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by Abigail Van Buren

Lonely Caregiver Seeks Comfort in Wrong Arms

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 56-year-old grandmother. The love of my life died last summer. As I cared for him throughout his illness, I grew deeply lonely and despondent. Around that time I began having coffee with an acquaintance of ours. To make a long story short –- he gave me genital herpes.

Abby, PLEASE remind your readers to protect themselves. This disease is a life sentence. The physical and emotional pain can be overwhelming. A couple of hours in someone's arms isn't worth the isolation afterward. Now this affliction is with me for the rest of my life. It's a horrible disease. There's nothing romantic about it. I'm an intelligent person who should have known better. -- PAYING THE PRICE

DEAR PAYING THE PRICE: You have learned a painful lesson, but an important one. Every sexually active person, regardless of age, should be tested before engaging in sex with a new partner. It is estimated that one out of four sexually active people have herpes -– and 90 percent of them do not realize they have it. If everyone acted responsibly, it could save a lifetime of pain, embarrassment and regret.

More information on this important subject can be obtained by calling the Centers for Disease Control National STD Hotline toll-free number: (800) 227-8922. It is open 24/7.