The (Not So) Black and White Ethics of Herpes

The (Not So) Black and White Ethics of Herpes

If you were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, would you tell your past partners? If he does, look at your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy and call the insurer to advise that you have been, or are going to be, sued for liable or slander. IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. I know the first thing I thought about was, “oh my gosh, how could he not have told me”…. The real questions are: Do you care about this person? There is no real proof of the direction of herpes, only where it is and where it isn’t. If you choose to tell someone face to face, you may get to see some initial reactions that will give you a hint of what the other person is thinking.

Lawsuits over who gave whom an incurable STI make me feel a specific type of nauseated: if only it were that simple to determine justice about a biological thing. Again, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. E.G….you have a ‘cold sore’ on your mouth, and kiss someone’s neck…well you’re not going to get herpes on your neck.. My inbox is full of people wondering if they can press charges, asking how they should warn their ex’s future partners, and feeling as though their life has been ruined by someone who will get off scot-free. The other half of my inbox is people terrified to tell their partner that they have herpes, and when, and how, and if they really have to. Read more about Dr. And I know too well the stories of those who weren’t disclosed to.

It’s a difficult vantage point on a question that I used to see as black and white. But after I spoke with him, I felt like he was the 10% that didn’t care who else had it too and they would just keep passing the Gift! You should call your past partners when you get diagnosed. Informed consent is everything. How you got HSV doesn’t matter. “Do I have to?” people ask me every day. “Yes,” I answer.

Any comments ? But that party line is so often inadequate, and the longer I do this work, the less comfortable I am with being asked to judge or absolve other people for their choices. There are friends in my life who don’t disclose their STI to sexual partners. Because when people tell their partners, and those partners go and get tested and treated and then go tell their own partners, you end up spreading sort of communication and cure back along the lines of disease transmission. It is the result of trauma from past abuse, and of fear of further abuse. If you got herpes because you were sexually assaulted, it’s not a fun conversation to have. Get tested.

Morality is blurry and dangerous and I wish I could tell her no, just leave. Just run. This idea has it’s advantages and disadvantages. There’s a new essay on Cosmopolitan written by a woman who got genital herpes from a partner with oral herpes. He did not disclose to her, as he didn’t consider his cold sores “real herpes.” She is admittedly bitter, and her essay drips with pain and blame. And although this is another thread that I may start…I’ll mention it briefly since everyone seems so concerned about herpes. Her anger is valid, and the injustice of stigma should infuriate us.
The (Not So) Black and White Ethics of Herpes

It’s the essay I might have written two years ago, before the inbox full of life stories and the acceptance that comes with time. LADD: Sure. It’s not the most productive approach to fighting stigma. It’s also not safe. Few things on this Earth make me angrier than hearing from someone who got herpes from a partner who knew their status and didn’t disclose. Every single time, stories like this take me back to the same moment: sitting in the lobby of the library at Wesleyan and learning that my boyfriend was sleeping around. I wasn’t mad that he had enjoyed himself while we were on a break.

Give him/her time while still being in friendly company. I was furious because I knew—with painful, unsubstantiated clarity—that he hadn’t disclosed to these women. He couldn’t disclose to them, because he could barely say the words to himself. EVER SEEN WHAT HERPES CAN DO TO A BABY. The world was simultaneously silent and roaring with every adjective I could think of: reckless selfish violent disgusting awful unconscionable unconscionable unconscionable. I had never understood rage before, and I could feel it coursing through my body like adrenaline. Yeah, I think that is exactly right.

It didn’t matter at all. There was right and there was wrong. There was respect and there was abuse. There was consent and there was not. For the first six months that I had herpes, I thought I had given it to him. Hirsch suggests you tell at your place rather than theirs, because that way they can get up and leave if they feel uncomfortable and need time to be alone and think. There was no proof, just my own slick guilt and the fact that it fit a story we’d both been told growing up.

I was that kind of girl. Its a chance we take every time we have sex unfortunately. It was that kind of relationship. Blaming me helped him feel better; it made it not his fault. Let’s say, you know, a gal comes into the office. We both hated me because it seemed fair. I thought about that too, in the lobby of the library, surrounded by the detritus of my life.

Suing never crossed my mind—back then I didn’t know you could sue for this, but no amount of money would make that hurt feel better anyway. I needed him out of my life. A journalist asked me a few weeks ago if I had any advice for women struggling with forgiving whoever gave them herpes. Don’t panic if they don’t take the news well at first! I’m okay now because I made more of an effort to surround myself with people who care for me. Anger can keep you going but it can also hold you back—it helped me leave an unsafe relationship but did nothing to help me heal. What I needed wasn’t justice, it was to move on.

If you want to tell your partner that you have an STI, here is my advice on how. If you want to tell a partner you’ve already slept with, this video by The Sex Uneducated might be useful. So, they might not know that Chlamydia is an STD.

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