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Telling a partner about health concerns that can affect him or her is always an imperative, experts said.But how much to disclose, or when, can depend on the case.What's more, "if you're asymptomatic and you learn you have herpes, there's not much we can do," says Monica Patton, MD, a medical epidemiologist in the division of STD prevention at the CDC. "I'm left saying, 'I have no idea when or where you got it or if you could transmit it,'" says Maura Quinlan, MD, an ob-gyn in Chicago."But it's like a scarlet letter, which is silly."The minority who do experience sores find they are spottable and controllable.

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It's spread by vaginal, oral, and anal sex, so unless you're abstinent or your partners haven't had sex of any kind, you can't totally safeguard against it.So not much happens to your body, but plenty happens to your spirit: Quality of life plummets after diagnosis, per research in the journals Sexually Transmitted Infections and Genitourinary Medicine, and low sexual self-esteem and anxiety about sex linger for years, says Myers. "Who would want to sleep with someone who had herpes?I felt incredibly alone." Eventually, she joined an online support group. "It can discourage people from getting tested or seeking treatment if they have sores, from talking to their partner or doctor, and from taking part in studies, which would help find better treatments or vaccines or cures."Both Austin and Rodriguez came to terms with their diagnoses, and both are in relationships.Condoms lower your risk, but the virus can reach skin from the area outside one.Many people transmit herpes unknowingly: Up to 90 percent of carriers never have an outbreak.

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