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In the same way that no birth control method reduces the chances of pregnancy to zero, couples eventually find the right balance between caution and calculated risk.

When prodrome is present, it means the virus is active and the chances of transmission are high. But on the grand scale of things, herpes might be less of a challenge than celiac’s disease or severe nut allergies or even a monthly menstrual cycle.

Is the risk higher than being in a relationship with someone who is confirmed negative? But is it realistic to only be in relationships with people who have been recently tested for herpes? For most people, herpes outbreaks happen less and less frequently as time goes on.

There are medications that can shorten or prevent outbreaks and reduce the chances of transmitting herpes to another person.

Coupled with a good understanding of herpes and a frank and open discussion with your partner, this can mean a very manageable relationship with herpes.

Staying in a relationship where you are negative and they are positive seems like playing with fire.

But there’s something to be said for someone who knows they have herpes and knows how to manage it versus someone who has herpes and doesn’t know and has never been tested. Garrison, a clinical sexologist, told Primer: “When a person living with herpes knows everything about herpes and can comfort themselves and educate their partners, when they can know their prodrome and understand what that means, when they are aware of what can trigger their outbreaks, then sex with them can be (and often is! That being said, you'll never reduce your risk of contracting herpes from a partner down to zero. There are three ways to reduce the risk of transmission.

Not just compared to everyone you know, but compared to your own life up to this point.

What’s unique about this situation is that one of you knows and is talking about it openly. The shaming of the “unclean” and the fear loom far larger than the actual health risks to the population. That two people might hook up–be it a third date or a long committed relationship–and one or both of them has herpes and doesn’t know it is hardly far fetched.

1 in 6 means that if you’ve had three sexual partners in your life, then there’s a chance that one of them has had herpes and an even greater chance that one of them has had a partner with herpes.

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