Q: Boyfriend has genital herpes. How to stay protected
There's no silver bullit for protecting yourself against herpes. One out of nine men are infected with herpes verus 2 out of 10 women according to the CDC (implying it's easier for a man to infect a woman than the other way around). The CDC is a good website: http://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/STDFact-herpes.htm. People with no symptoms of the virus can infect another person (that's how I got it). Check out this recent article: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-genital-herpes-spread-sex-gallery,0,6367853.story. Also, I like the New York Times website on giving your partner herpes. Even with an antiviral drug and condom use, an infected partner can still transmit it: http://consults.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/18/giving-your-partner-herpes/. People have become infected without sexual intercourse but through physical skin contact with the thighs, buttocks and genital areas.
I have lived with this virus for almost eight years. I have a weakened immune system and consequently frequent and painful outbreaks even on antiviral medication. The person who gave me herpes was a doctor who denied having any STDs. He later alleged he didn't think he needed to disclose it because he was asymptomatic. Actually, he was very selfish and irresponsible. Afterwards, he tried to convince we were in a committed relationship so why did it matter? In reality, he has been in several relationships since me. While he indicated to me on one occasion he now discloses it, he attracts women who are willing to gamble with their health in exchange for a place to live and caretaking.
Personally, I couldn't have a sexual relationship with an unifected partner knowing that I am gambling with someone else's health. I read somewhere that eventually 1/3 of all uninfected partners eventually become infected. I certainly wouldn't risk my health until I got to know this person a lot better. Incidently, I knew this person four months before we began a sexual relationship-- I thought his intentions had integrity. In reality, he couldn't be alone. With me, herpes has taught me how to seek and live an independent life doing things that I enjoy. In fact, there have been a few times where an interested person has come my way-- I go home to my dog without giving it a second thought other than I find it amusing at my age. Good luck to you and I am so glad to know this interested person has the integrity to allow you to make an informed choice.
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