Occupation: Sales Exec
Yr Infected: '85ish
OB's per yr: W/O meds about 8 - 10; with meds none to date(on suppressive since
Prodromes: Fatigue, tingling, stabbing, burning pain, tenderness in genital, thigh areas.
Method of control: Zovirax - 400mg bid (when I don't forget to take them -- duh!)
11/99: 22 months on zovirax suppressive therapy. 0 outbreaks since.***
My Story: Lets see - I have lived with herpes for 13 years or so now. I still don't know exactly when or from whom I contracted the virus -- and it is no longer important. At the time, I had been dating pretty frequently -- and then met my (then) future (now past) wife. I always assumed that she didn't pass it on to me -- and that may still be the case -- but knowing what I know now about latency and shedding -- it is very possible she brought me this gift. In retrospect. I had some early symptoms but didn't have a bad outbreak until after an STD exam by a dermatologist. The next day - WHAM! My pelvis felt like aliens had landed and set up shop. Very swollen glands, very painful, etc. That lasted about a month or so -- then it settled into OBs about 3 or 4 times a year. When my wife and I were about to have a baby (8 years ago), I became very concerned about complications. All the doctors were fully informed -- but there wasn't a lot of feedback on the issue. Our daughter was born healthy and she is a wonderful 7 year old today. Given the lack of my knowledge and the lack of communication from the doctors -- we were very lucky! Along the way, herpes became a bigger problem for me as my Outbreaks increased to about 8X year or so - I was under a lot of stress. Having sex became part of the stress. That and other issues lead to a breakup with my wife. I
only saw her have an OB once -- on her butt. It wasn't something she talked about easily -- and to be fair -- my knowledge was too limited to say much intelligently on the subject. After the split-up - I went into a 2 year "seclusion" from social "activities." Finally, after 2 years I was sufficiently sorry for myself -- and lonely. I decided to get my butt back into having a social life -- and maybe a relationship, etc.
It is only recently that I had begun to deal with managing the virus; meaning - I started researching and learning that the info I had been given in the past was not necessarily all there was to it -- i.e., there are methods of controlling both the virus and transmission -- better than what I was aware of in the past. I started becoming "enlightened" to these issues mostly by participating in the help forums on AOL and the internet. I was quite
frankly somewhat shocked to learn that what I thought were the facts were simply
not accurate. Things like only transmitting when an Outbreak is present -- etc., etc.. From that, I quickly realized that I had some learning to do. A funny thing happened as I participated more in discussions and filled my head more with knowledge - I became stronger! I recently (February) went on suppressive therapy for two reasons: 1) I wanted to reduce or eliminate outbreaks 2) I wanted to reduce the possibility of transmitting the virus. It has made a huge difference in my life. I have had NO outbreaks since starting
suppressive -- some prodromal symptoms -- but no OBs. Today, I live a normal
social/sexual life as a single male living in NYC. My Rx for having the safest possible sex with herpes: No symptoms+condom+antivirals.
Medical Experiences: Too numerous to mention! I will say only this on this subject: I have a wonderful dermatologist today who has HSV1 and is simply a great person - but who knows less than I do about treatments, transmission etc. - I am NOT an expert - but the lesson (for me) is that we MUST educate ourselves and take responsibility for both our own well being and that of our partners - we can't simply rely on the medical practitioners.
Telling: You know this is probably the single toughest personal hurdle -- but THE most important. I have "told" several potential partners over the past couple of years - I have only met with one negative response. And the one negative response was really my fault for handling the process poorly - I "told" her in a crowded restaurant with several people sitting very close by -- another "duh"! In my mind the best way for someone to "prepare" for "telling" is to learn as much as possible about the virus to feel both confident and to be able to accurately answer questions -- this will make your potential partner much more at ease. Also, I believe strongly in "managing expectations" -- i.e., there WILL be rejection in our lives -- we must understand that and get as comfortable with it as possible. In our minds we must know that if this person can't get past these issues -- then it isn't meant to be -- maybe we can remain friends -- maybe not. Move on. Some will disagree here, but for me, there are no moral judgments about relationships in this issue. It is not a matter of finding the "right" person forever. If that's what you are looking for then fine - If not, that's ok too. There is, however, a strong moral and ethical issue -- the responsibility that comes with any potential sexual encounter -- the "telling" is not an option -- it is a mandate. As a point of reference, I believe the link at the bottom of this page on "telling" is an excellent one.