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1 in 6 means that if you’ve had three sexual partners in your life, then there’s a chance that one of them has had herpes and an even greater chance that one of them has had a partner with herpes.So, when I tell you that your partner disclosing to you that she—and therefore maybe you—have herpes, I really mean that it’s not that earth-shattering.If you’ve been physically intimate, freaking out was probably your first reaction (Do I now have herpes? Then come the other questions: Is herpes a deal breaker? But first, let’s get straight on what herpes is and what it isn’t.Are you stupid to continue a relationship with someone who has herpes? There are two viruses that people talk about when they talk about herpes: Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus 2, or HSV-1 and HSV-2.Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can cause infections anywhere on your body, and both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are more common than you think. The prevalent statistics you encounter in drug commercials, sex ed, and PSAs are inconsistent and often confusing.That’s because herpes infections are much more complicated than we paint them in our SNL sketches and stand-up routines. It’s from Project Accept.org: Around 75% of Americans carry HSV 1 or HSV 2 somewhere on their body.But there’s something to be said for someone who knows they have herpes and knows how to manage it versus someone who has herpes and doesn’t know and has never been tested. Garrison, a clinical sexologist, told Primer: “When a person living with herpes knows everything about herpes and can comfort themselves and educate their partners, when they can know their prodrome and understand what that means, when they are aware of what can trigger their outbreaks, then sex with them can be (and often is! That being said, you'll never reduce your risk of contracting herpes from a partner down to zero. There are three ways to reduce the risk of transmission.
If it does transmit, there’s an ~80% chance that they won’t recognize any symptoms from the infection.Herpes prodrome include itchiness, tingling, burning, numbness, aches, shooting pains, and other sensations and can appear 30 minutes to a couple of days before an outbreak. The need to always wear protection and be aware of outbreaks and prodromal symptoms is certainly unique.When prodrome is present, it means the virus is active and the chances of transmission are high. But on the grand scale of things, herpes might be less of a challenge than celiac’s disease or severe nut allergies or even a monthly menstrual cycle.Coupled with a good understanding of herpes and a frank and open discussion with your partner, this can mean a very manageable relationship with herpes.Bottom-line: Is a long term relationship with someone with herpes a life sentence for protected sex?