Herpes Story – Michael

Around, I think, mid 2007 I noticed a cut, kind of like a paper cut, on the shaft of my penis. I think it also hurt a bit when I peed. It was a bit itchy and tender but it soon cleared up and I thought no more about it. Until that point I had only slept with 2 women The second was a one night stand with a friend who was leaving in March 2007.

Anyway, at the end of 2007, I started going out with the love of my life – I’m still with her today. As we were both living abroad, there was a period when we were not together because she had to return home early. During that period, I developed what I would describe as something like a crater on the shaft of my penis. It wasn’t painful and it cleared up on its own. I was a bit concerned, but as my girlfriend was a virgin when we met, I didn’t think it could be a STI so I just kind of forgot about it.

Anyway, around August 2011 I read an article about herpes and I got scared because I thought that it sounded a bit like the symptoms I had experienced. I went to a STI clinic and was tested for everything that they can test for. Luckily everything came back negative, but unfortunately they can’t test for herpes. I have spoken to the nurses there and my own GP and both say that while it could have been herpes, they don’t think it was because there has been no re-occurrence and there was only one ulcer/crater, not lots of little blisters that joinged together. I also don’t recall having any secondary flu like symptoms. However, as it was so long ago my memory is a little foggy.

Neither the nurses nor doctor recommended the blood test because it doesn’t distinguish between oral or genital herpes. They have said that if I have been exposed to oral herpes (as is statistically likely, though I have never had a coldsore), the antibodies may appear in the test, making me fear genital herpes even more, even if I don’t have it.

The not knowing absolutely kills me. My girlfriend and I haven’t had full penetrative sex for around 3 years (for non STI reasons) but I adore her and want to marry her and raise a family, but don’t feel like I can do that without telling her about the symptoms I experienced.

However, I’m scared that if I tell her she’ll leave me, or feel like I’ve betrayed her somehow by not telling her. In addition, the weight of carrying this burden is really tough for me and I don’t want to make her feel the same way if she gets scared that perhaps she has it.

The nurses and doctor I have discussed this with have advised me not to tell her because I have nothing conclusive to tell her, and in their opinion they consider it unlikely that I do have herpes. However, I don’t think it’s fair to continue my relationship with my girlfriend without telling her.

That’s the main crux of my problem – I feel like a coward for not telling her, but then at other times I feel like I would be selfish if I told her because I may be scaring her for nothing, just to make myself feel better.

I love my girlfriend more than anything and don’t want to waste her time – if I tell her all of this and she doesn’t want to stay with me, I want to give her enough time to find someone else she can start a family with as we are both in our early 30s. I feel like I have to make some kind of decision because I am scared to touch her in case I infect her with this, though I don’t even know if I have it.

‘Dating The H* Bomb’ airs on ABC2 Sunday 4 November

If using a condom is tricky to bring up when your date gets hot and heavy, try dropping the ‘H*Bomb’ – admitting you have genital herpes. In Dating The H*Bomb, Heidi, Hector and Michael candidly share intimate stories about life with the incurable and taboo herpes virus, from the shock of diagnosis to the search for true love. Re-enacted with puppets, these everyday Australians reveal what it’s like to negotiate love, sex and relationships in the shadow of a disease that affects one in eight Australian adults.

Dating The H*Bomb will air on ABC2 (Channel 22) on Sunday November 4th at 9:30pm.

 Join us here on Sunday evening for a live chat session to share your thoughts on the documentary.

Dating The H*Bomb Poster

ABC are thrilled with the program and have created this trailer for the Opening Shot series. H*Bomb will be screening first up in this series on Sunday Nov 4.

[embedplusvideo height=”281″ width=”450″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/6xZUt_KKlJg?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=6xZUt_KKlJg&width=450&height=281&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep4705″ /]


As Seen on TV

I have been fortunate enough to be invited to talk on TV several times about what it is like to have herpes. To read more about my television experiences you can click on the links below:

Channel 7 – The Morning Show

Channel 10 – David and Kim


You may also find this article interesting: Genital herpes and film, TV, literature: a welcome guest star?


Coming Soon!

I have also consulted with the producers of the upcoming special on ABC2: Dating the H*Bomb, a Documentary and I am very excited to see what they have created. Don’t miss it!

Hot with H documentary update: Dating The H* Bomb

Dating The H*Bomb PosterTo those who have helped us,

Thank you for your generosity in sharing your story and experiences with us. This research was invaluable in helping us shape the documentary and to understand the impact the virus has. We could not have progressed so far without the inspirational stories that every person has shared.

In consultation with our broadcaster (ABC2) and co-financiers (Screen Australia), we selected three people to feature in the documentary whose stories were complementary and represented the scope of the subject. To protect everyone’s privacy, we made the creative decision to use puppets to represent our final interviewees. This has been a wonderful way to capture the heartfelt emotion of real voices without having to disclose the physical identities of our participants

The title of the film is now Dating The H*Bomb. Here’s a bit more about the show:

If using a condom is tricky to bring up when your date gets hot and heavy, try dropping the ‘H*Bomb’ – admitting you have genital herpes. In Dating The H*Bomb, Heidi, Hector and Michael candidly share intimate stories about life with the incurable and taboo herpes virus, from the shock of diagnosis to the search for true love. Re-enacted with puppets, these everyday Australians reveal what it’s like to negotiate love, sex and relationships in the shadow of a disease that affects one in eight Australian adults.

Dating The H*Bomb will air on ABC2 (Channel 22) on Sunday November 4th at 9:30pm. ABC are thrilled with the program and have created this trailer for the Opening Shot series. H*Bomb will be screening first up in this series on Sunday Nov 4th.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TaLM7VL6B4The film will also be screening at the Cockatoo Island Film Festival in Sydney this Thursday October 25th at 6pm. Please join us for the screening and a drink if you’re in Sydney or tell your friends to pop along. More details and tickets here:http://tix.cockatooislandfilmfestival.com/session3_ciff.asp?sn=Dating+the+H-Bomb

We have also created a facebook page to share some behind the scenes production photos and updates on the program’s progress. Please feel free to check it out or ‘like’ us! Here’s the link:
Again, thank you so much for your time and for entrusting us with your thoughts and experiences. Please feel free to spread the word about the program. We’re hoping to get as much media attention for this issue as we can. 

I hope you get a chance to see the program when it airs and most of all I hope you enjoy it.

Best wishes,

[embedplusvideo height=”281″ width=”450″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/_TaLM7VL6B4?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=_TaLM7VL6B4&width=450&height=281&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep2655″ /]

Hot with H – Documentary

An insider’s guide to viral love and sex

We’re researching a documentary for national TV & the web looking at dating, loving and lusting with genital herpes.

We’d like to speak with men and women, young and old, gay and straight, in love or on the prowl and those who are celibate too. We want to hear it all. The more
twists, the more complications and the more pain and joy, the better.

This is your chance to contribute, to be heard and to finally tell the world (even anonymously) what it’s like to be living, loving and hopefully laughing
with the herpes virus.

Register your interest with Jay at slowmoradio@gmail.com by Friday October 30 and she will set up a convenient time to contact you.

Download the PDF: Hot with H


If you haven’t already been interviewed by Jay please get in touch ASAP, they need as many interviewees as possible in the next couple of weeks.



Live & Love – Let’s Talk About Herpes

Spread the message, not the virus

Live & Love Short Film Competition to destigmatise HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus)

Budding film makers are being challenged to shoot cinematic flicks designed to destigmatise HSV – the Herpes Simplex Virus commonly associated with cold sores and genital herpes – as part of the inaugural Live & Love Short Film Competition.

The competition, coordinated by The Australian Herpes Management Forum (AHMF), is inviting students (film, media, journalism, advertising and medicine), the film and media industry, and pop culture enthusiasts nation-wide to create high-quality, 30-second- long films that explore HSV and educate viewers about its prevalence, while encouraging open discussion about the virus in order to reduce its stigma.

The finalist films will be showcased, and the winners announced at the exclusive Live & Love Short Film Competition Awards – a red carpet event to be held in Sydney on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 – the evening prior to Herpes Awareness Day (Wednesday, October 20, 2010).

According to award winning film maker, Genevieve Clay, short films are an excellent medium for opening up dialogue about issues within society that are not often explored or discussed.

“Short films allow viewers to be transported from the real world for long enough to open their minds to subjects they would normally dismiss.

“Challenging people to create films on topics considered to be taboo, such as HSV, is a great way to explore the raw creative talents of film makers aiming to alter public perception through their work,” said Ms Clay.

This groundbreaking competition, themed Let’s talk about HSV, encourages entrants to use short films to debunk myths about herpes and facilitate conversation in the community about a virus affecting one in eight sexually active Australian adults.1

Film makers have until September 24, 2010 to write, shoot and edit short films designed to destigmatise herpes. The Live & Love website, http://www.liveandlove.com.au, provides entrants with competition and voting details and information about HSV and support services, including a list of sexual health experts. Finalists will be invited to Sydney to mingle with a host of arts industry representatives, including Genevieve Clay and the well known ABC series ‘Beached Az’ creators, Anthony MacFarlane & Jarod Green, at the Live & Love Short Film Competition awards screening on Tuesday, October 19, 2010. The event, to be held in Sydney, will showcase five shortlisted finalist entries and five People’s Choice award winners before the official announcement of the Judges’ Choice award.

A total prize purse of $15,000 is up for grabs. The winner of the Judges’ Choice Award, to be decided by a panel of celebrity, medical and patient judges, will clinch $10,000 cash, while the five People’s Choice Award winners will take away $1,000 each.

The People’s Choice Awards will be granted to the films that receive the highest number of public votes at www.liveandlove.com.au.

According to sexual health physician, Dr Catriona Ooi, “The Live & Love Short Film Competition presents a fantastic opportunity for film makers to encourage discussion about HSV and pass on the message that people living with the virus are not alone.

“By talking publicly about HSV, we can help break the stigma and shame felt by those affected,” Dr Ooi said.

To register in the Live & Love Short Film Competition, or for more information, go to www.liveandlove.com.au.

About HSV

HSV is a common virus generally transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. There are several strains of HSV – two of which commonly cause genital herpes (HSV type 1 and HSV type 2).

HSV type 1 is the virus that most commonly causes cold sores – about 80 per cent of adults HSV type 1.2 HSV type 2 is usually associated with genital herpes and is commonly transmitted through sexual contact.

Although HSV type 1 is most commonly associated with cold sores and HSV type 2 is most commonly associated with genital herpes, both can be passed on orally or genitally. Increasingly HSV type 1 is a cause of genital herpes as oral cold sores are passed to the genital area through oral sex.

Approximately one-in-eight sexually active Australians over the age of 25 has genital herpes1 – 60 per cent of whom have visible symptoms but are unaware that they have the virus. Another 20 per cent have the virus but have no visible symptoms.

Symptoms of a genital herpes outbreak may include swollen lymph nodes in the glands of the groin, neck and armpit; flu-like symptoms; pain during urination; swelling, pain or itching around the genitals; and painful red spots that can form small blisters.

For more information about HSV, contact your medical professional for available treatments.

Herpes – A Perspective

Until you get Herpes as an STD, you really have no idea how it can affect your life. I’m a 52 year old male, Australian, living in Sydney. I’ve had Herpes for approximately 10 years. From my point of view, everyone’s initial reaction to the news of contracting the virus is different; angry, cheated, bitter, sad, shocked, ashamed, worried, guilty, in denial… In fact, virtually every reaction is negative. No one I know has ever said to me they were so happy at the news, they cried. Plenty mentioned crying, but none associated it with happiness.

There is little wonder then, that people without Herpes see it as a negative. When I didn’t have it, I saw it as a negative. (I still do.) Hell, I saw every STD as a negative. Unfortunately Herpes, unlike most other STDs, doesn’t have a cure. I’m not sure that those who don’t have it, see “us” (as people) as a negative, but recently I was described by someone as diseased. Well, I guess I am.

None of us asked for Herpes. “Hey, look at me, can I have some Herpes today please?” Not one of us wanted it.

The thing is you can’t always tell who has it and who doesn’t. Some people have it and have no idea that they do. The symptoms can be so mild as to be unidentifiable to the layman. It’s hard to blame or hold a grudge against someone who gives you something in total ignorance. Something they were completely oblivious about until you told them you now have it, and until they were tested and the results came back positive..

My case I suppose falls into the rare category of contracting the virus through contact but not in a sexual way. You see my girlfriend at the time had Herpes, and eventually we had the talk. (I was surprised, but took it very well… I mean what else can a reasonable person do, and in the vast majority of cases, in both sexes, this will be the reaction. However, there will be the occasional over-reaction and of course an almost mandatory number of; “we-had-the-talk-and-I-never-saw- them-agains.”) From my point of view the relationship wasn’t that far along and we weren’t going to have sex. At least not until I was certain where we were going. But fate stepped in, and I was tested. I had it. Well I was certain I had it, before the test, classic Herpes symptoms. There was no doubt in my mind. When the results came back, there was no anger, no shock, no denial. I went straight to acceptance. No use making life worse for anyone else or dwelling on the negatives. It also made the no sex argument moot. Which pleased both of us to some extent.

It also changed the direction of my life…

I did all the appropriate reading and in the end knew more about it than my girlfriend. But at the time, I didn’t look at any sites where “sufferers” gathered. And we are sufferers, if not physically, at least mentally and emotionally. Some come to terms with it more quickly than others. Some seem to never come to terms with it or simply relapse from time to time into depressive episodes and bouts of isolation.

My solution was to marry the girl who gave it to me. After all I had feelings for her, she certainly had them for me. I thought this would solve our problem and end the risk of further spreading the disease. Keep it in the family so to speak. All tied up, in a neat little bow. But eventually, fate stepped in… again.

I found myself once again single… but this time with an added complication.

I’d never really had much of a sex life, but at this point I was thinking it was well and truly dead and buried. There was no hope, no chance, no use even looking. (Literally.) Relationships were going to be a thing of the past, it was going to be a hermits life for me. All sex initiated by me was going to be with me. Eventually I started looking around and found Hsingles, a “dating” and support site for people with Herpes. If I had known about this site sooner, perhaps I wouldn’t have made the mistake in getting married and basing that on the vagaries of fate and a common virus.

So at this stage I considered myself a sexual leper. (I still do by the way.) I have found different attitudes to this situation, through members on the Hsingles site. Some are almost in denial, some think we can carry on “normal” lives, some advocate going out with non-H people. Some have withdrawn and others seek partners and friends from amongst the “infected”. I found myself agreeing with those in this latter group. It seemed to me having to deal with the stress and disappointment that surely would come from outside the group, the “uninfected”, would far outweigh that from within the group. But I’ve found that that is not strictly true.

Dating someone with Herpes “means never having to say you are sorry…” so to speak. There is no need for the nerve-wracking talk and the stress involved, or the worry about rejection… well at least not on the grounds of being “diseased”.

Having a partner within the group means the risk of spread of the disease is stopped. Well at least if your relationship is monogamous or doesn’t involve those outside the group.

You will be with people who understand where you are coming from and what you have been and are going through. People who can empathise with your predicament.

Recently I was told that someone in “my situation” shouldn’t be so picky. Picky? Well I mused this one over for a few seconds, then came to the conclusion, perhaps this is something I used to think when I first joined the Hsingles site. Here was a subgroup of society with a disease in common. Whose (sex) life was affected by an incurable infectious disease. I think I did expect that other members of this group would be less picky than those outside it. After all, there were less of us to choose from. But I quickly found out this wasn’t the case. We were all just as picky as those unaffected. Well why not? We are still the people we used to be. We have the same likes and dislikes, the same preferences, biases, tastes, etc, etc. The success of a relationship, after all, is dependant on more than just the sharing of a common disease. It may be A love bug, but it isn’t THE love bug… if you know what I mean.

Recently I have put myself up on 2 mainstream dating sites. Just out of curiosity. One where I am very up-front about my medical condition and another where it isn’t mentioned. There is no comparison with the results. On one site I may as well be dead. No guessing which one. In fact I had to initiate contact myself, (or there would be no contact) and it is this site where I was told I was “diseased” and as such shouldn’t be so “picky”. It appears Herpes causes the necessity for one to lower one’s expectations in the suitability of a partner.

I’m finding that this site certainly isn’t good for one’s confidence or self esteem. This makes one wonder if one should continue on the other site and try to further contacts there or will it lead to the seemingly inevitable negative reaction or a spate of polite no thank-yous. It might be different for a woman perhaps. I can’t say. But it seems to me that with women considering men, it’s a matter of there are plenty more fish in the sea and they’re always biting and they don’t have the disease. “You’re nice and attractive… but you have Herpes. He’s nice and attractive… no contest!”

This has also lead me to think lately about those of us (males) who are in denial or who don’t warn sexual partners about our condition and the risks involved. Is it just too hard, too stressful, too disheartening? Is it easier to ignore the situation and just let the cards fall where they may. After all there is no guarantee they will catch it from us. Why complicate life? If something happens there is always plausible deniability. Or outright lying. Does the need, the drive, the desire… all those survival of the species things, outweigh our responsibility to the truth and care for others? For some of us (unfortunately) it doesn’t.

To tell or not to tell? Are they right or am I right? Should I deny myself and be celibate if I can’t find a partner with Herpes or are they right in thinking the risk is too insignificant to worry about and it’s no big deal anyway? Of course there are other aspects of a relationship that one misses apart from the physical intimacy, the companionship, love, sharing life, (having a life) etc, etc, etc… But… much of that seems to hinge on having a normal sex life, normal intimacy, and that of course brings us back to Herpes.

Note: The Hsingles site referred to in this story is now called Living Sphere Community.