Seven Reasons to Keep a Postive Attitude about Herpes

Patient Expert

If you've just been diagnosed with herpes, you may be worrying that your life (or at least your love life) is over - I know I thought so when I first learned of my condition. But I, and countless others, can attest that it is still possible to lead a normal life with herpes. In fact, it may even be possible to see some positive consequences of contracting herpes. (I know, sounds crazy, right? But it can be done)

Below I have compiled a list of seven reasons to keep a positive attitude about having herpes:

1. You are not alone. There are millions of people in the world with herpes. Each person has his/her own story about getting it, and each has unique symptoms. No matter what your experiences with herpes have been, there is someone else who has been through a similar situation. There are support groups all over the US, and many resources online. There is a large community and a wealth of information about the disease at your fingertips. You will never be left in the dark.

2. Herpes will not stand in the way of your love life. Many people don't buy into the stigma around herpes, and will still want to be with you, regardless of the fact that you have it. There are plenty of us, myself included, who have had successful relationships with people who don't have herpes. You can find tips on how to tell your partner here and here. If you're not ready to deal with telling a potential partner about your virus, but would still like to date, there are dating websites specifically for those with herpes, including, and countless others.

3. Rejection builds character. Even if you do decide to date someone who doesn't have herpes, and he or she rejects you upon finding out that you have it, it's not the end of the world. It may sound cliché, but you're better off without that person, who is no doubt ignorant and cowardly. With this added obstacle in your way, you will have to develop other ways of wooing your partner, besides plain and simple sexual availability.

4. Though herpes stays with you for life, it is not a life-threatening disease. While coming to terms with having herpes, I kept thinking about how different I would feel had I contracted HIV instead. Everyone gets sick at some point in his/her life. I feel lucky that the virus I caught is relatively harmless.

5. There is treatment available. Several prescription medicines are available for treating and/or preventing outbreaks, most commonly Valtrex and Acyclovir. In addition, there are many alternative approaches to treating herpes, including traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, diet modification, and more. There are many ailments in the world that are still relatively unknown by the medical community, and therefore have inadequate treatments. Though there's no cure for herpes, at least there are many ways to relieve the symptoms.

6. Take this opportunity to treat your body better. While in the past I used to party too much and sleep too little, I can no longer keep up with that lifestyle. If I go too many days without enough sleep, I'm pretty much asking for an outbreak. So having herpes is my excuse to go to bed at a reasonable hour, or opt for a cab versus crashing on a friend's couch. It has also forced me to improve my diet and make a concerted effort to exercise regularly. If you always feel healthy, what's the motivation to develop healthy habits?

7. Use herpes as an excuse to be vigilant about having protected sex. Although I'm usually a very rational person, I can get swept up in the heat of the moment at times. Since I got herpes, the choice to practice safe sex has become much more defined. The next time you feel the pressure or desire to have unprotected sex, keep in mind that you are putting your partner at risk for catching herpes (not to mention any other disease you may not know you have). Conversely, you are also putting yourself at risk for getting any disease your partner has (you know, the ones you previously breathed a sigh of relief upon finding out you didn't have).

Having herpes isn't all that bad. It has changed my perspective on sex and health, and has forced me to change many negative behaviors. How has getting herpes positively affected you?