The number 437737 is not just a random series of numerals.
These days, it is a code discreetly used by people who suffer from a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) known as herpes.
If you have been diagnosed and medically confirmed to be infected by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), whether it is oral herpes or herpes genitalis (genital herpes), your primary reaction and the instinctive response would be to feel fear.
And this is quite understandable.
After all, society has placed so much stigma on people with STD that those who contract these kinds of infections fear the worst in their lives. Particularly, when it comes to dating (whether finding one in person or by means of online dating), the anxiety of knowing that you have herpes can be crippling enough to the point that you might choose to just embrace solitude and abstain from dating altogether.
While having fears and anxiety about your condition is valid and natural, however, you also need to know that dating (and even finding love) when you have herpes is still possible. But before you get back in the dating game, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
Your first step begins with self-acceptance.
Having been at the receiving end of a diagnosis that is life changing, you are entitled to feel incredibly overwhelmed about your situation. And that is totally normal. Despite this heartbreaking news, you need to know that your life will not end with this disease. In order to get your life back and open yourself up to the prospect of dating and relationships, you need to embrace your situation and acknowledge it for what it is. Acceptance starts with properly educating yourself on what having genital herpes entails and knowing how you can cope with the infection. Taking this first and responsible step is crucial if you want to be dating while you have an STD.
You are not alone.
Statistics on the prevalence of the herpes simplex virus lead to the generalization that having herpes is more common than you think. As such, you need to know and take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in your journey. There are communities built by people like you who suffer from this incurable disease and encourage each other through support groups and even online dating sites. In these groups, you need not worry about awkward disclosures and stigma, because you will be mingling with people who are also getting by with this disease one day at a time.
You need to be honest with your potential partner.
But dating when you have herpes does not limit you to interacting with people who have the same condition. You can still believe in the possibility that one day a person will come into your life and help you realize that you are more than enough. In other words, you can meet someone who might have tested negative for any STD yet can be a potential long-term partner. But before you can fast-forward to this happily ever after scenario, you have to lay the groundwork and establish a healthy line of communication between you and the person you are dating. Details of how and when to disclose your condition are certainly on your discretion, but you have to ensure transparency and be willing to disclose that you have herpes.
Ideally, you need to have this talk on sexual health before you get intimate with the person you are dating. You need to be able to discuss with your partner certain ways that you can observe to prevent the spread of herpes during sexual intimacy. This includes wearing condoms as a form of barrier and protection. It also means abstaining from sexual contact on episodes of an outbreak (i.e. when herpetic lesions and viral shedding are on its peak). In the same manner, you also need to be open about the fact that transmission of this disease can happen even when you have no outbreak, such as on days when you do not feel its symptoms. As with any other relationship, honesty and communication are fundamental factors and dating while having herpes is still no exception.
Bottom line is dating is definitely possible even when you have been diagnosed with herpes. And with self-acceptance, socialization, and open communication, you can continue with your dating life despite having this condition.