Did someone say "herpes"? 😱
So lately I've been seeing a lot of posts about girls finding out they have genital herpes and wondering how or why they got it and just generally being unaware of the facts. Not to mention there's such a stigma around it still! So let me drop some facts on y'all that hopefully someone, somewhere on this app, will eventually find useful - even if it's just to become a little more educated! 😁
As a note, I will be using the term "herpes" to refer only to genital herpes in this post, unless otherwise specified.
1. Herpes is in the same family of viruses as chickenpox and mononucleosis. There are 2 different types of herpes: oral (HSV-1) and genital (HSV-2).
2. Oral herpes is not exclusive to the mouth - it is also capable of being spread to a partner's genitals through oral sex, causing outbreaks there.
3. It's estimated that 80% of the adult population in the United States has a herpes virus, whether it is type 1 or 2.
4. The CDC claims that 15% of people ages 14-49 have genital herpes, but 87% of those people don't know. However, scientists are still unsure if this is an accurate estimate.
5. The virus can remain dormant in the system for months or even years after infection. This is called being asymptomatic.
6. Genital herpes is more common in females than males.
7. Herpes can be spread even when using condoms - because it is spread through skin to skin contact and not bodily fluids.
8. The virus can be spread even when you are not having an outbreak - this is called asymptomatic shedding. So, while avoiding sex during an outbreak will definitely help prevent your partner from getting it, it's not a guaranteed way to prevent transmission.
9. Blood tests are accurate at telling if you have a herpes virus - but not where on your body it is located.
10. The transmission rate from an infected male to an uninfected female is 10% per year without condoms, daily antivirals and avoid sex during an outbreak.
11. The transmission rate from an infected female to an uninfected male is 4% per year if they follow the same guidelines as above.
Herpes isn't a curable disease, unfortunately, but there are many people who have it who rarely experience outbreaks. Some people have one outbreak and then never have another. It all varies from person to person.
What one should know when dealing with a herpes diagnoses is that it will likely be scary, confusing and upsetting. You might wonder "why me?" or become scared to talk to your current or future partners about it. But remember: you *have* herpes. You are not herpes. Don't let it control your life or dictate your relationships!
Additionally, the number one concern I see from most people is, "what if no one will ever want me again because I'm dirty?" First off, let's nix that language right there! You aren't "dirty" and the right person will NOT care about your STD. I have said it time and time again: if someone judges you for something out of your control (in this case, having an STD) then they aren't the kind of person that should have a place in your life.
But that still doesn't address the fact that having "the talk" with new partners can be daunting. Just remember to be honest and come armed with cold, hard facts. Be ready to answer questions. Be prepared for the possibility a new partner will choose to exit the relationship because of it. It will be hard and awkward for sure, but it's best to be open about these things.
Lastly, know you're not alone, by any means. Herpes is an extremely common disease, and can be easily managed. Your self worth isn't defined by your disease. Just remember to educate yourself, and be safe out there!