About a year ago I found out that I have hsv2 (genital herpes). This news changed my whole world, and I don’t think it had to be that way. Finding out that I have herpes was devastating, but what made it a million times worse was having a “bff” who completely turned her back on me.
Things you SHOULDN’T do when you find out your friend has herpes (or any STD really).
1. Tell everyone you know.
This one should be really obvious guys. If your friend told you that they have herpes chances are they trust you a lot. There’s also a pretty good chance that they don’t want anyone to know, unless they choose to tell them. And you can probably bet that they are already pretty upset, they don’t need this added stress. *You should definitely not tell people immediately after they confide in you.*
2. Treat them differently.
If your friend recently found out that they have herpes you should try to treat them like you always have. I mean really, why would anything need to change? You should probably not say to your herpes having friend “um I don’t really think we should be sharing clothes right now”. That definitely would not feel good.
3. Say mean things about it behind their back.
As much as you might think they won’t find out, they will. Especially if you are saying these things to people they are close with. Going along with your boyfriend’s idea to refer to your apartment as the “herpes den” is really not becoming. Don’t make fun of someone for having an STD. That is just mean.
4. Abandon them.
My ex-roommate/best friend moved out and broke a future lease because her boyfriend threatened to discontinue their sexual relationship if she lived with me. If your boyfriend says he won’t have sex with you because your roommate has herpes…. I’m pretty sure it’s the boyfriend you should think about ditching. Should someone really be punished for having an STD? Also, don’t use your roommate’s herpes as an excuse to your parents for why you need to move out. This is once again just part of being a good friend, and a good person.
Things you SHOULD do when you find out your friend has herpes:
I’m sure that you might have questions about what herpes means for your roommate and yourself. Don’t assume that you can get herpes from sharing clothes, or using the same bathroom, or sitting on the same couch! I mean, doesn’t that just sound ignorant. You shouldn’t believe everything you hear about herpes. Research before you make ignorant assumptions.
2. Be Supportive
If you’re a good friend, you probably already know this. Finding out you know someone with herpes can be shocking, I get it. But, it was probably even more shocking to the person who found out they have it. How would you want to be treated if you found out this news? Just be there for them, tell them everything will be fine, make them feel like they are still beautiful, cheer them up if they are down. I really needed reassurance when I was diagnosed, luckily I had other friends who were great, and an amazing boyfriend who stood by me every step of the way.
I believe that herpes is something that everyone needs to talk about more. It is so common: In the U.S. ONE in FIVE people has genital herpes. That’s means over 50 MILLION people have it. And 85% of people with genital herpes don’t know they have it. Genital herpes is the most prevalent viral STD. When clinicians do standard STD tests they do not test for HSV1 or HSV2 unless requested. ASK TO BE TESTED.
Maybe if we talked more about herpes, people would know that many of those who have it have very healthy sex and love lives, and can avoid spreading it to others. Maybe if we talked more about herpes, infection rates could be lowered. Maybe if we talked more about herpes, those who have it wouldn’t have to feel alone. Stop the stigma y’all.