Dear Alaskans,

I have a question about some risk factors. Ten years ago, I met a girl and there was an instant attraction. We never ended up having any sort of romantic connection, but there was always an interest.

We recently ran into each other again and started talking. During our conversations she told me she needed to be honest with me about something. She informed me that she learned five years ago that she had contracted herpes but since she found out she has been treating it with medication, hasn’t had an outbreak, and that none of her previous sexual partners has ever contracted it from her. I really want things between us to progress, but I am not sure if I should take a risk. I have been very lucky to have never had an STD, and I am not sure if I want to roll the dice on this one. I will admit that I don’t know a lot of STD’s because I have never had to deal with it.

— What would you do?

Hey friend. So first we are going to give you some basic information about herpes because this is actually a conversation that comes up pretty regularly with our group.

There are two types of herpes. HSV-1 and HSV-2. Herpes Simplex 1 is the most common and is known as oral herpes. Over fifty percent of American adults have HSV-1; also called cold sores or fever blisters.

For genital herpes, or HSV-2, the number drops to about one in eight, or twelve percent of the population. It is possible for oral herpes to transfer to the genitals through direct contact. It should be noted that the emotional impact of being diagnosed with either is usually much worse than the condition itself, and it does not deserve the upset that it often causes.

While it is possible for the virus to be transferred even when symptoms are not present it is rare, but this means that sometimes people can infect their partners even when they do not realize it. With daily medication people can reduce the risk of transferring the virus and prevent recurrences of symptoms.

Now some general advice about STI’s and STD’s. For clarification, the two terms are used interchangeably but they are technically different things. An STI is a sexually transmitted infection, while an STD is a sexually transmitted disease. There are many times that someone can contract and STI and not know because they do not show symptoms. This is why it is always best to get tested regularly and use safer sex practices such as condoms, dental dams, or limiting your number of sexual partners. Alaska has some of the highest STI rates in the nation and so it is even more important here in the 49th state to be aware and informed when it comes to your own sexual health and that of your partners.

It sounds to us like this girl has been very upfront about her sexual health and that she is also handling it in the best way possible. The fact that she is willing to have this conversation with you means that she is already taking the necessary steps to protect you, and keep you informed of problems that may occur in the future. The problem with herpes is that a condom alone won’t always protect you if she has an outbreak that is about to begin.

One of the best ways to protect yourself from any infection or disease is through conversation. She has already initiated this with you and given you the opportunity to make a decision. Ultimately it is entirely up to you, but in our opinion, someone that is willing to let you know the risk factors of being in an intimate relationship with them, especially a risk factor that often ruins people’s reputations when it becomes part of the rumor mill, is probably someone that will also be honest with you about anything else that you might need to know. We would roll those dice.

Alaskans,

I recently got engaged and everything is going great between my fiancé and me. The problem is with my best friend. After I got engaged, she automatically assumed that she was going to be my maid of honor and at first, I thought she was going to be also. After a couple weeks of her texting me all of the ideas that she had for showers and bridesmaid dresses and floral arrangements, I realized that just like in most cases she was going to end up making the entire situation about her, and not let me have my day without her input.

I never actually asked her to be my maid of honor, and I really want my little sister to take the role instead. How do I let her know gently that I don’t want her to plan anything on what is supposed to be one of the most amazing days of my life?

— Not a Bridezilla

Okay, so you are absolutely right that this day is supposed to be about you and your fiancé. Let us also point out that unless they are paying for it, your parents don’t even get a say in the planning of this affair. All too often we watch our friends get bullied into having things that they don’t even want to happen because of supposed tradition and family guilt. Make the day yours, elope if you have to, have your ceremony, the photos, and the reception your way.

It sounds like you have a pretty easy out making your sister your maid of honor. That is a special honor, and someone that has known you for your entire life is probably going to plan your shower and help with things a lot better than a friend.

The bigger question that we have for you is why you have a friend that sounds like a bully in the first place. Sometimes we consider someone a “best friend” simply because of the history that we have with that person. It’s not a numbers game. Sometimes the greatest friend we knew in high school or college is not the person helping us out most when we are adults making adult decisions.

We advise you to sit back and think about whether this person is actually the best friend for you. It may be that you are the greatest friend that she has ever had, but she has never actually returned the favor.

The Alaskans would love to hear from you! Send us your questions to lastfrontierdating@outlook.com

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