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Jenelle Marie Davis, 34, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, will gladly explain why having herpes isn’t the end of the world. It took years for Davis, founder of The STD Project, which encourages awareness and acceptance of various sexually transmitted diseases, and spokesperson for Positive Singles, a dating site for people with STDs, to come to terms with the diagnosis she got at age 16.“My mom says the entire way home from my appointment, I cried and said no one would ever love me, no one would ever want me, and I’d never get married,” Davis tells SELF.

Society often puts out the message that people with herpes are dirty or somehow flawed.Herpes affects approximately one in five Americans. It's also not as awful as many people think it will be. You'll still be able to date, fall in love, and have sex. It isn't a curse, a judgement, or the end of the world.The first thing you need to do after you've received a genital herpes diagnosis is sit down and take a breath. Do some research and learn all you can about the disease.There are some conversations that change your life.If a doctor has ever diagnosed you with genital herpes, you may remember that discussion as one of them.

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But all the self-acceptance in the world doesn’t erase the fact that a herpes diagnosis creates ripple effects of shame and social isolation, and the fallout is especially pronounced when it comes to your dating life.“It’s good to have the conversation because there is a potential risk of transmission,” Cherrell Triplett, M.

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