Why do I view her differently now that I know she has Herpes?

Dear Dr. Amy:

Just today my best friend (who is only 13) told me that she has herpes. She didn’t get it from having sex with someone else who has herpes. She is a virgin, After she skipped her period, she told her mom. The doctor told her she got herpes because her blood clots fast and bacteria grew. I didn’t know what to say at all. She is really embarassed about it. Her family and I are the only ones who know about it. Before she told me she said that I might see her differently. I told myself I would never see her different, but I do. I mean, I don’t think of her as gross or revolting, I just see her differently. I have a few questions. One, is this normal for young women? Two, should I talk to her about it? Three, I feel so sorry for her, but I don’t know how to tell her. How do I do that? I thank you for your time and consideration.

Dr. Amy’s Response:

Herpes is caused by a viral infection and spread through contact with the virus. People of all ages can get herpes. Genital herpes is more common in individuals who are sexually active but that is not the only way to contract the disease. It can be very mysterious because the way someone is exposed is not always clear.

The fact that your friend confided in you shows how much she trusts you and needs someone to talk to. You and your friend might find reading about the subject to be helpful in understanding herpes. This is something you can do together. Pay particular attention to advice on safe sex practices.

It is all right to tell your friend you feel sorry for her. It sounds like she really needs to find someone she can also be honest and open with, and if you open that door, I’m sure she will welcome your friendship. Talk to her the same way you did before she had herpes. Try to realize she is exactly the same person, but is now going through a difficult time. She really needs a friend like you right now.


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