A Practical Approach to Living with Herpes

Guidance and Direction for people living with genital herpes

A diagnosis of genital herpes often comes as a shock. Many people do not feel comfortable talking about sexuality and sexual health issues and are sometimes afraid of things that they have limited knowledge or understanding of, such as herpes.

There are many avenues for help, reassurance and guidance. Below are resources that can offer help and support for people living with and affected by herpes:

Counseling for Herpes

Adequate information about genital herpes and the implications for the future are an important part of clinical management and treatment. Counseling offers a way of dealing with your concerns.

If you or your partner are finding it hard to come to terms with the news, need advice, guidance for the future, or just need to talk with someone a medical expert or counselor can help give you some direction.

Encourage yourself or your partner to speak with a medical expert or counselor.
The experience and support of other people with herpes can be extremely valuable. Just talking to someone else going through the same thing can help you put things into perspective.

Local Support groups for people with herpes exist in some countries and have the objective of providing support and education to people with herpes.

For anyone who feels isolated by genital herpes, self-help groups can provide a much-needed arena for open discussion and the exchange of information and ideas.

Getting the facts

The more emotionally charged an issue, the more important it is to find out the facts. Most people know little or nothing about herpes. Frequently, what knowledge they have is colored by myth and misconception.

Having the correct information makes it easier for everyone concerned. Genital herpes is extremely common. In some countries, up to one in five people are infected with this virus, whether they know it or not.

Some basic facts that you should know:

  • HSV can be passed on when one person has the virus present on the skin or mucous membrane and another person makes direct skin-to-skin contact with the live virus.
  • The virus is likely to be present on the skin from the first sign of prodrome (tingling or itching where the outbreak usually occurs), until the sores have completely healed and new skin is present.
  • There are likely to be certain periods of time (possibly only a few days out of the year) when the active virus might be on the skin, even though there are no obvious signs or symptoms.
  • Always using latex condoms may possibly reduce the risk of transmitting the virus at these times.
  • Herpes is very frequently transmitted by infected persons who do not know they are infected.
  • Once diagnosed, a person generally is able to take the simple precautions necessary to protect partners – avoiding contact during prodrome or an outbreak and practicing safer sex when no symptoms are present.

Attitude and Self Esteem

  • A positive attitude helps greatly, starting with a positive feeling towards oneself
  • It is important for individuals to have time and space so that they can learn about their strengths and develop them
  • For anyone who finds stress a particular problem or has trouble relaxing, there are specific techniques, such as meditation and courses on stress management, that can help.

Outbreaks and Recurrences

  • A person who experiences recurrent genital herpes should try to get to know the pattern of their outbreaks, and may discover the particular circumstances that trigger an episode and learn to avoid them
  • To gain relief from frequent recurrences check out our Herpes Treatment section. It has a list of different approaches that may speed healing and in some cases help to prevent recurrences.

What if my partner has genital herpes?

If your partner has genital herpes, your support may be very important in helping him or her deal with this condition, which can also directly affect you. When your partner goes back to the doctor, you may wish to go too, so that you can find out more about the infection.