Dear Dr. Alex,
My man and I have been dating almost 2 months and we are madly in love. We had “the talk” and decided we wanted to be monogamous and stop using condoms. I got tested last week, got results today, and I tested positive for genital herpes! I am devastated! I have never had an outbreak, and my doc says I may never have one, but I am still mortified. I’m scared my boyfriend will flip out when I tell him. He’s super paranoid and already flipped out on me when I told him I’ve slept with 12 people in my life, because he’s only slept with 7 people. I’m so upset!! I’ve always been careful, have always used condoms with everyone, and I get tested once a year. I tested negative last year! What do I tell him? And if he breaks up with me, how and when do I tell the next guy I’m with? And do I need to tell all of my previous partners?
Spoiled Goods From A Store Near You
Dear NOT Spoiled Goods,
First of all, stop calling yourself that. You are NOT “spoiled goods”. And you are not alone. 1 out of 6 of American adults have genital herpes, and the rate is even higher among young people in major cities and college towns. Look around you at the coffee shop and know that almost half the people sharing your WIFI network have herpes. And the barista probably does too. And, there’s a chance that your self-righteous pain in the ass of a boyfriend is actually the one that gave you herpes. When’s the last time HE got tested?
One of them probably has it…But I love them just the same.
If you maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen and don’t freak out like a spaz, you may never have a herpes outbreak in your life. You don’t have to tell anyone that you’re not sleeping with that you tested positive for the herpes virus. It’s none of their business. The decision to tell former lovers that you tested positive for genital herpes is one you have to make for yourself. I do suggest that you definitely tell the people you’ve slept with in the last year, so that they may get tested and, if positive, take preventative measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.I’m sure your doctor has spoken to you about all the very effective treatments and preventative medications available.
Yes, you have to tell your partner, but please, DON’T FREAK OUT. I know many couples where one partner has herpes and the other has never contracted it. Some of these couples are on medication, and some are not. Some use condoms, and some do not. You, your partner and your doctor will have to decide what’s right for you. Your partner should get tested immediately. If he’s positive, he should inform his previous partners and ask if any of them have recently tested positive.
Protect yourself. Wear condoms!
The important thing is that neither of you shame nor blame the other and that you not be embarrassed about this. You are a sexually active human being. You engage in safe sex, you did everything you could to keep yourself safe, and you contracted one of the most common and least dangerous of STIs. If your boyfriend’s test turns out to be negative and/or he breaks up with you for this, then he’s not the kind of guy you want to be with; and he’s an ass, because there’s a very high chance that his next girlfriend will have herpes too.
I believe that you must tell all future partners that you tested positive for genital herpes before you sleep with them. But, you don’t need to tell them when you first meet them, you don’t need to tell them on a first date, or even after several dates. You don’t need to tell them until you are certain you are going to sleep with them. And, remember, there’s a chance they already have it too.
Regarding your boyfriend’s disdainful dickery about how many people you’ve slept with–NOBODY SHOULD EVER TELL ANYBODY THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE THEY’VE SLEPT WITH! In the future, never discuss your “number” with anyone and never ask anyone for theirs. That is an unnessecary piece of information that almost always leads to distrust and insecurity. It doesn’t matter whether someone has slept with one person, or one million. If they have had sexual contact with someone, they may have an STI. You don’t know until you get tested. I always reccommend both partners get tested for all STIs before engaging in vaginal or anal intercourse, even if you’re using condoms. They break sometimes.
There is detailed information about herpes, including symptoms, treatment options and support resources HERE. And please let me know if you need further information or support. And stop being so upset! You are a wonderful, beautiful and responsible angel, and your goods are still very, very tasty.