Genital Herpes. HSV (both I & II). The gift that keeps on giving. While highly stigmatized, it’s only been since WWI and II that the stigma was placed, due to initial outbreaks being very painful and demoralizing, and young soldiers getting stationed outside their normal social circles.

In reality, some 15-20% of sexually active adults have it, either in active or asymptomatic form (which is how I caught mine) and 700,000 new cases arise each year in the U.S  Approximately 80% of people infected are unaware, as it’s initial outbreak can range from non-existent, to a slight irritation that can be passed off as chafing, to full-blown lesions that make life a living hell for two to four weeks. I and my partner at the time had the latter, caught from the former.

HSV is a retro-virus, which means that it inserts itself into your genetic code. Once you have it, you have it for life. Once your body adjusts to the virus and produces anti-bodies (in my case, it took about 2 years for lesions to stop happening on a regular basis) they become infrequent. With care, such as using water-based lubricants during intercourse (including a few drops inside a condom for you guys), you can even go decades without an outbreak. My last outbreak was solely from getting a stomach bug and a sinus infection at the same time, so my immune system was overtaxed. Even then, it was a tiny lesion that passed within a day or two.

One thing you HAVE to take precautions about with HSV is that because it’s part of your genetic code, you’ll always be throwing virii out in affected tissues, even if you’re not having an active outbreak. This is called viral shedding, and a source for asymptomatic carriers to pass the virus along. If you’re having regular intercourse with someone, and, say, it’s a special occasion and things get a bit spicy for hours, it’s possible that you can transmit the virus to a degree that the viral load exceeds what their immune system can handle, and now they’re infected.

Genital Herpes, however, isn’t an end to your dating life. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. Your date may be reluctant to move onto more physical things because they’re afraid to broach the subject because they, too, have it, and don’t want to burden another person with the possibility of catching it. By being upfront and forthright, you can be honest and also possibly create a bond. I myself had this happen with a woman I was emotionally intimate with, but she wouldn’t get physical. I never pressed the issue, but one night things progressed and I confessed that I had it before it could go further. Let’s just say…I still have the scars on my neck and back from that night.

In summary, while it’s a short-term problem, the over-stigmatization has done LESS for awareness than helped. It’s still a taboo despite being in the same family of virus as chickenpox and shingles. When I was a child, before the chickenpox vaccine was developed, parents would babysit affected children so their children would catch it, rather than having them catch it as teens or adults, which could result in infertility/blindness/deafness/neurological problems. Just be cautious, be safe, and be responsible by being smart and courteous to your partners.

  • Valtrex

    Valtrex is used for the treatment of the herpes virus in patients who seek therapy within 72 hours of finding the rash, for the treatment of ophthalmic herpes, for the treatment of recurrent cold sores, for the treatment of clinical episodes of genital herpes simplex infections, for the prevention of recurrent genital herpes, and reduction of transmission of genital herpes in patients suffering from recurrent genital herpes.

    From $80.54

    Valtrex

    From $80.54

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