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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 When she was diagnosed with herpes almost three years ago, Whitney Carlson, 29, a social media editor in Chicago, had a similar reaction. The infection, which is caused by the herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2 viruses and passed via skin-to-skin contact, can show up as a cluster of sores on the mouth area or genitals. Around two-thirds of people worldwide under age 50 have herpes simplex 1, according to the World Health Organization , and around one in every six Americans between ages 14 and 49 has genital herpes, usually caused by herpes simplex 2, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both Davis and Carlson eventually moved past their initial panic and saw herpes for what it is: an infection many people have that happens to usually get passed through sexual contact.
A few years ago, back when I was regularly trolling OKCupid for dates, I received a message from a potential paramour. He'd been scanning through the survey answers associated with my profile, and one response in particular gave him pause: when asked whether I'd consider dating someone with herpes, I'd responded no. It wasn't some carefully considered stance on sexual transmitted infections, or grand statement about herpes. For him, however, it was a potential deal breaker: As you've probably figured out by now, my suitor was a member of that vast group of sexually active adults who've been infected with herpes. The internet was supposed to be transformative for people with incurable, but highly preventable, STIs like herpes simplex virus HSV who wanted to date while being open about their status. There's no question that these sites which have even spawned their own Tinder-like apps are a fantastic demonstration of how innovative online dating platforms can be.