About Ella


Ella Dawson is a feminist millennial who cares too much about The Bachelor. Social media manager by day and sex writer by night, her work has been published by MTV Founders, Women’s Health, Femsplain, Gadgette, and more. Find her on Twitter as @brosandprose.

Gabe Rosenberg is the editor and braintrust behind this blog. Find him on Twitter as @GabrielJR.

For press or business inquiries, contact brosandprose@gmail.com. Please do not email Ella for advice, as she is not the only person who reads this inbox due to harassment concerns.

~ Donate to Ella’s sanity fund! ~

Being dubbed the “queen of herpes” by the Internet has its downsides. Ella faces daily sexual harassment and the occasional violent swarm of targeted violence online. If her blog made a difference to you, consider sending her a $5 donation (or more, if you’re feeling generous). CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

~ Comment Policy ~

All comments are approved by a moderator before they are published on this website. Comments that are disrespectful, hostile, or have the potential to harm readers will not be posted. Ask yourself this: would my comment be dangerous to a newly diagnosed, potentially suicidal teenager? Then it won’t appear here.

40 thoughts on “About Ella

  1. Hey Ella! I just wanted to tell you that when I was diagnosed 2 years ago with herpes I thought my life was over. Sex wise and relationship wise. Even though I was dating the guy who gave it to me I thought no one would look at me the same again. That I’d be a whore. But, now 2 years later I’m 6 months into an amazing marriage to a guy who doesn’t even care about it. And I wanted to thank you for helping me cope with the diagnosis and help me get to the point of dating and sex again. Which led me to my amazing husband. So thank you.

  2. You are an amazing woman.
    Matching diagnosises aside, I just want to be your friend. Lol
    You inspire me on a feminist level. On an intelligence level. On a boss lady doing so much for mankind, level.
    Thank you for being you.
    For keeping a lot of us off the ledge of diving into insanity.
    For reminding us that we aren’t a fucking statistic or a status, we are still PEOPLE. With brains and personalities and jobs and lives.
    I’ve only been diagnosed for about 5 months, and the roller coaster of emotions is all too real.
    I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I say thank you. From the deepest part of my soul. THANK YOU.
    You give us all an indescribable level of comfort and assuredness in sharing our diagnoses and, almost a green light to continue to celebrate our lives.

    For every jerk who throws you hate, there are hundreds of us thanking the universe for you.


  3. Thank you for being open enough to discuss this STI with grace and humor.

    I am a 56 year old woman with herpes. I was diagnosed with HSV-2 when I was 19 years old. That was 37 years ago in 1979. Who wore condoms I the ’70’s? My mother took me to the doctor when my first outbreak occurred, I had a bladder infection on top of that, so assumed that was the reason for the pain and possible flu like symptoms. I never, ever expected to be diagnosed with HSV-2. Hell, I didn’t even know what herpes was. My mother said, well you have ruined your life. Later in her life my mother was also diagnosed with HSV-2. I consider that God’s little joke. I have been married twice and have a teenage son. Yes, I will have herpes until there is a cure, but my life didn’t end. I have been sexually cautious but not celibate. It’s a condition, not a life sentence.

  4. You are amazing! I am more than twice your age and didn’t handle my recent diagnosis as courageously as you did. Your TED talk was awesome……poised, professional, funny and spot on! I had tears in my eyes because I want your level of courage. Having worked a lot on mindfulness helped me handle the diagnosis (not slut shame myself as Dan Savage would say) but……I am still grappling with how forthright I”ll need to be with new sex partners. Keep going….your work is making a difference.

  5. I have been diagnosed in the last two weeks and okay my worst outbreak is (hopefully) out of the way now and I do feel better emotionally than even 4 days ago but finding your blog has given me both the facts and also hope so I am better prepared for whatever the future brings. Reading your post about losing your post-herpes virginity I realise how similar you and I were pre-H but since the diagnosis. Until reading your site and talking with a close friend I now realise that actually I don’t have to be forever alone and I can still live any lifestyle I wish as long as I take a few precautions. Thank you so much, your site is a life saver.

  6. I was diagnosed today after finding out that the man I have been with for several years has cheated on me. I am so glad I found your posts, I really needed this. You made me feel like I am less alone.

  7. I felt so awful when I was diagnosed this week. I felt like my life was ruined. Upon all of my constant research, I stumbled upon your blog and articles of yours that have been published. YOU ARE AMAZING. You have given me hope. This virus is NOT who I am and my love life is not over forever. You are so courageous and I don’t know if I’ve ever looked up to someone so much. Being famous for writing is my dream and I also have always wanted to make a difference in the world somehow. You are doing both and I think its the dopest thing ever. The world needs people like you to end the herpes stigma. Never stop being you and thank you for being a voice for us all.

  8. Thank you for helping me not feel so alone. I found out yesterday and honestly feeling a lot of shame and guilt. On top of a number of other not so great feelings. Again thank you for giving me HOPE

  9. Your blog is amazing! I am someone that has herpes also, I’ve had it for almost four years now. It was the hardest thing ever! It affected my schooling, my life, and my dating life. The guy that gave it to me told everyone that I knew that I was a whore or a slut. He even went with me when I found out and refused to take a test to see if he had it. Later he told me he has it and he gave it to me. This was the hardest thing to tell my mom, me and her did so much research on it. I now am dating a wonderful guy that is okay with the whole thing. He is there by my side! Ella I’m so glad you take about you having it, I have been thinking about doing the same I just haven’t been able to do it!

  10. Just want to reiterate what has already been said – I discovered your Ted Talk and was blown away with your honesty, frankness and humour. You’re an inspiration!
    If there is anything I can do to help you, then please let me know. You’ve helped me so much already with just being you. Thank you ❤

  11. Ella, It probably does not mean much to you, but I am sorry that you have experienced the pain that you have. Both from this STD, and from hostile men and women who have judged you. I disagree with some things you say, but my heart goes out for you! You are in my prayers!

  12. Ella – Thank you for standing up and being you when thousands of [mostly white, male, asshole] people are screaming in your face to stop. Thank you for not being silenced. Thank you for teaching me that I probably have herpes. You are a total badass!

  13. Great blog – I really enjoyed your medium article. I’m sorry you have had to go through so much harassment but I’m not surprised. Practically half or more ( i’d say way more) of the adult population has herpes of some sort so all those Neanderthal males telling you to jump off buildings got to get them self tested and then follow their own advice. Thanks for being so honest and helping others protect themselves!

  14. Hi Ella,
    I adore reading your blog, and you really hit it out of the park with the lexapro post. I too have been on lexapro for about eight months and it has for sure been quite the ride. How you described anxiety (as well as the unique anxieties that come along with it..:) was perfect and it echoed my thoughts entirely. Something that really startled me was how my close friends were startled when they found out I took it. It was so taboo, my best friend of ten years only then confessed she was on Prozac for the past two years. It shouldn’t be like this! But I understand it is hard to open up…and it is so refreshing to have someone who is so brave and fearless to share their stories and make others not feel alone. I wish I had an ounce of your courage to be myself, fearlessly. Hopefully with reading your blog and learning from you I one day can be. and I’ll stop before I get too sappy! Keep on keeping on, girl.

  15. This morning I attended a HIPPA training for my workplace. I am a hospital employee and was completely astounded when it included shaming of a Herpes positive person. First talking about how an imaginary patient had herpes and everyone had a good laugh about it, followed later by the line “You wouldn’t want it to get out that you have Herpes simplex two, would you?” As someone that has long ago been diagnosed with both simplex one and two, I was sincerely hurt and considering quitting the job.

    On a completely different subject thank you so much for your TED talk and your blog. It has done wonders for me as someone that has recently had to wonder about disclosing to someone again after a very long relationship. I never expected to have to have this discussion with a partner again. It was so comforting to read your words and I have been reading them over and over.

  16. I was recently diagnosed and I’ve really been struggling. The only thing that has help to hold back the tears, and remind me that I am not herpes, that I have herpes, is your articles and videos. I am so thankful that there is someone out there, that has gone through the same thing I am going through right now to offer some guidance. I still haven’t decided how I am going to let my diagnosis impact my life, but I feel it won’t be so negative with the help of your blog. Thanks Ella!

    • Jenny, there are so many people, especially women, who have also experienced the pain that you are going through, myself included! I just thought I would share another great online resource that I use as well- http://www.pinktent.com. Its specifically geared towards women with herpes, and has some additional resources on top of the ones that Ella has provided that could be useful in your journey towards healing!

  17. Hey I don’t know any other way to get in contact with you, but can you please email or Facebook message me, ella. I received some pretty strange messages from somoene that seems to have found me from your Facebook page and is now asking me if me or any of my friends with herpes will go to the middle of nowhere in India to spread awareness of herpes….. I just wanted to know if you had heard from this person before or if he’s harassing other people or if there really is an organization..

  18. I’m not sure how to contact you, other than this. I would like to know what I can do to spread awareness and break this stigma that surrounds our diagnosis. I was self diagnosed less than two months ago and I haven’t been dealing with it very well. I know that I can do small things, like talk about it and have those one on one conversations. The thing is, I want to do more. I don’t want to make a small change. I want more than that, I want to make an impact. If you have any advice on the steps I can take to do this, please let me know.

  19. Well, let me say as a 45 year old man without herpes that your blog makes perfect sense to me. I don’t have HSV1 or 2. The stigma around herpes is way out of proportion. HSV1 and 2 are essentially the same type of virus. Nobody freaks out about HSV1 (cold sores) because it’s usually above the waist. Suddenly we get the same thing on our genitals and there’s a whole bunch of stigma because society in general has all sorts of hangups with sexuality.

    Even then…
    Just think about HPV. Just about everyone sexually active has gotten HPV at one point. There are a huge number of strains. HPV causes cancer some of the time, but there’s not even a test for it for guys. So even the more dangerous, more widespread disease has far less stigma than a more isolated, slight annoyance disease. Yeah. That makes sense…not.

    While I may incorporate HSV into my evaluation process, it’s way lower to me than who people are in more important areas.

  20. I’ve known for a couple of years of my diagnosis but have been avoiding it. I’m ashamed to have had partners in that time and not confided in them about it due to fear and I’m so sorry. But reading this has given me so much hope. I’ve been so scared and depressed about it and googled everything under the sun and still found little peace. Finding your blog today has made such a postive effect I no longer feel so alone and excited to start on my journey of acceptance. You are a truely inspiring woman Thankyou

    • You’re not alone at all!! I have had the exact same problem, probably something to do with denial making us feel “””””normal.”””” If it’s any consolation, its a minuscule chance you gave them herpes, so don’t worry! You’ve done nothing wrong to get herpes either, these things happen to everyone and luckily herpes is extremely manageable! Lots of love to you

  21. Wow. You are so courageous. I applaud you on being so open, when people are so close minded. I was diagnosed at the ripe age of 16, fell into drugs to cover up the pain I never dealt with because I was raped by my boyfriend at the time. Today I am 28 years old, a mother, wife, established career woman and never thought I would end up like this because i too, have herpes. I wish people could understand that we are not dirty, sluts, promiscuous people. I could go on and on but ANYWAYS, you are amazing and please keep doing what you’re doing.

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  24. Hi Ella,

    I was diagnosed recently aged 21. I promised myself to stop researching herpes as it would drive me mad & make me over-think it. However, it’s a good job I came across your video & blog before I did. Thanks for providing such a positive outlook & (in a way) personifying herpes – considering it is something portrayed as ‘alien’/ ‘other’ rather than something many of us HUMANS have (wuut?!).
    Thank you for your integrity and the support that I’m sure you are providing so many people, including myself. Keep it going, you’re truly an inspiration to fellow humans!

    All the best 🙂

  25. Thank you so much Ella.
    I was diagnosed 4 years ago during a loving relationship with a man who did not realise he had herpes. Since then I have kept this hidden as much as possible. It is the source of much negative self talk and fear regarding future relationships. You are starting a wonderful change and it is so nice to read through a blog that i can 100% relate to, on a topic that i have tried, until recently, to detach from.
    You have a lovely way of writing and you are putting your skills and vibrancy to wonderful use.
    Thank you for the inspiration and congratulations on being you.

  26. Your blog is an inspiration and I’m so glad you’re bringing this to light. It’s so hard to talk about something that’s so common yet so not talked about. I felt so ashamed when I got it and could not see how I could live the rest of my life but I realize that there are many worse things out there that could take my life literally. So I applaud you for your work and your time. Bravo my sister!!~

  27. I’m 58. Acquired the virus 40 years ago. Had a successful marriage and two kids. I am healthy in every way. It’s not a curse or affliction. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you human, and frankly I wouldn’t trade it for the hundreds of other possible diseases that others carry.

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  30. I just wanted to let you know that you are an inspiration and I truly commend you for what you are doing. I’m a 27 year old guy who has been living with this in silence for 3 years and I sympathize with everything you write about. I wish you the best!

    • I just found out today by my doctor’s result and I feel depressed and devastated…a couple days shy of my 27th birthday. I feel lost and your post and this site, gives me a little comfort. I don’t know where to turn and I feel embarrassed for my situation. 😦 I wish you the best

      • ❤ Feel all the things and cry and be angry. Lean on the people you love (heavily). Be strong. Love yourself as fiercely as possible. It's going to be okay. This birthday will probably suck, but the next one… the next one is going to be amazing, I promise.

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