Name: Kate
Age: 22
Sex: Female
Occupation: geologist
Type: HSV2
Yr. Infected: 1997
O.B.'s per yr: 6

Prodromes: Itching, tingling, feeling sensitive "down there"

Method of Control: I have been on Famvir 125 which did nothing and also was on acyclovir 400 which helped a lot with suppression. Currently I am on nothing--I started the "let nature take its course" approach in the fall of 1999, and it's worked very well for me, with my OBs decreasing in frequency and intensity.

My Story: I received the gift that keeps on giving when I was raped in February of 1997. Seven days later I woke up with incredible pain, burning and aches and when I went to the school health center I was told that it was a bacterial infection. Three days later I gave up and drove home to my doctor and he immediately identified it as herpes. He was about as stonefaced as one can be, and gave me basically no information. Later he told me that I was his first herpes diagnosis (he's been an MD for 10 years), and because of me he is now much more informed about the virus. I guess someone had to be the first! It's been over 3 years since my primary outbreak and my OBs have lessened in severity by about 100 times and in length, although they still visit me an average of 6 times per year, depending on stress.

Telling: I have had 2 telling experiences since I was diagnosed. Both were positive ones. At the time I wasn't sure if the first one said "it's OK" because he wanted sex or if he really wasn't bothered by it. It sounds like such a pessimistic thing to say, but at the time I couldn't imagine anyone taking the chance at voluntarily exposing themselves to such a thing. Since then I have begun to view this stupid annoying rash as just that--as stupid annoying rash. I do not feel limited by the virus, and anyone who can't see past that doesn't deserve my time and energy. My second experience was with my current boyfriend who quietly accepted it. He asked very few questions at first, had a couple for me a few days later, and has since dropped it, although I know it's on his mind. We are not sexually active, so my telling him was basically a courtesy, but someday when that changes, he will have had ample time to digest the information and hopefully become more informed.

Advice to Newcomers: Herpes is not you and you are not herpes. It will get better.