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You have the opportunity to be open-minded about this. When we take that away, we stop freaking out.” Herpes is contracted through skin-to-skin contact and through sexual contact, including oral, anal, and vaginal.
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That’s a lot to parse, but boil it down to this: far more than 1 in 6 Americans between the age of 14 and 49 have HSV-2.
1 in 6 means that if you’ve had three sexual partners in your life, then there’s a chance that one of them has had herpes and an even greater chance that one of them has had a partner with herpes.
What’s unique about this situation is that one of you knows and is talking about it openly. The shaming of the “unclean” and the fear loom far larger than the actual health risks to the population. That two people might hook up–be it a third date or a long committed relationship–and one or both of them has herpes and doesn’t know it is hardly far fetched.
We have a long tradition of shaming, ridicule, and misconception to thank for that. According to the CDC, most herpes transmissions occur when the infected person shows no symptoms and may not even know they are infected. After all, isn’t this essentially what just happened to you? “Unless you actually have reason to suspect they're cheating, a herpes diagnosis in the middle of a relationship does not mean they have been cheating.” Jenelle Marie Davis, the founder of The STD Project, explained to Primer.