Name: Emma 
Age: 18
Occupation: College student 
Year Infected: Recently (Jan. 2002) 
Prodromes: A few painless blisters, one very painful blister 
Method of control: Valtrex, L-Lysine, Echinacea, Acyclovir Topical Ointment
My Story: I have never had sex and never considered oral sex to be that 
risky. So a few weeks ago, my boyfriend performed oral sex on me (he is one 
of just two people in my life I have done this with) and I didn't think 
anything of it. He is a straightforward, sweet guy who had never had oral 
sex with any girl before me (I know he might be lying, but I doubt it); the 
doctors think he got herpes from kissing a girl with a cold sore. So a few 
days after this, I started feeling achy and then one day I noticed I had some 
sort of cut or blister, and it began to hurt so much I couldn't touch it. I 
didn't know where it came from; I assumed that I had been itching myself a 
little too much or it was just some kind of infection that would go away. 
The next night, I couldn't sleep - I remember waking up at 2 in the morning 
because the cut hurt so badly, saying "this hurts so much! What's wrong with 
me? Why does this hurt so much?"

 A few days later I made an appointment 
with my doctor, who is the most amazing and supportive women I have ever met, 
and she examined me. "What's wrong?" I asked her when she was done, and she 
said that she was going to have another doctor examine me as well so she 
could get a second opinion. So another woman doctor, also very nice, came in 
and examined me, and said casually "it looks like it's herpetic" and of 
course I froze, thinking "herpetic? But that means...." and my doctor sent 
me to a specialist who affirmed that I did indeed have herpes. I was 
stunned, and angry, and most of all thinking how unfair it was that I was a 
virgin and yet I had an STD. So unfair. The specialist wasn't very helpful. 
Overly forthright and somewhat cold, I asked her a number of questions about 
the virus, and she unhelpfully provided concise answers. Example: "is there 
a cure for herpes?" Her answer: "no." Just "no." I felt she could have 
eased the answer with something like, "they're working very hard currently to 
find one, and are hopeful." But I have a feeling that's how most doctors are 
when dealing with STDs, since we do live in a society where talking about 
STDs is taboo, and if you do have some kind of STD (and most people do have 
one or another) you're wrongly considered a dirty, promiscuous freak.

My real doctor has been amazing about this. She told me not to take this too 
seriously, and that I need to live my life the way I had before. Obviously I 
will talk to the men I want to have sex with about my herpes (I'm dreading 
that moment quite a bit, since I don't know if I want to risk giving someone 
the infection), but aside from that, my doctor told me I can make out and do 
other things with guys I meet. I admit that when I had to tell my boyfriend 
I broke down, and cried my eyes out, and I think about this more than I'd 
like to. Also, I've only told two people besides my boyfriend, and when I'm 
with friends who don't know I have this, I can feel so stifled and secretive, 
and so envious of them for not having what I have (but who knows, maybe they 
do and are just being secretive like me).

But I'm determined that this isn't going to alter my lifestyle. I feel 
outraged at times that I have this at such a young age, and before I've even 
had sex, and it's hard to be convinced sometimes that I am still the same 
person even if I have an STD. But it'll be okay.