Got Herpes?

Hello, Kitty:

Please don't tell anyone who sent you this letter, but I have a real important question and I don't know who else to ask. I'm in a relationship with a girl, but I'm hiding an STD and I don't know what to do. I contracted herpes from an ex-girlfriend while I was in college six years ago. But after the initial breakout, I haven't had one since. I take Valtrex to control it, but my doctor says I need to tell all of my sexual partners I have something. If it's under control, I don't see why I should mess up a good thing with my new gf just because of a silly mistake I made years ago. We've already had sex a few times and she hasn't had any breakouts — though one time I saw some bumps on her face and was afraid I had given her herpes. It turned out to be heat bumps or something, so I'm safe, but I can't help but feel like I should tell her. Should I? When is the best time to tell her?

Bump E. Peen

Hey, Bump:

In a perfect world, you'd be able to go on living with a bumpy pickle in your pants, shag only in the dark, and never have to tell anyone about your I-fuck-lab-rats past. Unfortunately, the world isn't perfect. Even more unfortunate is that you have herpes. The good news is that more than 20 million people have it, so though it's an STD that makes condomless head and even hand jobs a scary thing, there are ways to control outbreaks. But — and this is a big but — it's incurable, so it's absolutely imperative to tell your partner you have this buzz-kill of a disease.

Although it will be difficult to come clean about being a wee bit dirty, your being ashamed of your past isn't as important as allowing your girlfriend the opportunity to decide whether she wants to enter STD territory with you. Lots of people don't tell their sexual partners they have herpes, and that's why lots of people have this unfortunate love souvenir. It's like telling your future/present mate you have trust issues or problems with going dutch; the disease is a part of you that people have a right to know about before they jump into the sack with you. Ideally, you'd want to establish a connection with the person before sex entered the relationship so that she'd possibly overlook that negative because she sees so many good things about you already. But since you've kept it from this girl already, she might choose to leave you for putting her health at risk. And she wouldn't be wrong, because you haven't been totally up front with her thus far. So tell this girl what's going on, allow her to decide if she still wants to be with you, and live with her choice. You never know, she might be one of the 19,999,999 other people in need of some Valtrex. Meow.

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Raina McLeod
Contact: Raina McLeod