This week a reader who has symptomless herpes asks whether he should tell new sexual partners that he has been diagnosed with herpes.
“I was tested positive for herpes. I have not have any symptoms besides two blisters as a first outbreak and one more blister 5 months after that. The doctor said as long as I don’t have an outbreak I won’t pass it on to someone.
“My confusion and embarrassment comes from: If I don’t have an outbreak (so I can’t pass it on theoretically), is it wrong not to let future sexual partners know? If not informing them would be wrong, why would this be the case?”
Toby, 21, Swansea
We asked three of our writing community their thoughts on whether you should share everything with a partner.
Tom Diver, Author of The Knee Jerk column
Did you know you were interacting with someone who had herpes when you contracted it? As a matter of conscience would it be fair for you to pass it on and someone else also have to deal with this dilemma too?
If the relationships engaged in are more than casual, the dynamic of this situation changes as the sexual component and minimum risk you pose is offset by everything else you have to offer.
In any relationship honesty is a cornerstone. Therefore I would say you should tell someone who could be at risk, so they could make an informed decision.
An aspect of it is about the respect you have for someone else and your own self-respect. It’s a conscience/morality question.
When I was a young man I couldn’t think straight if I had sex on my mind. This may sound flippant but I promise you it’s not. If the problem is sexually driven; have a wank and then ask yourself again!
Andrew Goyvaerts UEqualsU Advocate
Disclosure is a common concern for people diagnosed with a communicable infection, he shouldn’t feel alone or too lost in that because a lot of these people are also looking for a way forward with some already having done so and willing to share their experiences.
Joining a group, even if it is an online forum, that helps people diagnosed with herpes will let him see how people who have been diagnosed long-term handle this and other situations.
Jake Hook Editor and Chief of THEGAYUK.com
Never underestimate the power of the condom.
Even if you don’t have visible signs, you might still be contagious.
If you’re worried then make sure you’ve always got a fresh supply of condoms and don’t engage in unprotected sex – oral or anal.
As for a long-term partner, then it’s up to you when to fess up, but you will have to at some point. That might be the first time you have an outbreak, but if that doesn’t come until years into your relationship, it could cause quite a bit of concern to your partner that you didn’t speak up about it earlier in your relationship and might cause serious concerns for them about trusting you.
However, there’s a strong likelihood that he’ll probably have a form of the herpes virus too. A recent study, by WHO, found that globally over 66 per cent of people under 50 have it. There are two types of herpes simplex virus HSV – type 1 (oral – think cold sores) and type 2 genital herpes, both are contagious.
Having an open a frank conversation about sexual health between you and your partner is a good thing to do, communication, as they say, is the key.
The NHS suggests that you continue to use condoms, even after the symptoms have gone.
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The resident Agony Uncle for THEGAYUK.com with over seven years of counselling experience with the LGBT+ community.