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How do I tell a new partner I have genital herpes?

Many single people with genital herpes struggle with when and how to tell a new partner that they have this common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Some worry that they will lead a partner on by not being honest from the start, while others all but assume they will be rejected if a partner learns they have herpes and, as a result, may avoid the issue for some time. Perhaps unfairly, those with oral herpes do not struggle with the same concerns, even though there is little difference between the two forms of herpes except for location.

For many, the right time to talk about genital herpes with a new partner is when you both feel ready to start a sexual relationship, or earlier if you are more comfortable bringing up the conversation well before you may begin a sexual relationship. In most cases, however, there’s no reason to share you have genital herpes, or any other particularly sensitive issue, too early in a relationship before you have had a chance to get to know each other and develop trust; it may be a moot point if a relationship doesn’t develop.

When you do decide to bring up herpes, keep the conversation relatively brief, offer to answer any questions, and say you’re willing to provide more information or go on the Web together to read about it. Reassure a partner that there are easy ways to reduce the chances of passing genital herpes to him or her -- with medication, safer sex practices, and abstinence before and during outbreaks.

Also, it’s important for those with genital herpes to take care of themselves, too. Make sure you feel safe and comfortable with someone, before you share that you have genital herpes and consider beginning a sexual relationship.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.