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 Post subject: Risk vs. Love
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2007 5:46 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2007 5:12 pm
Posts: 2
Location: California
First, I want to say thank you for all the thoughtful posts. I have been browsing here unregistered for some time, and while I have benefited from other threads, I wanted to pose my semi-unique situation here and see what advice you might have for me.

I found out by surprise about 2 months ago that I am HSV-2 positive. I thought it was the last time I would have to take an STD test. My boyfriend and I were absolutely in love almost from the first date. We had been having only protected (with condoms) sex, and after we both got our blood tests back, we had planned to ditch the condoms and rely on my birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Needless to say, this news was shocking and disappointing for both of us.

His initial reaction was to comfort me. He was worried, of course, that he had already contracted it himself or that maybe he had passed it to me. Neither of us have ever had any outward symptoms that would suggest we had a herpes outbreak, but after doing a lot of reading, we both realize that isn't so uncommon.

So, after a couple of weeks, he got his results back, and he is negative. I should be happy for him, right? And I guess, on some level, I am. But now, he's totally freaked out about catching this.

As soon as I found out I was positive, we stopped having sex. We agreed that we would wait until we are married. I thought this was very reasonable. Why risk it without a lifelong commitment? No problem.

Over the last several weeks, however, he has demonstrated what seem to me to be irrational fears. For example, I was wearing panties and he was in boxers when he came up from behind to give me a hug; he turned his hips 45 degrees to make sure his penis didn't come anywhere near my panties.

This prompted a sort of come-to-Jesus conversation about his fears. I told him he wouldn't get herpes through two layers of fabric. And while he acknowledged that in his head, he is irrationally afraid.

So in a nutshell, we broke up over this. I am devastated. He is devastated. We have both cried a lot. We both tell each other still that we are in love. We both acknowledge that this relationship was heading toward marriage - until this damn herpes thing cropped up.

So my question is... is it possible for someone to get over a fear like this? After more talking and crying, etc., he has agreed to work on his fear. He is willing to go to counseling for it. I am trying to find all the facts I can about it.... We both desperately want to save this relationship.

And at the end of the day, it seems like such a no brainer to me. I mean, on one hand you have the promise of lifelong love plus the chance you'll have a very manageable skin irritation a couple times a year.... or give up the most amazing relationship you've ever had to find another partner who may or may not have herpes (or worse). I just don't understand why this fear is so strong. I mean, obviously no one WANTS herpes, but am I asking too much for him to overlook it? (I guess it's easy to say no when you're the one who is already positive.)

I love him with all my heart, and I know he loves me. I think if we can overcome this, our relationship will be stronger than ever. I just don't know how or if we can overcome it. Any tips? Advice? Words of encouragement? Should I cut my losses now? (Please say no.)

*sigh*

Thanks for your thoughts...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2007 6:40 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 11:47 am
Posts: 5443
Location: PA
Oh sweetie - sorry to hear that such a common and relatively stupid virus as herpes is causing you this much grief :( It's unfortunate that we are taught so little about herpes in general that when we hear the word herpes our first inclination tends to be "OH MY GAWD" and we want to head for the hills :( 25 years after Time magazine published their infamous cover on "the scarlet H" we are still all walking around with giant red H's on our foreheads with folks running the other way :( Asha just published a study on how the stigma is still going strong but why it is I have no idea. 1 out of 4 adults in the US has hsv2. Many more have hsv1 orally and/or hsv1 genitally. You can't spit without hitting someone with some form of herpes simplex either orally and/or genitally! I wish they'd do a better job at educating people on it in public schools and colleges so that they'd better understand it instead of running from something they know nothing about .

Having lived with hsv2 myself for 21 years I have first hand knowledge of how for the most part it's literally a pain in the butt. Fortunately it's fairly controllable and even the most simple of precautions greatly reduces the chances of being transmitted to a partner. Of course convincing your bf of this - that look at how little effort you both took since you've been together and he's still negative - is easier said than done sometimes. It sounds like right now he probably has a bullhorn shouting "HERPES" at him in his mind whenever he's thinking sex or even physical contact with you. I'm sure you read here already that I"ve been dealing with rejection myself lately - met a new man, we dated for over a month and really seemed to click on many levels and as soon as I said - I have genital herpes - well let's just say I could make ice cubes on him now. When we talked about it more he said that even though the rational part of his mind knows that a 1% risk each year of contracting it ( if we used suppressive therapy and condoms as well as avoid sex during obvious symptoms ) is very reasonable - he fears that should he contract it that he could never date again because he couldn't tell folks he has it like I do. Yeah I guess that is kinda reasonable thinking in this day and age where relationships in general don't last but even I have a hard time grasping the way he feels. to me herpes is the least of my baggage. We've still had a few dates but I have a feeling I"m wasting my time :( It's been hard for me to deal with. That said - the last guy I dated long term - took a few weeks to deal with the idea of my having herpes but then he did come around once he realized how small potatoes herpes was compared to what we had together. Before all this I've only ever had 1 fellow decide it was too risky. Most of the folks I know who have been living with herpes for awhile now have had similar experiences.

Big hugs sweetie - I wish I could help you more with this and wave my magic wand and make all your hurt go away. Counseling to talk about it hopefully will help him work thru his fears and strengthen the relationship in general. Hopefully he realizes that he's making much ado about nothing and comes to his senses to see just how damn lucky he is to have found a wonderful woman like yourself to spend the rest of his life with :)

betsy

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2007 7:03 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2007 5:12 pm
Posts: 2
Location: California
Thanks Betsy. I appreciate your perspective.

It's funny you use the bullhorn analogy because I said something similar to him this week. It's like he can't keep the real risk in perspective because all he hears is, "HERPES!" So we agreed to quit using the word, and instead we are referring to it as "happies." Yes, I know it's silly, but I'm willing to try anything....

Regarding suppressive therapies, as I said before, I have never had (or noticed) a real outbreak. When I asked my doctor about Valtrex, etc., she said I didn't need it because I wasn't having outbreaks. I understand Valtrex in particular is quite expensive, but I would be willing to shoulder the cost if it was thought to reduce my boyfriend's (or now ex-boyfriend's or I suppose whoever's) risk of catching it from me. Understanding you are not my doctor, do you think it's worthwhile for me to insist on a daily suppressive therapy?

Thanks again... I appreciate this so much. I don't really know who else to talk to about all this. My doctor has 15 minutes at a time, and she doesn't seem very interested or compassionate about this. Perhaps it's time to find another doctor, huh?

And I'm sorry to hear about that last coward you met. Hearing about him though makes me think my BF (or whatever he is right now) may not get over this, and if he doesn't, I'll have to lick my wounds and try to move on. The thought of that makes me sick.

Seriously... a 1% chance of a manageable skin condition... is that REALLY a reason to throw it all away???? Ugh! I just can't quit thinking about the stupid irony of it all.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2007 7:31 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 11:47 am
Posts: 5443
Location: PA
Well I'd definitely talk to your bf about suppressive therapy. If he needs the peace of mind then it's well worth it. It's more than just about the number of ob's when it comes to a discordant relationship ( where one has hsv2 and the other doesn't ). Perhaps he needs the peace of mind for a while until he finishes processing all this. The valtrex website and the herpes handbook both have a lot of info on this. Don't forget the $10 off coupons on the valtrex website if you go with valtrex. Also look into ordering it from your insurances mail order pharmacy plan if they have one. It's often cheaper that way.

I think it's hard for many medical professionals to deal with herpes with their patients. If they know anything at all about it then they know it's really not that huge of a deal in general however when you are actually living with it it gives you a different perspective. I think if you don't have it yourself it's hard to talk to your patients about how to let it fit into their lives.

I'm right with you that it seems stupid to walk away from something for a 1% risk especially in a well established relationship where it's been unkowningly all along. I'd take herpes over ex's and children any day - at least you can take a pill once a day to make herpes better - can't do that for ex's and kids ( well at least not legally and still be able to hold down a job ...he he he ). Out of all the hurdles in a relationship - herpes is such a small one to deal with.

Back to my chocolate cake with chocolate peanut butter icing - it's the only therapy my hmo covers ;)

betsy

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