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Peckham has had genital herpes for six years now and got it from an ex-girlfriend who didn’t know she had it.He hasn’t been in a relationship with any girls since his diagnosis, though he’s been rejected by a few girls who asked to be friends after hearing about his condition.Herpes is the “largest epidemic no one wants to talk about,” Eric Sabo wrote in the New York Times.Both Project Accept and HSV Singles Dating blame an antiviral drug marketing campaign during the late 1970s to mid-1980s for herpes’ stigma.Instead, what keeps this 27-year-old from approaching the cute girl across the room is a set of hypotheticals that most people don’t deal with.“My mind runs ahead to ‘the disclosure talk’ and then all the way down to, ‘What if we have sex and what if I give it to her?’” said Peckham, an IT professional who lives in Austin, Texas.A genital herpes outbreak during the third trimester of pregnancy and during delivery may be deadly for the baby if he or she contracts it from the mother (neonatal herpes, it’s called), but it’s incredibly rare (one per 3,000 to 20,000 live births) and preventable with medication and a C-section, according to an article published in .Genital herpes is contracted during sexual contact, usually spread through fluids on the genitals or mouth.

The only times that having genital herpes can be dangerous are when having sex with someone who has HIV (since it can increase your chances of getting HIV) and during pregnancy.

But it’s difficult to pin down exactly when and why our negative associations started.

Regardless of where the stigma came from, film and TV no doubt keep it alive.

Symptoms may include a fever, headache, and muscle aches for a few weeks.

But for the most part, outbreaks consist of painful fever blisters or sores on or near the genitals (or, in less common cases, sores appearing elsewhere) for a few days, as well as burning, itching, swelling, and irritation that may be triggered by stress or fatigue.

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Even after his friends hype him up, Jamin Peckham still backs out sometimes.

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