Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Ultimate Love Triangle
Herpes Ethics Question

In a love triangle? Ask Tila Tequila for help.

Dear Go-To Girl,
I'm sleeping with this girl who's an old friend of mine. We're keeping things casual. I have genital herpes; she knows. I take Valtrex and I haven't had an outbreak in ages. Here's the question: I know that the girl I'm seeing is also sleeping with another guy in our circle of friends. Am I obligated to tell him that I have herpes, since there's a possibility he might be at risk?

Dear Jerry,
You know how I feel about herpes.* So given that you 1) haven't had an outbreak in ages and 2) t his girl you're sleeping with knows you have herpes and 3) are taking Valtrex, I don't think you're obligated at all to tell dude # 2 that you have HSV. If anyone here is obligated to disclose, it's her.

Unless, of course, you're really hoping that he doesn't know how I feel about herpes* and will freak out and bail if you tell him, leaving you to have the girl all to yourself. In which case, I mean, all's fair in love and war. I guess.

But talking about herpes and the fact that you have it improves things for people who have herpes in general. Most people I know claim not to know anyone who has herpes when in fact some 75% of their friends are walking around with the HSV. So coming out of the closet really helps to destigmatize and de-other herpes infection. And, like I said, it's just not that big of a deal.

So consider carefully whether you want to scare this guy off, because you either will scare him or it will seem like you're trying to scare him, which will look like a huge cockblock. But ethically? Nah, don't tell him.


*In case you don't know how I feel about it, here's the lowdown: herpes is not a big deal. While genital herpes is the most stigmatized STI, it causes no problems other than physical discomfort and never progresses to anything more serious. Herpes isn't "curable" but anitviral meds (including Valtrex) are super effective at suppressing outbreaks and reducing transmission risk. So relax already. Read more about herpes here.

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