I received an email from a friend the other day, telling me that she had recently learned that she has genital herpes. This is of only theoretical interest to me, since she and I have never been sexually intimate, but it did spark a quick round of research - starting with What is Genital Herpes and moving on to How do you get it and How can it be treated.
Only one site - WebMD - said Look, this is unhappy news but it isn't the end of the world, and it doesn't mean you're suddenly undesirable or ugly, and it doesn't mean that you can't be sexually active, or have children. It does mean you'll probably have to take medication for the rest of your life, but LOTS of people take chronic-condition medication for the rest of their lives. It won't stop you from living. YOU are not herpes; you HAVE herpes. All of the rest of the sites treated it like a serious infection (which apparently it is) that will make major changes in your life (which apparently it can, but doesn't have to). I pointed out the WebMD article to her, but she had already come to those conclusions based on things she'd found on local health sites.
I was a little surprised that she told me. We're close friends, and I've told her repeatedly that she can talk to me about anything (she's not very close to her parents, and sometimes she needs to talk), but this - this is pretty intimate stuff. I'm honored that she trusts me so much.