that talk
May 4, 2013 2:33 PM   Subscribe

I've got herpes. There's a 99% chance he gave it to me. How best to tell him?

So. yeah. Too much to drink + no condom = incurable disease. I had unprotected sex 8 days ago, saw a doc four days ago and found out today I tested positive for herpes. I've never had an outbreak before so I want to tell the dude he should get himself tested.

Complications:

We don't really know each other that well (as these things often go). Thanks to some fairly intense Internet stalking, I managed to wrangle his email.

I would like to email him to discuss in person but I also want to respect the fact that he may prefer not to have that kind of sit down conversation (we're both early 20s). FWIW I am pretty okay/calm with this news and I've done my research so I'd partly like to discuss in person so he doesn't freak out or feel like a social pariah.

I'm thinking something along the lines of "hey, I need to talk to you about something and I'd prefer to do it in person but I can email you/call if you'd like."If you have been in this situation, either delivering the news or receiving it, how would you phrase this email? I also worry about sharing mine/his medical history via email--legit concern? There's not really a good way to do this but what is the least awful?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
 
Do you have his phone number? I think that's probably the very best way to start, because the email will get his mind racing, and I think this is the kind of conversation that has to happen quickly so that you can both remain as calm as possible.
posted by xingcat at 2:37 PM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was told that herpes can't incubate that quickly. Are you sure it couldn't be from a prior partner?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 2:40 PM on May 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just email him right now with the info. He either gave you herpes or you may have transmitted herpes to him. He needs to
Know ASAP before he gives it to another person!!!
posted by discopolo at 2:43 PM on May 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'd partly like to discuss in person so he doesn't freak out or feel like a social pariah.

Honestly, he gets to feel the way he gets to feel. He just needs to be told as soon as possible. It's not fair to him for you to control his reaction. He's a grown man who had unprotected sex and you are not his mom or his girlfriend.

Time is important. He may have had sex with several other people since you already.
posted by discopolo at 2:47 PM on May 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yeah, you want to call/email him and tell him right away. Like, right now as you are reading this. This is a public health issue. Protecting his health and the health of the people around him has to take priority over any well-intentioned desire to take time and do it in the least awful way possible. You need to tell him right now.
posted by Jairus at 2:54 PM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was told that herpes can't incubate that quickly. Are you sure it couldn't be from a prior partner?

It can: "The incubation period-the time from exposure to genital herpes until the primary outbreak of infection-is generally 2 to 14 days."

Either way, the guy needs to get the news, however you deliver it to him. And please (as uncomfortable as it may be) notify any prior partners you've had. You're 99% sure it came from this guy, but not 100%. It's not a fun phone call to make, but you can say, "Hey, I know this is awkward, and I'm 99% sure that I didn't have it when I was with you, but I recently tested positive for an STD and you should get tested."

No one HOPES to get herpes, but your life isn't over. Good luck!
posted by AlisonM at 2:58 PM on May 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


No one HOPES to get herpes, but your life isn't over.

Perhaps you can include some information (e.g., links to credible websites) regarding living with herpes.

You have a lot of company. IIRC, it's estimated that about 20% of the US population test positive for herpes. Unfortunately, 85% of those folks are unaware that they carry the virus.
posted by she's not there at 3:07 PM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


partly like to discuss in person so he doesn't freak out or feel like a social pariah. I'm thinking something along the lines of "hey, I need to talk to you about something and I'd prefer to do it in person but I can email you/call if you'd like."

With that line, he's likely to think you are pregnant or that he can't shake you loose and you're angling for a date. Just tell him, and don't worry about controlling how he feels. If email is the only contact info you can find for him and he never offered another way to reach him, then do it via email.
posted by Houstonian at 3:43 PM on May 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


2nding contacting him immediately. Just make sure that the email you found is really his email.
posted by charmcityblues at 4:53 PM on May 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Call me paranoid but I would not email a near stranger anything that I wasn't comfortable having come out publicly, especially something potentially inflammatory like this. Send a no frills email and get him on the phone ASAP.
posted by telegraph at 4:55 PM on May 4, 2013 [16 favorites]


Oh man, do this in person or, at the least, on the phone. My rule of thumb: don't put anything in writing you're not comfortable the whole world knowing. Emails can always be forwarded, printed, saved, etc. Get him on the phone and have the conversation and don't fret over being gentle or breaking the news softly; you're both grown adults. Send him the email and then speak to him directly. Presuming you're female, if he thinks you're pregnant in the interim, imagine how relieved he'll be when you say it's not that!

But seriously, it doesn't have to be a conversation, just inform him that you tested positive and that he will probably want to be tested asap and then hang up. I'd resist saying that HE gave them to you; given what you've shared here, you can't be sure. So, just tell him you are sure that you have herpes and that he should know.

Good luck.
posted by absquatulate at 6:39 PM on May 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


If for some reason you absolutely cannot get his number or get him in person, does he have you on social media or anything? Or know your last name?

Because you could make an anonymous email account and just say "This is from that time we were together about 8 days ago." You don't have to include your name. But you may want to again, confirm it's his email.

He should know, and you previous partners should know or get checked too.

I had an HPV outbreak that did some cervical cell changes, so I let recent partners know that they should encourage their girlfriends and other girls to keep up on their annual exams.
posted by Crystalinne at 8:06 PM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Depending on where you are, there may be anonymous notification services like Don't Spread It or (in Australia) Let Them Know or Better to Know.
posted by gingerest at 2:56 AM on May 5, 2013


For him:

– If you want to speak with him, drop him an email. Keep it simple. "You need to go get checked out by a doctor. Call me if you want to discuss."

– If you want to protect your anonymity, do it from a throwaway email address. "We slept together, I now have herpes. You need to check yourself out. Good luck".
posted by nickrussell at 8:56 AM on May 5, 2013


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