image via: Hyperthinking 247

Slow claps, standing ovations and a big, loud “BRAVA!”for Pass The Herpes , a new, Ottawa-based blog that seeks to elimate the stigma around herpes by giving people a safe-space to share their experiences.

Gential herpes is one of the more common STIs. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1 in 4 sexually active Canadians has genital herpes. Which means it likely that at least one guest at your last fancy dinner party had herpes. Yet the infection (which has no known cure) is generally not considered appropriate mealtime conversation. In fact, Herpes isn’t considered appropriate anytime conversation –  and that kind of sucks.

In a recent interview with CBC, Pass The Herpes founder (and my pal!) Shelley Taylor said:

“It’s a tremendous amount of people walking around with a very, very big secret. For most people it causes a fair amount of shame and any time there’s shame, there tends to be isolation. Because we don’t ever talk about herpes, we don’t really ever fix that problem where everyone feels like they have a big, shameful secret and like they’re the only one.”

If anyone understands how open communication can kick stigma’s ass, it’s the woman who brought us Venus Envy! In blog time Pass The Herpes is still in it’s infancy, but this baby’s growing…FAST! People are talking, writing and telling their stories.  One of my favourite posts so far talks about negotiating herpes disclosure in the world of online dating. Another explores the challenges of managing oral herpes with multiple partners.

People have herpes. Hard-working, upstanding, tax-paying, everyday people, people we all know. Herpes is a fact of a lot of people’s lives. We should be allowed, encouraged to talk about it – which is exactly what Pass The Herpes does. Can I get a Z-snap?

If you’d like to join the conversation,  just e-mail Shelley at herpesblog[at]gmail[com]. Talking won’t cure herpes, but it’s a fantastic remedy for shame.


  1. Milan says:

    People should be more open about discussing such things, though I understand why people would rather pretend that STIs just don’t exist.

    Given how many people are asymptomatic – and the fact that few people always use barriers for oral sex – it is pretty much inescapable that large numbers of people will become symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers of HPV and HSV.

    • nadinethornhill says:

      Absolutely. Talking openly about STIs is key in encouraging both preventative measures. But it’s also an important step in normalizing an experience that’s far more common than most people realize.

      • anita says:


        I live in Toronto and feel a bit isolated on the topic of Herpes. I have been living with it for years yet since I first disclosed it 7 years ago to a partner, he reacted very negatively and told me to get out of his life. I was shattered. 2 months later, he knocks on my door and he says Herpes is not a big deal, please take me back but I couldn’t take him back. He didn’t want to use a condom and my fear is if I gave to him, he may hold me responsible or he may leave me again. I chose not to be intimate with him anymore. In the last 7 years, I have been very careful and have become more selective in chosing a partner. I haven’t met anyone yet to disclose herpes. Yet, there is a fear inside of me and I get anxious about the idea of telling someone I may like. How do I tell him? Thanks,