About the organiser of H Friends New Zealand

Hi, I'm Sue. Born and raised in England, I emigrated to NZ 11 years ago with my husband. The second I set foot here, I knew it was the home I'd always been searching for. And my life here in NZ has been (almost) all I could want. I have a loving husband, I’ve made several close friendships, my career has flourished (I'm a nurse specialist working with stroke patients), and I'm just about the graduate with my Masters. Life is good. So why am I writing this to you?

Well, it hasn't all been plain sailing. Never is, is it? My husband and I were separated for a year or so, and in that time I fell for someone. We dated, then had one of those on/off relationships for a while. Only problem being he had HSV2 and didn't know. Shortly after one of those reunions I came down with symptoms. Many people only have mild outbreaks, but as one doctor put it, I had a ‘humdinger’. I got the bad news New Year’s Eve 2014. It was not a Happy New Year!

Initially, it was a devastating blow – I felt like my future had been stolen from me. Worst of all I felt so isolated. But I was lucky on two counts. To start with one of the first people I told said: “me too”. They had never told anyone, kept it a closely hidden secret. Needless to say, we became the best of friends. Secondly, I had the good fortune to meet Jo, a woman the Foundation put me in touch with. She has lived with herpes for over 30 years and gave me a fresh, much more hopeful perspective on things. Talking with others who are ‘walking the walk’ makes a real difference – I know. That’s why I started this support group. So if you feel alone in this, you don’t need to be. 

About Us

New Zealand H Friends is a support and social group for those with genital herpes (HSV-1, HSV-2) living throughout Aotearoa. Our primary focus is to offer advice and empathy within a safe, confidential and non-judgemental forum. But we also aim to promote friendship and light relief! Current membership spans all age ranges and includes people at different stages of their H journey, many with a wealth of experience to share. We are fully inclusive and all are welcome.

The group is embedded within Meetup.com, and as such, the emphasis is on getting together within a relaxed social environment. However, the website does also provide a discussion board and secure messaging facility. So even if you don’t feel up to group gatherings we can see about offering one-on-one help where possible.

We have members throughout the country and aim to facilitate similar Meetups elsewhere. We have an assistant organiser in Wellington, and those from other regions wishing to start up locally are encouraged to approach us to discuss. We will do everything we can to guide you through the process. We eventually hope to create a collaborative H community spanning Aotearoa. Unfortunately, we are unable to extend our support to those based overseas.

Testimonials

'When I first heard about a support group for people with herpes I was less than enthused to be fair. The intimate nature of herpes meant I was uncomfortable enough talking about it with people I knew and I couldn't imagine talking about it with a room full of strangers, even if we were all in the same boat. Additionally, I was in a relationship at the time (with someone who didn't have it) and herpes didn't really feature much in my life, or so I thought. But I think I underestimated how alone in this I felt. Despite it apparently being so common I had only ever met one friend who had said, once told about it, "oh, me too." And no partners. So when I found myself single again and navigating the dating world once more, I decided to go along to one of the meetups. I didn't really know what to expect but it was such a relief to meet and to be able to talk freely with others who completely understand our situation. We ended up sharing stories, awkward moments, fears and insecurities, and unexpectedly, had some moments of huge laughter. I once found myself in a stressful dating situation and thankfully was able to call on Sue for support. I'd like to think I can repay the favour someday for someone else. All in all, I'm glad I went along that day.'

 – Steph.

 

'After being diagnosed with HSV2 I felt totally alone and resigned to keeping this shameful and distressing secret for the rest of my life. Months later I stumbled by chance on a MeetUp website and noticed to my surprise and delight this 'H Friends' MeetUp. The group has provided me support, empathy and understanding, and in a totally confidential environment. It has been such a relief to share and listen to others' stories, and learn coping strategies through being able to talk candidly with other members who face the same challenges.'

 – Linda.

NOTE: NZ H Friends support group is independent of, and not endorsed by, STIEF.