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Jenelle Marie Davis, 34, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, will gladly explain why having herpes isn’t the end of the world. It took years for Davis, founder of The STD Project, which encourages awareness and acceptance of various sexually transmitted diseases, and spokesperson for Positive Singles, a dating site for people with STDs, to come to terms with the diagnosis she got at age 16.“My mom says the entire way home from my appointment, I cried and said no one would ever love me, no one would ever want me, and I’d never get married,” Davis tells SELF.
When she was diagnosed with herpes almost three years ago, Whitney Carlson, 29, a social media editor in Chicago, had a similar reaction.
Although telling someone you’re interested in can be intimidating, there are different ways to do it, and you might find one easier than the others.
In the past, Carlson would put the herpes conversation on the table quickly.
Around two-thirds of people worldwide under age 50 have herpes simplex 1, according to the World Health Organization, and around one in every six Americans between ages 14 and 49 has genital herpes, usually caused by herpes simplex 2, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Both Davis and Carlson eventually moved past their initial panic and saw herpes for what it is: an infection many people have that happens to usually get passed through sexual contact.
In fact, HSV-1 is now the leading cause of new genital herpes infections.
HSV-1 can be passed to another via genital, anal or oral sex, just like HSV-2.– Yes, you will have to take the same precautions against spreading HSV-1 just as you would with HSV-2.
Although they tell potential partners at different points in the relationship, Carlson and Davis’ actual disclosure process is pretty similar.On sites like Positive Singles and HMates, users are expected to be open about their diagnoses, but because they know everyone else there has an STD, too, it removes a huge barrier—and the question of whether the information will send a potential partner packing.“It’s a great way to see you’re still the same interesting, sexy, desirable person,” Davis says.“It helps rebuild the confidence that gets hammered down when you get that diagnosis.” (She is a spokesperson for Positive Singles, but she’s never used any STD-specific dating site.)Carlson, who got back into dating via this kind of site after her diagnosis, agrees.If someone already has HSV-1 in their mouth, could sex with me cause them to have a genital outbreak?
Although I’ve never had a cold sore, could I pass the HSV-1 to someone by kissing them? If they give me oral sex, will they get oral HSV-1?“I don’t like wasting my time or getting my heart broken, so I think it’s a self-defense thing to almost always tell the guy on the first date,” she explains.