Thanks to Amanda for sharing this on the forums.
1. Tell them before you have sex with them, but wait until you're sure you like them enough to want to have sex
with them. After all, what's the point of telling someone right off the bat, before you're sure if the relationship is
going to go anywhere? (Warning: do NOT wait until you are in bed and/or fooling around to disclose: emotions and passions run high and people are not thinking clearly enough at this time to make an educated, rational decision. Remember, herpes is not a "bedtime story"!)
2. Tell them in a place where you have some privacy (i.e., your home, their home, or a park). A parked car is OK, but do not tell them while you or they are driving! Some people suggest that you tell at your partner's place because they will feel the most comfortable there. However, Dr. Hirsch suggests you tell at your place rather than theirs, because that way they can get up and leave if they feel uncomfortable and need time to be alone and think.
3. STAY CALM! If you get hysterical and start crying, they will pick up on your fear and it will have a negative effect on their perception of the virus.
4. Ask them if they've ever been tested for STDs, HIV, etc., or if they've ever had an STD. That will get THEM talking about it first, and will give you some insight on their STD background and attitude. You could also try bringing it up in the context of a "safe sex" talk. Ask them how they feel about safe sex, do they use condoms, etc. Tell them that safe sex is very important to you, because once you were "unlucky" and got an STD.
5. If possible, have some pamphlets or printed information on herpes to give them, so they can read it over later. ASHA has some excellent pamphlets called "Telling your partner about herpes" and "When your partner has herpes." (go to ashastd.org for pamphlet ordering info.)
6. After you tell them you have herpes, ask them "what do you know about it?" Again, it will get them talking and will take the pressure off of you. It will also help you understand what THEY know, so you know how much information you need to give them. (Odds are, even if they don't have it, they may have a friend who has it and
may know something about it.)
7. Ask them if they have any questions about it, and try to answer whatever questions they have as calmly and as honestly as you can. If they ask you something you don't know, tell them you don't know, but that the two of you can research it together. Recommend some websites they can look at when you're not around.
8. Don't panic if they don't take the news well at first! Some people need time to think about something like this. Some people might accept it right away, some might need time to think. Some might panic and reject you at first, but they may change their mind in a day or two (or a week or two)...you never know.