Even after his friends hype him up, Jamin Peckham still backs out sometimes. It’s not that he’s shy or insecure about his looks. Instead, what keeps this 27-year-old from approaching the cute girl across the room is a set of hypotheticals that most people don’t deal with.
“My mind runs ahead to ‘the disclosure talk’ and then all the way down to, ‘What if we have sex and what if I give it to her?’” said Peckham, an IT professional who lives in Austin, Texas.
Peckham has had genital herpes for six years now and got it from an ex-girlfriend who didn’t know she had it. He hasn’t been in a relationship with any girls since his diagnosis, though he’s been rejected by a few girls who asked to be friends after hearing about his condition. Due to this, Peckham said that he has to work harder than ever to secure a romantic relationship.
Some think of people like Peckham as immoral, assuming only people who sleep around get genital herpes. The stigma of the virus, which exists at the heart of this faulty mindset, is usually worse than the symptoms themselves, as it affects dating, social life and psychological health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one out of six people in the United States aged 14 to 49 have genital herpes caused by the HSV-2 infection (the herpes simplex virus often responsible for genital herpes). The overall genital herpes statistic is probably higher, the CDC stated, since many people are also contracting genital herpes through oral sex caused by HSV-1 (the kind of herpes usually responsible for cold sores). Taking that into account, genital herpes statistics are usually quoted at closer to 25 percent for women and 10 percent for men, but most of these people don’t even know they have it.