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by Abigail Van Buren

Longtime Attraction Is Still Stymied by Age Difference

DEAR ABBY: I was date raped seven years ago, and the man who assaulted me gave me genital herpes. I'm not someone who has ever slept around. After the rape, I told no one. I didn't go to the police. I didn't go to the doctor to get checked right away because I was scared the doctor would report the rape to the police and my family would find out. I felt ashamed and dirty. Two months later, I finally found the courage to see a doctor. I realized I had genital herpes because I got a sore and went to get tested.

I'm now friends with a guy and feel like every time I meet someone I have to tell him I have herpes because I'm not the kind of person who lies or keeps secrets. My friend seems really interested in me, and I know I need to tell him.

I feel like my life is over, and I'll never be able to have kids or marry because of this disease. It's like the man who raped me has killed my social life and my desire to live. Please help me, Abby. I have no idea what to do. Should I just stay alone or try to get my life back? -- STRESSED AND ANXIOUS IN PUERTO RICO

DEAR STRESSED: For heaven's sake, take your life back! It is far from over. Go online and research the prevalence of STDs among teens and young adults in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The statistics will be an eye-opener for you and may reassure you that you are not alone in having herpes. This information should be shared with your sexual partners before becoming intimate. Medications can lessen the chance of transmission. Your doctor or a clinic worker can advise you.