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A Brief History and Background

According to the latest figures from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, 31 million Americans are infected with the Herpes Simplex Virus, and 500,000 more Americans contract the virus each year. The Herpes Resource Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina estimates that 20% of Americans have genital herpes, and that up to 80% have some form of herpes, either oral or genital (although many are probably unaware that they have the virus). When these figures are applied to the New York area, it is estimated that 1.5 million New Yorkers have genital herpes.

Coping with the physical and emotional aspects of the disease can be difficult, even for those who have been dealing with herpes for several years. The initial shock of a herpes diagnosis can be traumatic, especially for people who have no one to talk to. We are often confused by mixed messages from the media and from our culture (from "herpes is no big deal, get over it!" to feeling like a social leper in the "disease-free" dating scene) -- it's no wonder that many people are too ashamed to reach out and seek help. For information and advice, or just a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on, HRA is the place to turn for both the newly diagnosed and the "veterans" of many years.

H.R.A. meetings incorporate the basic format of other 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, but with an added emphasis on medical information and question-and-answer sessions as well as emotional support. In addition, H.R.A. organizes social events throughout the year. In past years, we have held picnics, a dance, a loft party, and get-togethers at area bars and restaurants.

From 1994 to 1996, H.R.A. meetings were held at a church on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Due to financial reasons, H.R.A. was forced to discontinue meetings at that location. H.R.A. found a new home at Cabrini Medical Center in the summer of 1997.

About H.R.A.

Herpes Recovery Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so that they may solve their common problems and help others to recover from herpes. The only requirement for membership is a desire to recover. There are no dues or fees for H.R.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. H.R.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, political group, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; and neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to recover from herpes and help others to achieve recovery. (With permission of A.A. Grapevine)

Who We Are

Founded on the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, we are a group of recovering men and women who have the herpes virus. When first diagnosed with this disease, many of us were devastated and filled with shame. Some of us became self-destructive, acting out with alcohol, drugs, food, money or sex(some even thought of suicide as an alternative to living with an incurable and (they thought) shameful disease like herpes. Others became angry and vengeful, seeking to hurt those who may have infected them, or giving the disease to unsuspecting partners. "Who would ever want me?" we thought. "Herpes is ruining my life!" we said to ourselves. Some of us became depressed and withdrew from relationships. Herpes became the scapegoat for all our failures in life: lack of relationships, job problems, marriage difficulties, poor self-esteem, weight problems, depression... Whether we admitted it or not, our lives had become unmanageable. At this point, we were ready to take the First Step: "We admitted we were powerless over herpes and our lives had become unmanageable." Now, through the process of recovery in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of H.R.A., we are leading lives we never dreamed possible, grateful for the personal growth that came with herpes.

The Twelve Steps of H.R.A.

(The Twelve steps are reprinted and adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt this material is affiliated with this program. A.A. is a program of recovery from alcoholism only, and is not affiliated with the programs patterned after A.A.)

1. We admitted we were powerless over herpes, and that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of a higher power as we understood it.
4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to our higher power, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have our higher power remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked our higher power to remove all our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all people we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory, and, when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer or meditation to improve our conscious contact with our higher power.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others with herpes, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


H.R.A. is not a dating service or a place to pick up sex partners. It is an anonymous fellowship run by its members with a focus on personal growth and recovery from the physical and emotional problems associated with having the herpes virus. There are no dues or fees for membership. H.R.A. is not affiliated with any other 12 step recovery program, business or corporation. We "pass the hat" at meetings to pay for the room, voice mail, website maintenance, literature, and other expenses.

Serenity Prayer

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."