Jeff, Age 29 – There’s more to me that just herpes

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Online you always see “D/D free,” right? People want this feeling of 100% safety. Sometimes people give you this whole list of things they’ve been tested for. I never really thought about getting something that wasn’t on those lists.

About 3 years ago, I noticed this red bump on the head of my dick. It didn’t hurt or itch. It actually looked like a little pimple. I went to the doctor eventually, but it had gone away by then so they said they couldn’t test it.

When it came back a few months later, I went to another doctor and they did a blood test. It came back that I had “HSV2″…they told me it was the genital herpes virus. I was kind of freaked out, but mostly I was confused. I didn’t know what that really meant or what was going to happen to me.

Since then, I’ve realized that most of the guys I meet don’t know about it either. They’ve heard of herpes, but most guys, like me, have no idea about the details. After I found out I got it, I did a lot of research to find out the basics.

First thing to know is that it’s not going to kill you, and it’s not going to cause brain damage or anything, like some other STDs. I get an outbreak every once in a while which means that some of those little red bumps come back in my genital area and penis. I can feel it, but it doesn’t really hurt or anything. For some people it can hurt or itch, and it can look more like small blisters. But really, most people don’t even do anything to treat it; you just wait until it goes away.

There is medicine for it and I just started taking it. At first I didn’t break out very often, but then it started to happen every 2 months or so. It got annoying so I went to the doctor and he gave me medicine to prevent outbreaks. There aren’t really any side effects I’ve noticed. Only things are that the pills are like huge and they can get expensive.

Really, actually having it hasn’t been that bad. The part that’s been trickier is how people react when I tell them. I always want to tell someone before we hook up or if we start dating, but you never know how someone’s going to take it. Actually, I met this guy who was a med student and I thought he’d be ok, but I told him and he hasn’t talked to me since. Then other people who don’t know anything about it can be totally cool, they just ask me lots of questions, which I don’t mind at all.

The main thing people ask about is whether they’re going to get it if we have sex. Basically, I just tell them that we can still have sex, it’s just that when I’m having an outbreak we have to avoid the parts that are breaking out. Since you can give it to someone by touching or rubbing up, we keep away from that area and just do other stuff.

For instance, I was dating a guy not too long ago and when I had an outbreak on my penis, I’d do stuff like blow him and jerk myself off at the same time. We both got off, we both had fun, and he never got anything. Besides, that was only for about two weeks in the entire time we went out.

Still, like I said, it’s really awkward to tell someone. I feel like I should, cause I know someone gave it to me and I don’t want to be that guy. It’s just that you never know when to say something. I try to do it before I develop too many feelings for someone, cause if they just disappear I don’t want to get hurt. But, I also try to wait until we know each other a little, cause people need to see there’s more to me than just herpes. It’s also pretty awkward to have that be the first thing you tell someone about yourself, you know?

I do it a little differently each time, but there are some things I’ve learned. First, I DON’T tell someone when we’re both drunk. That can get weird. Second, it seems like going out with someone for…I don’t know…2 or 3 weeks gives it enough time for them to know me, but not too much time that it’s gonna be this huge bomb, like, “What the hell? Why didn’t you tell me before?” I think as long as I’m up front with people, answer their questions, tell them the risks and let them know I can manage it…it’s cool.

Jeff, 29

What you should know…

  • Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus.
  • Genital herpes will typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum, which break leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take 2 to 4 weeks to heal the first time they occur.
  • The first outbreak usually occurs within 2 weeks after the virus is transmitted.
  • Other signs and symptoms during the initial exposure may include a second set of sores and flu-like symptoms, including fever and swollen glands.
  • Health care providers can diagnose genital herpes by visual inspection if the outbreak is typical, and by taking a sample from the sore(s) and testing it.
  • Genital herpes infections are also diagnosed between outbreaks by the use of a blood test.
  • Genital herpes can occur in genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom, as well as in areas that are not covered.
  • Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of genital herpes.
  • Persons with herpes should abstain from sexual activity with uninfected partners when lesions or other symptoms of herpes are present.
  • It is important to know that even if a person does not have any symptoms he or she can still infect sexual partners.

For more information about genital herpes and testing you can contact:

Mazzoni Health Center
809 Locust Street

The Herpes Resource

The National Herpes Hotline
(919) 361-8488

Read Related Posts...