Happy Sluts Have Herpes

My name is Alexander Cheves. My nickname is Beastly. I write about sex. I wrote a book.

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Dear Beastly,

I’m a mid-20s queer man (he/him) and I have genital herpes (HSV-1).

When I was diagnosed in 2019, I was deeply depressed and thought my sex life was ruined. I’ve since worked through that stigma and learned that herpes is incredibly common — two in three people have HSV-1 and one in six have HSV-2 (another strain that usually causes genital herpes).

I now have a vibrant sex life and take Valtrex daily. My boyfriend and I are open and it’s important to me to disclose my status to new sex partners.

HOWEVER, I don’t know how to navigate disclosing my status at anonymous sex parties. I used to love fucking on dance floors, dark rooms, and bathhouses — but I no longer know how to navigate that situation. Should I try to yell over loud music that I have herpes before fucking someone? Should I accept that my time at these parties is over because disclosing my status at loud sex parties is unrealistic?

Or should I fuck people without disclosing my status? Part of me thinks people are consenting to that risk during anonymous sex. But another part worries that that is deceitful and is setting myself up for disaster.

Thank you!! I’m a long-time reader!!

Alex

Hi Alex,

Thanks for being a long-time reader.

You should not tell strangers at sex parties that you have genital herpes.

I strongly support the concept of “assumed risk”. Everyone at a sex party should assume the risk that everyone there has genital herpes, plus all other sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).

Genital herpes is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world. Half of all adults in the U.S. have oral herpes — herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) — which is the most common cause of genital herpes (HSV-2). Different sources have different stats on how many people have genital herpes, though all numbers must be read with a caveat: No one knows a true count, because it is very common to experience only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

In general, herpes is not included in most STI screenings, so it’s likely that the true number of people with genital herpes is much higher than most stats — and most of those people will never know they have it. (Back in the early days of my writing career, I wrote a report on this very subject for Plus.)

Both types of herpes are very easily transmitted (via kissing, oral sex, genital-to-genital contact, and more) that, in a few generations, most adults on Earth will likely have some form of the virus. According to the New York State Department of Health, most people are first exposed to oral herpes before they are five years old. A parent with oral herpes can transmit the virus to their child if they kiss them on the mouth or share straws, utensils, and so on. Genital herpes — HSV-2 — is so common, and its symptoms so manageable, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) don’t recommend screening for it unless symptoms are present. Unfortunately, due to widespread lack of education, the social stigma of having herpes is usually more distressing than the actual infection. For this reason, I don’t even recommend getting tested for it. If you have lots of sex, just assume you have it. That’s what I do.

I can’t stress this enough: the stigma against genital herpes is completely needless. There is no sense in fearing something that most sexually-active adults are likely to get.

The people you’re wanting to fuck at these parties have already been exposed to genital herpes or have it themselves. Most will never experience symptoms. Most have never even been tested for it.

The only way to eliminate the risk of getting (or transmitting) herpes is to not fuck. Condoms do not fully prevent it. In theory, one could make every sex partner be tested before fucking, but that would eliminate the fun of going to a sex party and having sex with strangers.

Sex parties are fun. We enjoy them because they’re great. They are not without some risk — virtually no sexual activity is risk-free. We bear these risks and work to mitigate them in order to enjoy our lives. This is happy sluthood. My risk-mitigation regimen has evolved over time, but generally this is what I do: I get a full STI screening every month (a screening that does not include herpes, because I assume I already have it) and whenever I have an infection, I tell all recent sex partners so they can also get tested and treated if necessary. I’ve never had symptoms of genital herpes, but if I ever did, I would not fuck while I was experiencing symptoms — I would probably not want to anyway — and treat the symptoms with medication. (But even this is a bit pointless because herpes can be transmitted with or without symptoms present.) When symptoms cleared, I’d hop right back on the sex saddle and go about my life — and be like every other sexually-active person with asymptomatic genital herpes. I would keep fucking without a silly conversation before every encounter about the fact that I have something most adult sluts will get.

Taking Valtrex daily sounds to me like overkill. Unless you’re having frequent, regular outbreaks, I’d simply treat flare-ups when (and if) they come. Over time, it’s likely that your flare-ups will diminish in frequency or stop altogether.

Besides managing symptoms, there’s just not much to worry about with genital herpes. Herpes does increase one’s risk of getting HIV, but it is harmless on its own (it is, as I’ve stated, usually asymptomatic) — so you should take the necessary steps to prevent HIV, which are the same steps recommended for all sexually-active adults. More to the point, there’s just not much one can do to prevent genital herpes besides celibacy, which isn’t realistic.

To enjoy sex, we all must live with the risk of catching herpes along with the possibility (probability) that we already have it. These are things every sexually-active adult must live with. If you can’t, don’t fuck.

Along with herpes, most sexually-active adults have some strains of HPV, and this is more deserving of your attention than herpes, as HPV can cause anal, penile, head, and neck cancer in folks with penises (rates of these cancers are rising) and cervical cancer in folks with cervices. Thankfully, there’s an HPV vaccine that everyone should get, regardless of age or sexual history, that is effective at preventing the more cancer-causing strains of HPV. Talk to your doc about that.

I believe sex — hot, connected, beautiful sex, including quick anon bangs at at a sex party — is worth the risks. So go to the party and have fun.

Love, Beastly

So I recently found a sore on my dick. I was wondering if I should get tested for herpes or just ignore it. Because if I did get herpes and had no symptoms I would go on never knowing and continue barebacking. But now that I do have symptoms I’m not sure I want to know because I’d have to tell people and who wants to knowingly be bred by someone with herpes?

My dear,

Read my reply to your comrade above.

You should get tested for everything — a full STI screening. That’s one of the most basic responsibilities of being a happy, healthy slut.

You don’t specify what symptoms you are experiencing, but herpes isn’t the only STI that can cause genital sores. Syphilis can too. So get tested for everything: gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, HIV, Hep-C, and — because you’re having symptoms — HSV-2, or genital herpes.

There is no cure for genital herpes, but there’s no cause for concern either. There’s virtually nothing you can do to prevent getting it or transmitting it to someone else.

If you’re breeding men, chances are high the piggy bottoms you’re seeding are regularly exposed to genital herpes or already have it themselves (and have no idea) so it’s irrelevant if they want to knowingly be bred by someone with herpes, because they already are. If they are responsible sluts, they know the risks, have made adult decisions, are getting tested regularly, and are treating flare-ups if and when they occur. But even if they do none of that, that’s not your concern. We each have agency over our own bodies and holes and lives and must take care of ourselves and not rely on information or honesty from others. This is risk-aware, consensual sluthood.

Treat your infection until it clears, during which time you should not fuck — that’s the courteous thing to do. When it clears, you do not have to tell people the arbitrary, pointless, and needlessly stigmatizing fact that you have genital herpes — something many of them likely have already.

Love, Beastly

Hi,

I’ll get right to the point. How do I get my boyfriend to let me peg him? Thanks!

Howdy,

Your question doesn’t specify, but I’m guessing you’re a cisgender woman. I really hate assuming gender, so to everyone who sends me a question in the future: PLEASE include your pronouns.

I love that you want to peg your BF. That’s super hot. I’ve only been pegged once by a cis woman, but it was so great. I definitely want to do it again (hello, dominant women!). Unfortunately, if someone is opposed to something in bed, there’s not much you can do to make them try it. Pressured sex is bad sex. You can assure him that many men love pegging — you can send him this article, this article, this article, this article, and this article — and you can even watch hot pegging porn together. You can tell him how hot you think it is and how badly you want to try it.

You can send him here (send him this post, this post, this post, this post, and this post — all my posts for beginners to anal sex) to help him prep. You can send him any other articles about butt play. But if, after all this, he still simply refuses to try it, pressuring and cajoling are not appropriate and you must gently say “okay,” respect his autonomy, and love him as he is.

Best of luck.

Love, Beastly

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