There are many myths and misinformation about herpes. Everyone has preconceived ideas and images of how someone with herpes should look, act and feel. It was funny and we all believed it wouldn’t happen to us.

Let’s move on to the fact that the majority of people have herpes. HSV 1 is found in 2/3 of the population, which amounts to 3.7 billion people. HSV 2 affects 1/6 of those. This is a very common condition and it is sad that so much stigma surrounds it.

Let’s move on to the important things you should know about living with herpes.

1. Many people don’t know they have herpes.

Yep, it’s true. HSV-2 affects 1 in 6 people. 90% don’t even know they have it. This is a lot of people not being aware they have herpes. Most people don’t experience frequent outbreaks, and many are not symptomatic. They might have experienced a milder outbreak in the past but never had another one. Maybe it was under their belly button, and not on their genitals. Sometimes we get bumps or rashes and just shrug them off.

2. Although your outbreak will disappear, it will remain in your body.

Herpes is often believed to be a chronic condition. It seems like it doesn’t go away, and is always there. It’s not true. The virus usually clears up within a week. It does go away in about a week. However, the virus remains in your body and can cause further outbreaks throughout your life. This is very different from a bacterial infection, where you can get an antibiotic to clear it up.

3. This may have been going on for years before you get your first infection.

Herpes transmission takes between 2-14 days. Most people experience their first herpes outbreak within two weeks. It is common for someone to be infected with herpes a few weeks before their first outbreak. There have been many people who, after years of being in monogamy or celibacy, suddenly got their first herpes outbreak.

4. The STI panel does not include Herpes.

This is the most shocking thing. Ask to be tested for herpes when you go for an STD/STI test. The herpes test must be requested. You may be wondering why this is so. Herpes isn’t life-threatening and doesn’t cause other health problems. It can cause mental consequences. According to the medical community, if you don’t have any symptoms then it is not worth getting tested.

5. People with herpes can live normal lives, including sex.

This is my view the most important. When I was diagnosed in 2011 with herpes, I thought my life was over. I was skeptical that I would be able to achieve my goals, and that I would have to marry someone I wasn’t in love with. Herpes is a common condition, as I said earlier, the majority of people have it. You can live the life you want, and that includes sex. Do not be afraid to express your feelings and don’t feel inferior.

As I mentioned earlier, living with herpes and having it is normal. It’s okay. You will get through it. Knowing what herpes means and how to avoid it is one of the most important things that you can do. Google is the worst thing you could do. Do not do this – the images are horrifying. Eek! That’s why I created The Herpes Outbreak Toolkit. The videos walk you through the basics of herpes, how to prevent outbreaks, and how to tell a partner. This would have been a great resource to have when I was first diagnosed.