Earlier this week, news broke that 38-year-old “Confessions” singer Usher has genital herpes. Court papers obtained by RadarOnline.com revealed Usher Raymond IV paid a former sex partner to whom he transmitted the infection a cool $1.1 million in a 2012 court settlement. The woman, identified in reports only as a celebrity stylist, accused Usher of “consciously and purposefully” withholding his STI status from her and alleged he “continued to have unprotected sex” with her. (Usher was reportedly diagnosed with herpes in 2009 or 2010.)

And that part is inarguably fucked up. Denying someone else control over their own sexual health by lying to them about your STI status? Hell no. Not cool. Having herpes in the first place? Um, pretty common. Not curable, but absolutely manageable, and nothing to be ashamed of. Which is not a message that some of the Internet seems to have gotten.

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Genital herpes is perhaps the most stigmatized STI despite the fact that, according to the CDC, some one in six people in the U.S. from 14 to 49 has it. If you think you don’t know someone with herpes, you are wrong. They just haven’t told you — possibly due to that stigma. While there is something wrong with lying to your sex partner, there is nothing shameful about having herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), the virus that typically causes genital herpes.

Herpes is transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has it. (Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) — which, guess what, two out of three adults in the world has — can lead to genital infection through oral sex. Usually, though, it just causes cold sores.) People with herpes may not even know they have it. In fact, the CDC reports that the majority of people who have it don’t.

And while herpes can’t be cured, medication can shorten and even prevent outbreaks. Herpes stigma is real, and people who have it often face huge challenges in their social and especially their sex and dating lives. But here’s what herpes is not: It is not a marker of how “moral” you are. It is not a sign that you are “dirty.” A herpes diagnosis is not banishment from the dating world, and it’s not the end of a lifetime of sexy, happy, healthy relationships. Herpes is a virus, plain and simple. Anyone making fun of someone who has it, celebrity or otherwise, needs to check their impulse to ostracize others based on their health status. So sure, judge Usher for lying to his partner. Judge him for undermining a woman's ability to make informed decisions about her sex life. But leave his STI status itself out of it.

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