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The best way for couples to deal with herpes is to talk about it openly and make decisions together. There is no one, single approach that works best for all people, but here are some tips that can help make this easier.

It’s a two way conversation

By disclosing your infection to your partner you are taking an important step to reduce the transmission of genital herpes. By being aware and taking precautions, you can help reduce your partner’s risk as well. This conversation should be a two-way street, where you discuss your partner’s sexual health, and possible STIs, as well.

Keeping it in perspective

Your attitude will have a lot of influence on how the news is received by your partner. If you are positive and confident, it’s more likely your partner will adopt the same attitude. Try not to let the anticipation of a possible negative reaction affect the delivery of your message.

It is possible for the first recurrence to appear years after a person is infected with the herpes virus. Up to 80% of people with genital herpes do not realise they have the herpes infection, since the initial infection can be very mild that is passes unnoticed. This means that a recurrence of genital herpes can turn up unexpectedly in a long-term faithful relationship. Because of this, it is important to realise that genital herpes appearing may not be proof of infidelity.

Preparing to talk to your partner

Before you talk about herpes and sexual health with a partner, make sure you are prepared to address any misinformation or misconceptions he or she might have. Do you know what precautions to take to reduce the risk to your partner? Do you know the facts about herpes?

When to tell

While there isn’t a ‘best’ time to talk about herpes with a new partner, the discussion should ideally occur before any sexual activity has taken place.
Once you have established a degree of trust and feel ready to open the discussion with your partner, you might want to think about logical ways to approach the subject.

Remember that you’ll need privacy and uninterrupted time to devote your attention to this conversation.

How will a partner react?

Since genital herpes is common (affects 1 in 8 Australians over the age of 25 years) and many have heard about it, some partners may not be shocked or surprised and will appreciate your honesty and respect for the relationship and their wellbeing. However, keep in mind that some people may react negatively to the news.
Whatever happens, try to be flexible. Give your partner time to respond and absorb the information.

Most people will appreciate your honesty and maturity in addressing an important health issue.

If you want to find out more about herpes and its impact on relationships, speak to your doctor or visit your nearest sexual health clinic.