Dear Annie: I contracted genital herpes 35 years ago when a sex partner failed to tell me he had this virus. Over time, outbreaks became shorter, less frequent and virtually painless. Based on talks with others with GH, this is typical of the virus’ progression. Most claim that the worst thing about having GH is confessing this to a prospective sex partner. I did this recently.

“Kenny” and I dated briefly 44 years ago, and then parted to lead separate lives while on active duty. He called me out of the blue last summer, and we began talking and texting every day. We believed we had a lot in common and might someday be together. He regularly expressed his affection for me and often told me how happy he was that we have reconnected.

I was amazed and grateful. I really believed I’d found a man who was so happy to have me in his life again that he’d stay with me through thick and thin. Wrong.

During a talk about our childhood viral diseases, I made the excruciatingly difficult decision to tell him I had GH. His response was, “Oh, wow.” Then silence, followed by a change of subject. We hung up, and he has not called me or answered my calls since. I am so broken-hearted. Kenny effectively told me that my having GH negated every single good quality that he saw in me.

So Annie, what do you say to people like me who do the right thing and to people like Kenny who are on the receiving end of this news?

 — Rejected

Dear Rejected: To those on the receiving end of this news, I’d say keep an open mind. HSV-2 is more common than you’d think. In the United States, more than 1 in 6 people between the ages of 14 and 49 have genital herpes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HSV-1 (which causes oral herpes) is even more prevalent, infecting around two-thirds of the global population, according to the World Health Organization. There are many ways to have a safe and fulfilling sex life despite a herpes diagnosis.

To those who have been rejected after sharing their status with a potential partner, I’d say chin up. Having this STD is not exceptional; having the moral fortitude to disclose it is. When you meet someone who can appreciate this, you’ll know you’ve found a good one.

To find a testing center near you, visit, click “Prevention”; then click “Which STD Tests Should I Get?”

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