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More than 30% of sexually active adults in NZ have genital herpes.
Herpes simplex causes a viral skin condition known as cold sores (on face), whitlows (on fingers) or 'herpes' on genitals or other skin areas.
Around 80% of people infected with genital herpes don't know they have the herpes virus because they have very mild symptoms or none at all.
This site can help you understand and manage this common infection.
FACT: No, it is very common and anyone who has EVER had sex can get genital herpes. It's not about being clean, dirty, good or bad – it's about being normal and sexually active.
It's natural to be concerned about telling a new partner that you have genital herpes. Fear of being rejected and perhaps being uncomfortable about sexual health concerns makes it a tricky subject to bring up. However, it is more likely that your partner will respect your openness and honesty and it will be an opportunity to take your relationship to a deeper level of trust and understanding.
It's important to look after yourself when managing herpes. A healthy diet is certainly part of that. Some people with herpes have found that avoiding foods high in the amino acid arginine, may reduce herpes recurrences (genital herpes and cold sores).
Higher levels of arginine are found in foods such as chocolate and many types of nuts. Excessive coffee (caffeine), red wine and smoking are also triggers herpes for some people.
Herpes is not an infection that people can necessarily prevent themselves getting or passing on because most people are unaware they have it. So getting herpes is more a matter of learning about it and managing it.
However there are measures you can take to reduce the chances of getting herpes and protect yourself against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
It's natural to feel awkward or embarrassed when telling a new partner that you have genital herpes, this is normal! There are ways to make it easier to share this information, and in most cases, sharing it will lead to a deepening of trust in your new relationship.
Firstly, be as informed as you can about Genital Herpes.
You may want to rehearse what you say with a trusted friend or health professional first.
It is normal to feel upset and distressed as with any new diagnosis of a medical condition. Remember that herpes doesn't discriminate and you don't need to 'blame' yourself for what is actually a very common condition.
Make sure you have a follow up appointment with your doctor a week after your diagnosis. Ensure you are comfortable with the health provider you are using.
Oral antiviral medication is an effective treatment/management for problematic herpes simplex (oral or genital) and can improve your quality of life by providing a sense of control and physical and mental relief from experiencing recurrences of herpes.
Knowing about herpes simplex treatment options provides you with information to have an open and informed discussion with your doctor about what is best for you.
"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" – 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
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