Imagine sitting at dinner with your significant other. The conversation consists of some random news items, how their day went and general family stuff. Then the person gets serious and says they have something to discuss with you. If you’re a woman, your eyes may light up because you’re thinking, “Maybe he’s about to propose”, and if you’re a man, you may start to get nervous because you think she’s going to tell you she’s expecting. But neither of these happen. Your significant other tells you that he/she has ___________ . Insert any random incurable disease onto that blank line.

Now comes the awkward silence.

To put things in perspective, here’s a statistical breakdown on STDs in the United States:

  • Estimated number of Americans living with an STD: 65 million
  • Number of new cases of STDs every year: 19 million
  • Number of Americans who will get an STD in their lifetime: 1 in 4
  • Number of unsafe sexual contacts it takes to get an STD: 1
  • Number of Americans who have genital herpes: 45 million
  • Percentage of Americans who have herpes and do not know it: 35
  • Seconds it takes for a new person gets genital herpes: 30
  • Number of people living with HIV/AIDS in America: 468,578
  • Percentage of those people who are African-American: 44
  • Number of people living with HIV who have not been diagnosed: 1 in 5
  • Maximum number of days it takes to detect HIV with a DNA by PCR test: 28
  • Estimated total number of cases of Chlamydia each year: 4,000,000
  • Percentage of women living with Chlamydia who do not know it: 75
  • Estimated cost of Chlamydia complications in the U.S. each year: $2,000,000,000
  • Average cost of antibiotic to treat a case of Chlamydia: $15
  • Percentage of people who have gonorrhea in the throat and do not know it: 90
  • Percentage of people who have syphilis, do not know it, and develop complications years later: 33
  • Estimated increased risk of acquiring HIV if infected with syphilis: 5 times
  • Percentage of IV drug users who are infected with Hepatitis B: 30
  • Percentage of IV drug users who are infected with Hepatitis C: 85
  • Percentage of straight men and women who have had sex with more than 5 people in the last 6 months who have Hepatitis B: 21
  • Number of people out of 100 infected with Hepatitis C who will develop chronic infection: 80

That’s a lot of STDs.

For the record, some STDs are more communicable than others and all of them can be transmitted even when a person has no symptoms. What do you do? What exactly do you say? I?ve never been in that situation, so I can’t imagine how I would react. I guess a person would have to take into account the disease. But is there an incurable disease that is better than another? For example, if one incurable disease doesn?t have the ability to kill you, are you willing to deal with it? But perhaps it?s something potentially life threatening, what do you do then?

If a significant other informed you they had an incurable STD, what would you do?

  • luvlife289

    REALTALK People! I’ve wondered the same thing…

    I don’t hink I could do it..hm

  • OSHH

    People need to disclose that information EARLY and definately before anything sexual goes down. Half the population has herpes, so if people are honest about and managing it, being responsible, taking supression meds etc then I don’t think it would be a deal breaker per say. In an ideal world you would not want to deal with any threat of STD’s but that is not the world we live in and chances are people have already been with folk that had STD’s knowingly or unknowingly. It’s the honesty and taking care of one’s self and being responsible and practicing safe sex that is key.

  • http://gravatar.com/lovegiraffes onegirl

    I just recently got a cold sore for the first time, which is Herpes Simplex Virus 1, and NOT genital herpes. I was freaking out and wondering how I got it (one will never know). It was bad enough having my coworkers see my cold sore, and knowing it was a type of herpes. I can’t imagine what I would do if I had to share with someone that I had an STD.

    And OSHH, when you say half the population has herpes, that is not true. The statistic from the article said that 45 million has GENITAL Herpes (which is not half of the population). HSV1 is more common, but I don’t know that it’s half the population either. I’d have to look it up. Yes, people need to be upfront, or ask if you are unsure and want to be sure.

  • MK

    that is tough. I don’t what I would do. I think it all depends, if he got it before me or during me

  • African Mami

    eh, since my comment is being imprisoned, I said that I would FAINT! This is equivalent to telling me somebody is dead.

  • OSHH

    I read a stat that stated half of the black pop has it so….. point being it’s not at all uncommon.

  • Starla

    @OneGirl. This is the exact reason I do not share glass/cups, or spoons/forks with anybody. Some folks think I am scornful or think I am better than them, which is not true. We have to think twice about sharing straws, lipsticks and forks with others. Next thing you end up with a cold sore or something worse.

  • lol

    LINK PLEASE.

    if it is the same stat i read ,the statistic stated that in a certain year about 40% of all the people that tested positive for Herpes were AA women. THAT IS NOT THE SAME AS 40% of all black women have Herpes. i know that a lot of black men spout the latter around because they read the first but did not comprehend correctly because they were so blinded by hate but those 2 statements are not the same,for example

    correct : 90% of all rapists are male
    incorrect : 90% of all males are rapists

    see the difference?

    you can’t interchange the 2.

    but yes i agree, it’s not at all uncommon.

  • sasha

    children GET cold SORES lol, down the 5 years old, VIRGINS get cold sores…it’s not an STD….but it can be transfered by ANY CONTACT sexual or not (drinking). But i get u

  • sasha

    children get it too:(

  • http://gravatar.com/lovegiraffes onegirl

    @sasha,
    Yes, I know. They have HSV-1, not GENITAL herpes. That’s what i was clarifying to oshh. Talking in general terms when it comes to herpes can be misleading.

  • Downsouth Transplant

    @ African Mami I hear ya, not sure what the appropriate reaction should be other than hope I am sitting down not to pass out, that is the time those sex ed classes of 5th grade start coming to mind, dunno i hope not to hear it though

  • millz

    Whether its oral herpes or genital its herpes. You can still spread it. STDs are very common and most don’t know they are infected. in order to get an accurate diagnosis for herpes you must get a blood test. Ladies pap exams don’t test for majority of Std including herpes. Know your status before your quick to judge and make assumptions.

  • Mo

    There are 13 comments on this page, and no one realizes that out of that number: 3.5 of you will have or already have an STD.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    um, we could cut back on the sexual activities……just sayin

  • lol

    surprising comment given your usual comments on here…

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    maybe you should go back and read my comments again..

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Bingo! And people need to be control of their health by getting tested and asking doctors to do proper testing and the right questions there are so many people who are unaware of their health because they are either scare, don’t go to the doctor, or sadly don’t want to know so it continues to spread. Nobody is in charge of your health but you.

  • Apple

    Ah yes but If you blow your boyfriend with that hsv-1 you will give him genital herpes

  • not ashamed

    when i was first diagnosed with genital herpes, i thought my life was over. no more dating, definitely no more sex, no one who would touch me with a 10-foot pole. but i was wrong. for starters, i learned as much as i could about this “illness” – what could trigger outbreaks, how my physical health could affect it (if I’m really tired and worn down), and how to protect myself and others. i take my meds everyday, i stay in shape, and most importantly, i get enough rest. after i got over the initial shock of having this incurable illness (about a year), i was emotionally ready to get back out there. that’s what no one tells you. the physical aspect of herpes is nothing. seriously, i have one outbreak once per year that lasts for 3-4 days. but emotionally, you feel scarred and scared, leperish. long story short, i had a great boyfriend who understood my situation (and yes, we had great protected, monogamous sex) and loved me. the reasons we broke up ultimately after 18 months had nothing to do with my diagnosis. i try to be upfront with guys and surprisingly, it has not bothered any of them. herpes sounds scary, but if you take care of yourself and present it in a way that shows you have accepted it, most often guys will follow suit. if you’re freaked out, unconfident, and worried, they will be too. of course i’d rather not have this, but as far as incurable diseases go, it’s not bad :)

  • http://ladyngo.blogspot.com Lady Ngo

    Herpes is herpes. whether its on your face or on your genitalia. Whether you were born with it, got it from sharing a straw (if thats possible) or got it from oral relations with an infected partner.

  • Kacey

    Form the CDC:

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/hsv2pressrelease.html

    To summarize: “The study finds that women and blacks were most likely to be infected. HSV-2 prevalence was nearly twice as high among women (20.9 percent) than men (11.5 percent), and was more than three times higher among blacks (39.2 percent) than whites (12.3 percent). The most affected group was black women, with a prevalence rate of 48 percent.”

  • chinaza

    Incurable also relates to HPV (genital warts, cervical cancer) and HIV so don’t limit your thinking to HSV.
    What would I do? It would certainly come from him so I would leave him because of his dishonesty and disregard for my life.

  • justanotheropinion

    Thank you for your honesty & reality of the situation. Sounds like you have a handle on it.

  • Hushpuppies

    I’m currently dating someone with herpes simplex 2. He was honest with me and told me after dating for two months when I asked him why we weren’t having sex. I thought he was trying to friend-zone me! Turns out he was just waiting for the right time for a discussion on that topic. He’s going on anti-virals. Anti-virals + condoms= a slim chance that I will get herpes. I was upset at first, but research and talking to him AND my gyno about it made me feel better. Haha it also helps that he has an amazing personality. If he was an inconsiderate jerk and ALSO had herpes then I would tell him to kick rocks.

  • luvlife289

    reread my answer…didn’t see mistakes!
    I meant I couldn’t stay in the relationship…

    But it is scary and sad because there are real ppl dealing w/ STDs on a day2day basis. And the reality ‘is what it is’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/X23sexy Wong Chia Chi

    That blood test isn’t accurate which is why it’s not included in routine STD testing. The only way they can tell if you have herpes is if you have an outbreak and come in with a sore to show your gynecologist. That’s the only way they know.

  • Brooke

    She will actually give him HSV-1 in his gential area… still wouldn’t be genitial herpes.

  • Starla

    Children get it Sasha because people kiss their children on the lips. Considering the things mommy and daddy do with their mouths they should not be kissing their children/babies on the lips. Also, many parents allow relatives and friends to kiss their children on the lips. And of the course the other things I listed in my previous comment.

  • http://gravatar.com/ebony82 ebony82

    There are two different types of Herpes: the one that is called a “cold sore” and the other one which is genital herpes. They are NOT the same. I have had cold sores on a frequent basis throughout my life. However, I have not experienced one for approximately two-three years because I follow a strict skin care regimen (face wash, toner, topical ointment/cream, face moisturizer and occasional face mask).

  • CanV

    I’m sorry, I can’t do it. I just can’t. This article scared the crap out of me. I have been decent about getting tested, limiting my partners, etc.

    After reading this article, it is time to get tested again.

  • Oven Mitt Romney

    @ KAcey

    Don’t believe everything the CDC puts out. They are always releasing negative reports on minorities, especially AAs. Their job is to sway the public into thinking we are the nastiest, filthiest, most diseased people who are irresponsible and don’t use protection. Why else do you NEVER hear reports about whites, they they don’t use protection just as much as any other race? They also only have ACCESS to public records and not private records. Keep that in mind.

  • millz

    Oral cold scores is still herpes. its ok 80% of people have oral herpes. I am sick of how we stigmatize people wit stds. this is the reason most people are not honest about their sexual health or their sexuality. Majority of people have or had an std and some people refuse to get tested this perpetuates the spreading of HPV, herpes, and HIV.

  • MedEducate

    Im so glad I came across this article. And I really appreciate the earlier reply by Not Ashamed. I also have HSV-2 , which I caught from my fiance at the time of 5 years. That relationship was only my 2nd sexual partner at the time. Our relationship did not work out (for other reasons) and it was until after we broke up that I learned that I was infected with HSV-2 from him.
    Although it’s helpful to have articles like this that provide facts about STDs…its also articles like these that can make one who is dealing with an STD feel like a leper. I have been dealing with HSV-2 for 6 years now. At 1st I was devastated, but this is what I have to deal with now. So I went to my doctor and became educated about the virus. The best advice my doctors told me is that you CAN live a normal life, have a normal relationship, a normal sex life, you can have a family, you can have Kids!! Since knowing my status, I have become aware of my symptoms, I take medication before I feel like I may have an outbreak, I use protection during intercourse, if I feel sick or if I feel my immune system is low I do not have sex and most important I am honest with my partners. My 1st episode (6yrs ago) was hard (basically b/c I didn’t know what it was at the time and I had no medication). Since then I have had 1 to None outbreaks per year. While knowing my status I have been in 2 long-term relationships…one for 1 1/2 yrs and the other for about 4 yrs. Both partners were aware of my status before we had sex. Im so thankful for their maturity and accepting me with the virus. Because I was aware of my status, had safe sex, took my medication, both partners have been tested while we were in a relationship and they are both negative. However, that is just MY situation and I Do Not represent everyone who has HSV-1 or HSV-2. So please Get Tested, Use Protection, and Be Honest about your status!
    Yes, HSV-1(a.k.a cold sore) and HSV-2 are different in terms of the location in which they effect but both are members of the herpes virus family. I could go into detail about the scientific background of both but that would be a whole another article. The same type of medications are given to both patients that have the virus. HSV-1 is usually acquired orally during childhood, but may also be sexually transmitted. HSV-2 is primarily a sexually transmitted infection and can be contracted during birth but rare.
    Everyone talks about the stigma of HSV-2, but years ago HSV-1 (a.k.a Cold Sore) endured the exact same stigma. Some facts some don’t know about HSV-1 is that it is usually mild, especially when it infects the lips or face. However, in some cases type 1 (cold sore) can recur spontaneously in the eye, causing ocular herpes, a potentially serious infection which can lead to blindness. In very rare cases HSV- 1 (cold sore) can spread spontaneously to the brain, causing herpes encephalitis. By comparison, HSV-2 can affect all backgrounds, income levels, and ethnic groups. Like HSV-1, type 2 is usually mild – so mild that two thirds of infected people don’t even know they have it. Type 2 rarely causes complications or spreads to other parts of the body. It maybe the cause of neonatal herpes, a rare infection in newborns if you are pregnant during your primary infection (1st time infection).
    Although both HSV-2 and HSV-1 are incurable, they are not life threatening.
    HSV-2 virus is less a medical problem than a social problem. Keep in mind you can have a relationship, a sex life and kids with HSV. This is why it is so important to educate yourself beyond just reading the numerical statistics. Please Stop the Stigma, Please Use Protection & Get Educated!
    The following I think are good links to also refer to about additional information about HSV2 and HSV-1:

    The Good and the Bad Virus- The Truth about HSV-1 and HSV-2.
    http://www.herpes.com/hsv1-2.html

    Herpes during Pregnancy:
    http://www.babycenter.com/0_herpes-during-pregnancy_1360877.bc

  • MedEducate

    Im so glad I came across this article. And I really appreciate the earlier reply by Not Ashamed. I also have HSV-2 , which I caught from my fiance at the time of 5 years. That relationship was only my 2nd sexual partner at the time. Our relationship did not work out (for other reasons) and it was until after we broke up that I learned that I was infected with HSV-2 from him.
    Although it’s helpful to have articles like this that provide facts about STDs…its also articles like these that can make one who is dealing with an STD feel like a leper. I have been dealing with HSV-2 for 6 years now. At 1st I was devastated, but this is what I have to deal with now. So I went to my doctor and became educated about the virus. The best advice my doctors told me is that you CAN live a normal life, have a normal relationship, a normal sex life, you can have a family, you can have Kids!! Since knowing my status, I have become aware of my symptoms, I take medication before I feel like I may have an outbreak, I use protection during intercourse, if I feel sick or if I feel my immune system is low I do not have sex and most important I am honest with my partners. My 1st episode (6yrs ago) was hard (basically b/c I didn’t know what it was at the time and I had no medication). Since then I have had 1 to None outbreaks per year. While knowing my status I have been in 2 long-term relationships…one for 1 1/2 yrs and the other for about 4 yrs. Both partners were aware of my status before we had sex. Im so thankful for their maturity and accepting me with the virus. Because I was aware of my status, had safe sex, took my medication, both partners have been tested while we were in a relationship and they are both negative. However, that is just MY situation and I Do Not represent everyone who has HSV-1 or HSV-2. So please Get Tested, Use Protection, and Be Honest about your status!

  • Tester

    As someone with HPV I have to say it really hasn’t effected my sex life at all. It came from my current partner who contracted it from a previous partner. Getting an STI does not always mean infidelity, it can take months or even years for someone to develop signs or symptoms. Testing for most STI’s does not test for the actual virus or bacteria but the antibodies the body builds in response to it which the body can take several months to build up. Most people contact oral herpes or HPV at some point in there lives with HPV usually only lasting up to two years. HIV has also come a long way in terms of protecting against transmission of the virus. It is also another STI that is contracted in non-sexual ways. However consistent, perfect use of barrier method protection as well as regular use of lube can reduce your risk of contracting HIV from an HIV positive partner

  • Humanista

    Don’t forget, there isn’t a way for men to get tested for HPV, so I doubt them having it and not knowing it means that they have no regard for your life. Everything else, of course.

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