Monday, September 19, 2011

The social stigma that surrounds herpes is kind of over the top. And when I mean kind of, I mean it's to the point of almost complete idiocy. Why do I say that? Is it because I have herpes and I'm trying to make myself feel better? Actually, no. Before I got it, I was probably a little too promiscuous. After I was diagnosed, it was a wake up call to help me become a healthier human being. And honestly, I'm probably more healthy now than I was before. But that's not what I'm here to talk about.

So what is herpes exactly? First of all, it's a virus, not a bacteria. So if you ever get it, it's there to stay with you forever and ever. Lame, I know, but until there's a cure for it, the only thing you can do is treat it and that' it. But! All is not lost. Today's treatments can drastically reduce or in sometimes eliminate outbreaks, but you MUST take care of yourself!!

There are two types of Herpes; Simplex 1 and 2. About 50 to 90% of the population actually have Simplex 1; have you ever gotten an embarrassing cold sore on your mouth? Well, that was herpes rearing it's ugly head. Simplex 1 is primarily an oral disease, but it's becoming more commonly associated with genital herpes as well. How is that? Well, for example, if you have a cold sore on your mouth, you can give (genital) herpes to your partner by performing oral sex on them. Some symptoms of an outbreak ready to happen on your mouth is: feeling like you're coming down with a cold and/ or a tingling feeling on your lips. If you exhibit these signs, make sure to stop using lip sticks, lip balms, chap sticks; don't share drinks with ANYONE, especially with someone who has a poor immune system; and don't, DON'T have oral sex with anyone! I'm quite sure this is how I got it and honestly, it's kind of annoying.

Why do so many people have oral herpes? Have you heard of something called kissing? It doesn't have to be a passionate kiss; a mom giving a quick kiss to a child on the mouth to say good bye can infect them with the disease. It's not just a sex thing; sexually active and non sexually active people alike suffer from it. The reason why so few people know about it is because it 1. doesn't intrude that often and 2 drs. don't really think about diagnosing it.

Simplex 2 is just restricted to genital herpes; if you have Simplex 1 or 2 and you feel like you're about to have an outbreak, make sure you completely restrict contact orally AND genitally. Some signs that you're going to have an outbreak: a tingling feeling on your genitals; feeling like a UTI is coming, or/ and intense itching. About 1 in 6 people in the US suffer from genital herpes, and about 1 in 4 women suffers from genital herpes. The reason why women are  more likely to get it then men is because women have a greater area for contact (that's why women have higher rates of STDs in general; it's not because of sexual promiscuity).  Herpes is considered one of the most prominent STDs in the freakin' world, no matter where you go.

Oddly enough, I've never had an outbreak on my mouth (knock on wood it stays that way), but I found that when I apply a broken, liquid Vitamin e tablet to my sores and the surrounding area, the itching and discomfort is DRASTICALLY reduced and the sores are clearly minimal. If you are having an outbreak, make sure to take your anti biotics and retro virals as well.

OK, after that lengthy intro, why is herpes so stigmatized? Because I'll be honest, my first and only outbreak thus far was probably the most painful thing I felt in my life. For a week and a half, I thought I suffered a UTI sent from the devil himself. After getting a swab because I had a bunch of little blisters that accompanied my UTI, I found out that I had herpes. For the first couple weeks, I was pretty depressed. Then I realized life goes on. I found that taking a huge vitamin combination, exercise and eating right (you know, stuff you should be doing anyway) would keep me outbreak free. So after almost two months, my vagina's pretty happy and I'm outbreak free.

So when you get herpes, sex is gone forever and ever. Not true. If you do carry herpes, how likely is it your partner is going to get it? Well, if you're taking retrovirals and you're not having sex during outbreaks, it's pretty damn low. Like 1-2% chance kind of low. The reason why it's spread around so much is because there are a lot of people who don't know they have herpes and give it to others. Those who take care of it are a lot less likely to give it their partner than someone who has no idea about their status. Herpes can lay dormant for months, even years, so it's best to get tested before and after each partner you have.

How do you find out your status? Surprisingly, most STD tests don't cover Herpes or HIV; you have to specially request for those. It's done by a special blood test, which is pretty accurate; or if you have sores, you can request for a swab test, which is almost perfectly accurate. (The chances of the swab test being wrong is almost non existent). If you do have herpes, do not have sex with those carrying HIV/ AIDS. Your immune system is already somewhat damaged, and getting infected can be incredibly bad.

If you have herpes, the world's not over and life will still be good. If necessary, talk to a trusting and loving friend, and if you don't have that, go to an online support group. Also, dating shouldn't be forever and ever over. If you inform your partner before you get intimate (not just of your status, but everything you know about the disease), you'd be surprised how well most people take it.  First, take a couple weeks to get to know someone and then tell them; that way, they can see you are more than a disease- you are a dynamic human being and you deserve to be treated as such. If your potential partner is totally turned off by the disease, then find someone who will love you and accept you no matter  what.They aren't worth your time if the only thing they see in you is a disease. In the end, herpes is just an annoying skin disease that needs to be taken care of.

Thanks for reading!

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