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Herpes Infection Keeps Lonely Woman on the Dating Sidelines

DEAR ABBY: I am a 65-year-old woman, attractive and lonely. I am uncomfortable using dating sites because I have genital herpes. I was infected by my first husband more than 40 years ago.

If I were to meet someone on one of those sites, when would be the right time to reveal my problem? After we have gotten to know each other? Or should I be up front about it and say something when we first meet? I am, naturally, afraid of condemnation and/or contempt. -- UNSURE IN NEW YORK

DEAR UNSURE: Herpes is an infection, not a scarlet letter. Many people carry the virus, and a surprising number of them are not aware they have it and can infect others. In fact, according to the American Sexual Health Association, one in six individuals in the United States between the ages of 14 and 49 has genital herpes (HSV-2).

Because you are hesitant about when to reveal your status, please visit the ASHA website (ashasexualhealth.org). You will find it informative. It includes a section on relationships, suggestions about when to tell someone, how to talk to a partner, reactions to expect, etc.

Another website that has been mentioned in my column before is H-Date.com. It offers a free dating service through which thousands of men and women meet. Many nice, eligible people -- people just like you -- have herpes and live full, happy lives. I hope you will check it out.

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