If you are living with herpes and are interested in joining a herpes support group, there are several things that you should consider when selecting one to join. Your first considerations should be the sponsor of the group, how the group is facilitated and its reputation within the medical community. You also should find out when and where the group meets and whether there is a cost to participate. Other considerations include whether the group is single-gender or mixed and whether it is geared toward people of a particular sexual orientation. Finally, if you are interested in the possibility of meeting potential romantic partners who share your condition, you might try to find out whether the group sponsors social activities.
For many people, a diagnosis of genital herpes or any other sexually transmitted infection (STI) can be embarrassing and frightening, even if the condition is well-managed with medicine and lifestyle changes. To cope with your diagnosis and to receive support, you might find joining a herpes support group to be extremely helpful. One good way to learn about groups in your area is to talk to your healthcare provider and ask whether he or she has any recommendations. Other sources of referrals for a good herpes support group include family planning clinics and social service agencies.
Contact the group's organizer by phone or e-mail so that you can ask questions about how the group is structured. Some groups are peer-led, and others might be facilitated by a medical or counseling professional. If you have recently been diagnosed with herpes, consider joining a group that offers a lot of educational programs, and ask whether formal education is part of the group's programming. Another thing to ask about is confidentiality. No group organizer can absolutely ensure that others will keep their knowledge of your condition secret, but some groups might emphasize confidentiality more than others by insisting that participants use only their first names.
Be sure that you will be able to participate in the group by asking about fees, locations and scheduling. If you don't have a lot of money, look for a free herpes support group or one that allows members to donate on a sliding scale. You also should find out where and when the group meets if your selection of a herpes support group is based on how convenient it is for you to participate.