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A Novel Way to Meetup with Others

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Spotlight on the Triangle H Meetup Group

Meetup.comWhat do you do if you are interested in meeting other people with herpes in your area for support and social events, but there isn’t an established HELP or other support group nearby? For Meredith, a North Carolina resident, the answer was meetup.com, an online network of tens of thousands of local groups that enables users to reach out and make connections locally. The site is home to groups of dog lovers, French speakers, scrapbookers and more  . . . so why not people with H?

Meredith launched the Triangle (NC) Area H Meetup a few months after her original diagnosis last year. While Meredith admits having a difficult time with her diagnosis at first, starting a group locally and meeting others helped with the adjustment. “Starting the meetup.com group, just one year ago, was a blessing for me,” Meredith says. “I started this group after receiving the ‘gift’ in early 2007, as I was seeking support and fellowship. To gain a great group of friends for fun social activities and support was what I needed most. This group has so many wonderful people. Hearing their struggles, life experiences, and sharing stories . . . I understand how common herpes is, that it’s a manageable skin irritation,and that my life isn’t over. It’s a condition that I refuse to let define me.”

According to the meetup.com site, the Triangle Area H group is one of the largest H-related groups on the site, with more than 100 members. The group is for people of all ages who have herpes (HSV 1 or HSV 2) and would like to meet other people sharing their experiences. The goal of the group is to not only become an active online community, but also a local community of friends who can enjoy and support one another.

Indeed, while providing a support network for members, the group also serves a social function. Individuals arrange events, or meetups, via the site and all interested members can attend. Events run the gamut from a night at the theater or a local comedy club, to a backyard barbeque. As Meredith comments, “I am really proud of our diversity and we take great care in providing an informal, relaxed atmosphere at our events that allow our members to network with others in our area with H! While not all group members attend“offline”  events, Meredith is hopeful. “I hope that those that haven’t participated in a group activity yet will venture out to meet others,” she comments. “NO one needs to deal with this alone.” Like many others, Meredith found that this support from others is what helped move her toward  acceptance. “It helps that I have found a great group of friends that are very understanding and supportive,” she notes. “For those that are having some difficult times? Slowly, with help and support, things will start to look up.”

To find (or start) a meetup in your area, check out meetup.com.

 

HELP Group Spotlight: Detroit HELP

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Since the 1980s, ASHA’s community-based network of affiliated HELP groups has offered support and information for anyone with questions about herpes. The Helper continues its profile of these groups by chatting with Gary, the lead coordinator of Metro Detroit HELP.

How did you become involved with Metro Detroit HELP?
After attending my first meeting here, I not only came back but also started going to meetings of groups on other cities on a regular basis!  The facilitator in Detroit at the time asked if I would help out, which I did and in the late 1990s, leadership of the group was handed to me.  

What typically occurs at a meeting?
That largely depends on who shows up. If it’s a “newbie” we go in a different direction than if only regulars are there, but generally we do brief introductions and anyone who wants to talk about their story is invited to do so.

What topics do the members usually want to discuss?
Most often questions are about medication, and things like what to expect with outbreaks. Dating issues are important too, and this usually involves discussions around partner notification, such as when in the relationship to talk about herpes, what to say, and so on. This is one area where the “old timers” in the group are really valuable in sharing their experiences with someone who’s newly diagnosed.

What would you tell someone who’s thinking of attending a meeting, but not quite sure?
GO! As hard as it is going to the first meeting, it will be a valuable first step to take. Anyone with questions about the group can find us online at www.metrodetroithelp.org. Our e-mail address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Those who don’t live near a HELP Group can connect with ASHA staff and others online through our HSV Message Board, a free and anonymous service from ASHA.

 

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