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Hi Alex,

I'm sorry to hear about both your diagnosis and about how difficult it is in your culture to have this. I'm not sure how to advise you about getting past your cultural problems, other than to say that if she loves you too then love can conquer a lot of problems.

Yes, her chances of getting it would be quite high, but not necessarily 100% guaranteed. Different people react differently to getting it. Some are more upset than others. If she got it, it could be difficult for her but again, if she loves you and is committed to you then she might feel it's worth it to be with you.

She'll have to get past the same cultural stigma as you are, though, and she might find this hard to do or fairly easy. It's hard for me to tell from here how she is likely to react. A lot depends on how open minded and daring she is in the rest of her life.

Here in North America a vast majority of people get cold sores around the mouth (caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus, usually HSV type-1; HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes), usually caught in childhood from non-sexual contact with family and friends. I don't know what the statistics are for Asian countries but I imagine they're similar.

One way you could talk to her about your herpes is to talk about whether she (or anyone she knows) ever gets cold sores. These don't usually have the same stigma, so it might be easier for her to be open minded if you describe yours like getting a cold sore on your genitals (which is true).

If she did get genital herpes from you, it's hard to say how bad it would be for her physically. Again, different people's bodies react in different ways. Some people (a majority, actually) never get outbreaks or get very mild ones. For a woman much can depend on where her outbreak sores are, since urine can make them sting a lot, but not all women get them in places where they'd be a problem like that.

The biggest risk would be if she contracted it from you while pregnant, in which case it could be a danger to the baby. Many doctors prescribe Valtrex (or other antiviral drug) in the final stages of pregnancy to reduce the risk to the baby. You could talk to your doctor about what is available where you are and what she or he would suggest in this case.

And if antiviral prescription drugs are available to you, taking these daily for suppression of outbreaks could decrease her chances of getting it from you, as could using a condom even when you don't have an outbreak. Unfortunately there's no way to guarantee she won't get it.

Although your culture might make it harder to be open with her about having herpes, I think your best bet is the same as in any culture -- learn about it so you can give her information about it; and when you tell her, try to be at peace about it, not warning her of something awful.

I believe we all have the right to be loved for who we are, not rejected because of our illness. It can be hard to really believe that inside, but we need to believe it ourselves if we want someone else to believe it too. Your own attitude about it will make a difference in how she handles it. It won't guarantee that she'll be accepting, but it will improve your chances of her accepting you.

You need to avoid all intimate contact before you tell her. That includes any skin-to-skin contact, like her touching your genitals or her giving you oral sex, as well as intercourse. Mouth-to-mouth kissing is fine though; there is no risk of her getting your genital herpes from doing that. I'm not sure how much intimacy is likely to happen between you two before marriage but it's something to keep in mind.

Good luck! I hope this helps. Please let us know how you do with this. :)


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