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If you’ve been physically intimate, freaking out was probably your first reaction (Do I now have herpes? Then come the other questions: Is herpes a deal breaker? But first, let’s get straight on what herpes is and what it isn’t.Are you stupid to continue a relationship with someone who has herpes? There are two viruses that people talk about when they talk about herpes: Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus 2, or HSV-1 and HSV-2.It’s most contagious during an outbreak (when there are visible sores), but HSV can shed viruses when a person is asymptomatic as well.So, yes, you can contract herpes from someone whether or not they are having an outbreak.That’s a sad reality that you and your partner will have to face. “When thinking about herpes diagnosis as an indicator someone has cheated, let me pose this question: When you catch a cold or the flu, do you look for the culprit? And that's because there's no stigma and shame associated with catching the cold or the flu.But you don’t have to bring that shit directly into your relationship. Do you search back in your memory for which doorknob you touched that might have been infected or which person sneezed in your vicinity? So, blame and origin is irrelevant, because those things are seen as unfortunate but part of being human – our bodies are resilient but not infallible, and the potential for infection and risk is present in almost everything we do.
Is the risk higher than being in a relationship with someone who is confirmed negative? But is it realistic to only be in relationships with people who have been recently tested for herpes? For most people, herpes outbreaks happen less and less frequently as time goes on.We have a long tradition of shaming, ridicule, and misconception to thank for that. According to the CDC, most herpes transmissions occur when the infected person shows no symptoms and may not even know they are infected. After all, isn’t this essentially what just happened to you? “Unless you actually have reason to suspect they're cheating, a herpes diagnosis in the middle of a relationship does not mean they have been cheating.” Jenelle Marie Davis, the founder of The STD Project, explained to Primer.From Shakespeare and South Park to sex ed and parodies of Valtrex commercials, herpes has been treated unfairly by mass society. “Most STI panels do not test for herpes, most people are asymptomatic (meaning they do not have signs or symptoms or experience outbreaks), and even the tests that are out there often return false negatives if someone was recently exposed or does not have a high enough concentration of the virus or the antibodies for the virus (depending on the type of test).” Dwelling on how someone got herpes is wasted mental and emotional energy, when really, you should be focusing on the next steps for your relationship in the here and now.Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can cause infections anywhere on your body, and both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are more common than you think. The prevalent statistics you encounter in drug commercials, sex ed, and PSAs are inconsistent and often confusing.That’s because herpes infections are much more complicated than we paint them in our SNL sketches and stand-up routines. It’s from Project Accept.org: Around 75% of Americans carry HSV 1 or HSV 2 somewhere on their body.