Recently, I started talking online with a new guy who made me feel all of the tingles and energy that signal the beginning of an exciting new relationship. I wasn’t prepared when he suddenly dropped a bomb on me: He had genital herpes. When we met offline, we became intimate very quickly, but we abstained from having intercourse. He told me I could take as much time as I needed to feel comfortable having sex with him. He had been infected as a teenager and was used to managing outbreaks and mixed reactions from partners, which explains why he was so patient with me. The fact that he'd been honest about this pretty major thing before we'd even met was a testament to how trustworthy he was, and maybe because of that, I continued to pursue him. A week went by, and we continued to abstain from sex, although we were seeing each other almost daily at this point. As a woman with a deep-seated fear of HIV and plenty of education on the subject, I realized that I hadn’t spent much time studying the ramifications of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). I decided to brush up on the facts of this STI. Turns out, there was a lot I didn't know.
He had genital herpes.
The more I spoke to my partner about herpes, the more I saw that the biggest issue surrounding herpes is not the STD itself but society’s stigma.
My newfound herpes education led me to make a choice: I was going to have sex with this guy.