- What If
A Partner Has Herpes
In a new
relationship there is always risk.
Usually this risk is emotional. When a
partner has herpes, there is additional
risk that you could get it, too. You may
have concerns about risking infection for
a relationship that may not last. You'll
want to understand how to lower the risk
for infection and ways to talk with your
partner. Remember, if you have been
sexually active you may already have been
at risk for herpes. You may have it and
not know it. Because herpes can be spread
without symptoms it can be hard to know
when a person became infected and who
infected them. In fact, if you and your
partner have had sex, it's possible your
partner got herpes from you.
tested and know the medical treatments
available for your partner.
intimate, sexual relationship with a
person who has herpes, the risk of
contracting the infection will never be
zero. Some couples have sexual
relationships for years without
transmitting herpes just by avoiding
sexual contact during outbreaks, using
condoms regularly and using suppressive
antiviral therapy to reduce outbreaks.
Couples deal successfully with herpes all
the time. For many, it is a minor
inconvenience. Since herpes does not pose
a serious health risk, some couples
choose not to use condoms in a long-term
relationship. If you're not sure about
the relationship or you're uncomfortable
with the risk, consider delaying intimacy
for a while. Get to know your partner
better and give yourself time. Remember,
all relationships face challenges, most
far tougher than herpes. Good
relationships stand or fall on far more
communication, respect and trust.
and Emotional Impact of Herpes
For most people,
the social and emotional impact of herpes
is greater than the physical distress. At
least in the beginning. Society tends to
have a judgmental attitude about sexually
transmitted diseases. Many people feel
embarrassed or isolated after they are
diagnosed. With time, accurate
information and support, most people put
herpes in perspective. A diagnosis of
herpes can challenge our personal view of
sexuality and health. Many people can be
uncomfortable talking about it. Once you
or a partner knows more, know the facts,
you may find your views changing.
- Why Tell
Some people don't tell, or
don't tell every partner. Some don't tell
until after they've had sex. It's
important that herpes does not become a
secret--for many reasons.
and your partner know the facts, you may
find your views changing.
your partner allows this person
to make an informed choice. When
you tell, you are showing respect
and concern for his or her well
being. Your honesty may build
intimacy and trust.
your partner helps prevent
transmitting herpes. If you keep
herpes a secret, you might invent
lies and half-truths to postpone
sex during outbreaks. And, you
give your partner a shared stake
in making decisions together
about how to reduce risk.
your partner can begin an
important discussion about sexual
health. Herpes is one of over 20
sexually transmitted infections.
Others have more serious health
consequences. Your honesty
encourages your partner to share
sexual history and health
information with you.
your partner can prevent future
misunderstandings or threat of
- How to
Tell A Partner
Know the Facts
First, have you
come to terms yourself with having
herpes? If you haven't, then it's
unrealistic to expect another person to
understand. How well informed are you? Do
you know the basic steps to reduce the
risk to your partner? Do you know the
facts about herpes? You want to feel
confident and knowledgeable before you
can explain the infection to someone else.
prepared by reading the ASHA-published
and award-winning book, Managing
Herpes, subscribe to the quarterly
newsletter, the helper, or order
the Herpes Facts Pack, that includes the
newsletter and book plus the booklet, Understanding
educational materials on-hand for your
partner to read. Be prepared to answer
questions. If you don't know the answer
to a question, find out. Contact the
National Herpes Hotline at (919) 361-8488,
your local health department, your doctor
or your local HELP Group for support.
- When to
Tell A Partner
This can be a
sensitive topic and knowing when to raise
it is important. It's best to let the
friendship develop first, but it's best
not to wait until after you've become
sexually intimate. Then, the issue can
become tangled in feelings of anger and
mistrust. Remember, telling a partner
about herpes is only a small part of
relationship building. This disclosure
can enhance your honesty and openness,
and demonstrate your ability to have and
maintain an intimate relationship.
role-playing with a trusted
friend or relative. Practice
saying the words out loud.
a neutral setting during a time
when you won't be distracted or
interrupted. Be natural.
with confidence. You are not
lecturing or confessing. You're
sharing personal information.
calm. If you are upset, a partner
might think it's worse than it is.
Remember your delivery and body
language becomes your message,
your partner to be accepting and
supportive. You're doing the best
thing for both of you. People
tend to behave as you expect them
Simple Message: How to Start and What to
can be clumsy and awkward. Choose your
own words and your own way of telling a
partner. You'll find the way that's most
comfortable for you.
want to talk with you about
something that's important to me.
Have you ever had a cold sore or
fever blister? A type of virus
causes cold sores and fever
blisters. I have this virus.
Only, instead of getting the
sores near my mouth, I get them
in my genital area."
really feel I can trust you and I
want to tell you something very
personal. Last year, I found out
I have genital herpes. It's not
as serious as it sounds. Can I
tell you about it?"
really like you and enjoy being
with you, and I want to get
closer to you. Let's talk about
- How Will
A Partner React
overreact. Some won't bat an eye. Since
many people have genital herpes or have
heard about it, many people won't be
shocked or surprised. Whatever happens,
try to be flexible. Give your partner
time to respond, think about what you've
said and absorb the information. Remember
when you first found out? It took you
time to adjust, too.
don't have to be overly concerned about
protecting a partner's feelings. And, you
may want to reconsider a relationship
where you have to do all the emotional
work. A safer sex discussion might help
you find out if this partner is a good
candidate for your love and attention.
people are going to react negatively. It
won't matter what you say or how you say
it. Remember, these people are the
exception not the rule. If a partner
decides not to pursue a relationship with
you because you have herpes, it is best
to know this now. There are many people
who will be attracted to you for who you
are--with or without herpes.
people react well. They appreciate your
approach, honesty and maturity in
addressing an important health issue.
Remember to put herpes into perspective:
it is an annoying, recurrent skin
condition that is treatable and
manageable--no more, no less.