I haven't discussed this in a long while, probably over a year, so it'll be news to my newer readers as well as a Public Service Announcement for others.
I guess I'm practicing. The reason I am broaching the subject now is because I need to have The Talk with my Indian friend tomorrow night. She's invited me to go away. She stated herself that she realizes the intentions that implies. It's forcing my hand, though, to tell her that I have herpes. I can't accept her kind offer (which she even later said it'd be her treat) without me being honest.
I've had it for 25 years, since my Senior year of college, and it is something I am always honest about, but there is always a timing consideration. If dating isn't going to lead to sex or anything else, I have no need to tell, although some people tell on or before the first date. If it looks like it's going that direction, I have to tell and I must do it in advance. It is not a good horizontal confession made during the heat of battle.
There are several factors at play. Approximately 25% of the population has herpes. The thing is that 90% of them don't know it or they pretend to not know that ingrown hair which keeps coming up must be something else. People are lucky with me in that I know it and will talk about it.
With so many people having herpes, there's always the chance that I'll get a, "Me, too!" in response. With the people who don't know they have it, it gets trickier. It is important for anyone with herpes who is going to engage in sex with a person of unknown status to have that person get tested; about 23% of the time the result will be positive. Remember, a routine STD panel does not test for herpes, so you have to specifically ask for it and that's a contributing factor to people not knowing. With these safe guards in place, though, the person cannot blame the new sexual partner for something that was pre-existing if an outbreak occurs. Further, fears about transmission are unfounded if positive.
With condoms and Valtrex, there is only a 1% transmission rate and it's seen as practically a cure. I, myself, prefer dating in the herpes community so I don't have to worry either about The Talk or potential transmission. Several men I've dated treated me different as sexual partners and that is insulting; one man even told me after we'd dated, "Cricket, I would have married you, if not for the herpes." Funny, I wouldn't have married any of them. I am much more a person than a silly rash.
Herpes is a skin virus. It has this strange stigma that is undeserved. It doesn't mean I'm dirty or promiscuous. It means I caught a virus, like a cold, that chose to live in a ganglion instead of going away. If you're interested in reading more, Good Virus Bad Virus is a good place to start. Just playing percentages, a hand full of my regular readers have it, whether they know it or not.