Guest author from our community: Katie S.

After my herpes test came back positive, I was having a difficult time coming to terms with it. When I go through hardships, I want to talk to my friends and family. With herpes, I only wanted to talk to people who understood. I was afraid of the stigma around herpes, and afraid of what my friends and family might think. I joined a website that included herpes dating and a herpes forum. I started talking with other people who have herpes. I quickly realized just how wrong the stigma about herpes actually is. Through my experience having herpes, I have met some of the most interesting people, with the most loving, open, and kind hearts.

I never knew how many people have herpes. Herpes statistics show that about 1 in 6 American’s have genital herpes. Herpes does not have a certain type of person that it likes to host, regardless of what social stigma would have people think. You don’t need to be “dirty” and/or “stupid” to get herpes. It can happen to anyone. It’s an equal opportunity virus. With having herpes for almost a year now, I’ve been in touch with many others who share the virus. Some of these people include doctors, yoga instructors, wine enthusiasts, bar tenders, life coaches, nurses, caretakers, contractors, computer engineers, business owners, and wakeboarding coaches. In short, the other thing they share in common is being perfectly human. I’ve realized just how much we are all normal people, and we share a virus that’s totally manageable.

I’ve realized just how physically and emotionally manageable herpes is just by the people who I’ve met with herpes. I have gotten advice on using herpes medication for suppressive therapy. I’ve learned that it can be used to decrease outbreaks and greatly lessen the chance to spread herpes to a partner. I’ve also learned that taking a pill or two after having sex can decrease your chances of getting a herpes outbreak. It’s been important for me to learn how to manage my herpes physically, but the amount of love and support from others with herpes has been the most heartwarming and important to me through this journey emotionally.

Even before I had herpes, I loved to connect with people. One of my favorite things in the world is when people come together and support each other, showing love with no boundaries. It’s the world I’ve always wanted to live in, and I’ve experienced a lot of it within the herpes community. I have shared my diagnosis with close family and friends, all of whom have met me with love and understanding. I have shared my diagnosis with others who can relate, and I’ve never received so much love and support from perfect strangers. It’s been so beautifully eye-opening to see how powerful we are in helping others to love themselves, and to show ourselves the amount of love we deserve.

I’ve had lots of advice, kind words, and humor that have been spoken to me by people who have herpes. Here are some my favorites:

In an email from someone after I was first diagnosed:

“My interpretation is simple: Go live your life, be at peace (as much as you can) with your fuck ups and successes. Don’t spend all your time locked away on a spiritual quest.  Be okay with the fact that sometimes you’re the most wonderful person on the planet and a total jackass.”

In a text message from someone I met online:

“To get up each morning with the resolve to be happy is to set our own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances, instead of being conditioned by them. Please believe me, these are words to live by. Think positively and masterfully, with confidence and faith, and life becomes more secure, more fraught with action, richer in achievement and experience. Without hesitation, treat people as if they are what they ought to be, and you can help them become what they are capable of becoming.”

From someone’s Facebook page:

“The secret to happiness does truly lie within our own attitude … and even more so … within our ability to let go … to fully embrace the now… and to fully trust that whatever you are handed at any given moment is exactly what you need … and that in fact it is all perfect … and it is …”

From a Herpes Opportunity forum post just this week:

“The next day, I put my big girl pants on and began the road to my own sort of recovery, learning a lot along the way about self worth, acceptance — both of my diagnosis and also that there are things out of my control, responsibility for my actions, and many other emotions that varied depending on the situation I was in.”

From a forum response post by Adrial:

“And as for herpes? That will work itself out in the same process you are continuing through learning to love and accept yourself as you are. It’s the same process. Once you truly realize on a deep level who you are, that will begin to shift how you relate to others and will allow them to see you on a deeper level, too. I have so much trust in your own process and that time will take care of itself. No matter how long it takes, you are on the path. Don’t look to clock time for an answer of how long it will take. Look to your own heart and ask what it needs. That will tell you your next step.”

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