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Meeting people with herpes

Like a letter in a bottle:

“I would like to meet some new friends male or female who I can trust and talk to… shall I put an ad in the newsletter?”  “I had an invitation to a gathering but felt it was too big a step to take, I wish I had the confidence to do it …”

This lady’s ad tells of all the activities and interests she has – a busy life with lots of friends. So I deduce that her ad is actually saying “I want to be able to talk about herpes simplex to other people who have it.” My advice to her is that she has:

4 ways to talk to and meet people about herpes simplex

Entirely within your control, you can:
1. Talk to a helpliner, they are all people who have felt the anguish that “Now I am different no one will want me.” But they have proved that to be wrong and all are now living
successfully with this virus. Female helpliner said: “I’ve had many partners since, now married and have a child … as far as I know, none of them caught it.” “Male helpliner: I’ve got married and had two children. And no, my wife doesn’t have it.”

2. Go to events:  we organise Saturday afternoon chats, mid-week evenings (this is often one-to-one with Marian), occasional events organised outside London, workshops here at the office, the AGM seminars…  Or if you don’t want to talk about ‘cold sores’ but would like to socialise with people with ‘cold sores’, then there are the social events organised by ‘Profesize’ about every 3 months – see article page 12.  If I have your email address, I will be forwarding his invitations to you.  Or you can see details on at his website

3. Set up a meeting in your area. See next article for how easy this is. If it is a success and lots of people come – that is great. If it is a damp squib and no one turns up except the helpliner of staff member who agreed to be there for the first event, well then, you have a nice one-to-one
counselling session/conversation with the helpliner/office member. And remember, helpliners and office counsellors are, by definition, good listeners and interesting on ‘this topic’.

Or, totally outside your control, you can:

4. Put a message in a bottle and send it out in the hope that someone will decide to respond… I mean: you can put an ad in SPHERE.  You could be lucky – I do get letters from people saying “take out my ad, I’ve now met someone through it”.  But I’m afraid that despite our   saying members should respond to any letters you are sent we constantly get complaints that some people are not doing so!

So, BE BRAVE, I beg you, talk to helpliners and/or come along to events. We are all very normal, we do not bite, we will not make you stand up and “tell your story” (like AA does). Don’t moulder away ‘like a leper’ – come and rejoin the human race!

Marian Nicholson


My most memorable new facts – from a new helpliner

Herpes simplex is just a cold sore lower down. There is no need for doctors to use the medical term.  Do they say “chickenpox” or “herpes varicella” when seeing a sick kid?  Wouldn’t if be wonderful and helpful if when they diagnosed us and they would say: “It’s a cold sore you have there. No treatment is necessary as it’ll go away by itself. However if you have a bad case, there’s a course of antiviral tablets to help it clear up.”

If asked how it is caught, they could say: “By direct skin contact with the affected part, so don’t let anyone else touch it – apart from the person you got it from or another person who
already has it.”  That is what people with cold sores are told. Nothing about “always kiss through a sheet of cling film as there’s a tiny risk you can pass it one when you don’t have a cold sore” – when it is a fact that facial sores are even more likely to be passed on when no symptoms are present.

The doctors could say: “It is so lucky you have caught it genitally as it cannot cause any further
complications.” (This is because very, very rarely a facial infection reactivates in the eye or brain, which is nasty and will need to be treated with aciclovir, whereas genitally it does nothing like that.)

Elizabeth Crawley