"We learn to live with herpes, but it does not define us." - Ciara

Hi everyone, my name is Ciara, I am 22 and I have genital herpes, specially herpes simplex virus type 1. As many people know this virus is more commonly associated with oral herpes (cold sores).

I contracted and was diagnosed when I was 19, the week before I started college. I contracted it from boyfriend of 3 years through receiving oral sex. My boyfriend at time was my first boyfriend and the person I lost my virginity to, (and he lost his to me) so it was a huge shock when I got diagnosed.

When I got diagnosed I felt extremely alone and isolated, as stigma around STI is huge where I'm from. Honestly for me it was freephone helplines that kept me sane.

Even now 3 years later, my mental health does get affect when i experience outbreaks, but thats okay, cause I realise what its in relation too and I can mange it better.

Physically, I do still experience outbreaks about every two months. Its usually my bodies reaction to being run down or stress. My period also usually brings on an outbreak too. I know alot of people who have herpes maybe asymptomatic or have very rare outbreaks, but I'm not one of them. I do hope in time the outbreaks will be less frequent. A side affect for me is that when I'm about to get an outbreaks is that I get high temperature and sweat so much when I sleep. Which is annoying except when your waiting in the cold for a bus.

My dating life has had a dramatic change since I hot diagnosed since 2017. I am now single and have to disclose my HSV 1 status to anyone I might have sexual contact with. But in someways its a blessing in disguise. It makes me picker and I choose to open myself up to people who are open minded and that deserve me.

My advice to my past self or anyone newly diagnosed is LOVE YOURSELF.
You have contracted a very common virus, and it can make your life a little more awkward but thats manageable. We learn to live with herpes, but it does not define us. Its a permanent incurable virus, that will most likely be with us until we die, but we won't die from it. I am so proud of my beautiful sexy strong body that is resilient in coping with herpes simplex virus.

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