Guest author from our community: Katie S.

Life loves to give me surprises every year; and 2012 was no exception. I got a last minute ticket to a festival that I’d been wanting to go to for years; my mom paid me a surprise visit in Colorado; I was intimate with somebody and got herpes; I was intimate with somebody else and gave him herpes. Wait.. what? What did life just give me?! I thought this would never actually really happen? I thought I could never do this to anyone?! My ignorance was bliss for years, but then reality hit and I realized that life happens… even if you’re not prepared.

What I wish I knew before any of this happened, are the facts about herpes, and how it is spread. I certainly would have been more prepared, and more cautious. After learning about my herpes diagnosis is when I began looking up the herpes statistics. I learned that an estimated 80% of Americans have Oral Herpes (HSV-1). It can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact; from mouth to genital, or genital to genital contact. There is a much larger risk of spreading the virus when a mouth sore is present, and a much smaller risk when there is no sore present.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans have Genital Herpes (HSV-2) which is generally spread from genital to genital contact. Again, there is a much greater risk when herpes sores are present, and much smaller risk when there is no sore present. When herpes is spread without a sore being present, this is called asymptomatic shedding. Asymptomatic shedding cannot be predicted but is known to occur on at least 5% of days during the year.

Knowing that I spread herpes to someone else is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I used to beat myself up constantly, anguishing about him and what he was going through because of me. I was at my lowest low, and tried to find some self-forgiveness in the fact that I’d passed the herpes virus before I even know I had it. With time, support, and a lot of love, I have experienced self-forgiveness and love in way that I never thought possible for myself. I am so thankful for the support and realizations that have come along the way. I have realized that life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond to it. The best way to respond to life is to find compassion for yourself, be love for yourself and others, and learn from whatever life gives you.

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