Messages from people with herpes

"When I found out, it felt like the end of the world, I thought I would never have sex again...When I eventually told friends about it, I found out that 2 of them had it and my last boyfriend had it too. I realised it was so so common and not the big deal I thought it was. " – VP

"I discovered winning the war in my mind was key. The emotional impact of being diagnosed with genital herpes was much worse than the condition and it doesn't deserve the upset it causes." – CH

"I didn't want to see a counsellor or have contact with a support group when I was diagnosed, but when I finally did call the Helpline and spoke to someone it was the best thing I had done. I felt so much better immediately. I had been so down about it, and this contact helped me deal with and accept it. It took me 6 months to pluck up the courage  and I realised  what a shame it was that I hadn't done this earlier. I highly recommend it." – MJ

"When I finally told my partner I had genital herpes, he was relieved, he thought it was something much worse..." – AH

" The first time I told someone I had genital herpes in the early stages of a relationship, he said: ' You want to know something... I have too.' ...I couldn' t believe it... all that worry... we had to laugh." – JM

"I didn't want to take any drugs, so I tried natural therapies. These didn't work. I now take aciclovir 400mg twice a day and have not had any outbreaks since. If your outbreaks are frequent, I really recommend it." – MK

" One thing I would like to reinforce: Please do not define yourself as 'someone with herpes'. Everyone has a disease  or some health issue (some of which are so much worse than herpes), at some point. Herpes may be one of them, but it is not the end of the world and does not define who you are. I see it as a skin problem and we have a role to play in not dramatising the infection. There is effective treatment and herpes is i not life-threatening. or even for most people physically bothersome" – AJ

"I was in my 20's when I contracted herpes. I've had to disclose my herpes to several people throughout my life and must say that the responses have been positive and understanding in every single case bar one. Reactions have been: "Well if you've got it I want it too" (all-time best reaction, should have married him), "I've got it as well", "Thanks for telling me and I need to know more about it" and the one "Oh no that's a deal-breaker". The one adverse reaction was from an online relationship so I don't hold it in much stead. The reaction you get to a disclosure tells you so much about the other person. As someone once said " it sorts out the stayers from the players". – JP

"I've had Herpes for approx 25 years and was initially devastated. II soon learned that having Herpes didn't change the person I was - except in perhaps a positive way. I  realised that life could carry on as before but I became less judgemental, more careful about long term relationships, and more understanding of some of the issues other people face. Herpes in the overall scheme of life doesn't have to be and shouldn't be a problem." – RK

In my late twenties as a recently divorced male going about the dating scene - on New Years Eve 1999 I was diagnosed with Genital Herpes - this was the first time I had really ever paid attention to the word Herpes as it had never been something I had to deal with. The Doctor gave me a leaflet "how to tell your partner" and sent me on my way. I was confused and very worried - what was it? how would I deal with it? would I ever have children? whom had I caught if off? these and a thousand other unanswered questions flying around my head!

I had a dreadful first occurrence that put me in bed for a day or two - I had a "classic primary occurrence" in terms of the diagnosis, when you go from a healthy person going about to a sweating mess suffering in bed it really was a worry! Things became worse -  trying to get the basic facts and understand what had happened to me turned out to be a mission as it was the holiday season and the internet was not readily available - it was tough as there were not too many people working, I ended up in front of all sorts of people and reading all sorts of leaflets - basically everything I could get my hands on that may offer me some relief in terms of information and understanding. In summary my experience and the way I was handled was terrible. I recall I kept reading the best sounding leaflet I had over and over to make myself feel better!

I was the VERY fortunate to chance upon Claire Hurst at the NZHF - Claire first of all gave me the facts and answers to my many questions, I finally realised that all I was facing was a small skin irritation in a different part of my body and that the condition was very common in a lot of people - Claire "normalised" the condition and made me feel OK for the first time in weeks. Claire also put me face to face with another person whom also had herpes and she provided the emotional support and answers to my many questions and further "normalised" the situation to the point that I finally felt like a human being once again.

I did have to tell my next partner about my condition and because I knew the facts it was not a problem - we have been married now for 14 years and we have a child and a very close loving relationship - Herpes is the least of my worries and I cannot recommend Claire and her associates for the fine work they do - we are very lucky in New Zealand to have this resource, patient guidance and the care for what is basically a small skin irritation that with the right understanding is insignificant and very manageable.

Honestly - don't panic - GET THE FACTS! Trust me on that!" – PF