s then up to them if they want to continue the relationship.
You should never accept oral
If you’re in a relationship and you have herpes type 2, but are managing it by using condoms and never allowing a partner to go down on you, you may not have to go that far. With the proper management of symptoms, it can be safe for your partner to perform oral on you. Talk to your doctor about treatment options and how to monitor symptoms. Be honest with your partner about your status.
Only those with cold sores are a threat
If you think it’s safe to kiss anyone without a cold sore, that’s not necessarily true. Herpes type 1 doesn’t always manifest itself in cold sores. It can live and become exposed through small cuts around the mouth, too.
The house is infected with herpes
A person with herpes doesn’t live in an infected house. His toilet isn’t infected. His spoons aren’t infected.
You should have been tested sooner
Sometimes, those with herpes are criticized for having gone so long without knowing they were infected. But sometimes herpes doesn’t show symptoms for years, so the person saw no reason to be tested.
You want to infect others
If you’re dating someone who only tells you after several dates that he has herpes, he wasn’t trying to trick you. He probably just didn’t see the point in sharing this personal information, unless he saw this relationship going somewhere.