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"When I was first diagnosed in my twenties, I thought it was the end of the world." As luck would have it, Nancy (who asked that The Post withhold her last name to protect her privacy) stumbled across an Internet dating community specifically for singles diagnosed with herpes -- Meet People With H ( She posted information about herself, along with a photo, and within days, responses from "tons of men" -- including CEOs, a firefighter and an architect -- came pouring in.
"It was a huge load off to know I didn't have to face telling someone I had herpes.
Some people still believe if you have it you've 'been around' a lot, which isn't true at all," Nancy says.
According to the American Social Health Association, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing STDs, more than 65 million Americans live with a viral sexually transmitted disease such as herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B and HIV.
Unlike bacterial STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, which can be cured if caught early enough, viral diseases can only be managed.
Once contracted, they become a permanent part of the person's sex and dating landscape -- a situation that can be more daunting than seeking medical treatment.
Her main concern wasn't that her long hours as a researcher would keep her from meeting men, but of the reaction she might face when she eventually disclosed she has herpes.
"Having that conversation is tough," says the Prince George's County resident, who contracted the disease from an ex-boyfriend.
"Disclosing their sexual history is the hardest part for some people," said Charles Ebel, vice president of health program resources at ASHA.