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Herpes Stigma and life after Herpes

Ever since people become sexually active one of the things that they scared the most is Herpes. There are actually eight different types of herpes that includes HSV 1 , HSV2, Varicella Zoster(causing chickenpox), Epstein-Barr virus and Cytomegalovirus etc. We will be discussing herpes simplex virus 1 & 2. The HSV1 statistic indicates that the virus is so common, that nearly 67% of the world’s population is infected with it at least once in their lifetime. HSV 1 typically appears on your mouth whereas HSV-2 appears on the genitals. A lot more people have type 1 (HSV 1) which is fortunate because it tends to be less aggressive than type 2 (HSV 2).

How do you get herpes?

You can get herpes from literally any sexual contact. Oral sex you can transmit it from your mouth to someone’s genitals, vaginal sex, through anal sex or even just dry-humping rubbing because all it takes is contact with an active infection and some friction. The plot twist is that a lot of people don’t know they have an active infection because there aren’t any symptoms. So yes,  you can still get herpes even if you thoroughly visually inspect someone’s genitals before having sex. Condoms and dental dams will lower your risks but there’s no way to completely eliminate the possibility of herpes. You can get tested with your partner beforehand but herpes screening is not usually considered part of normal STD screening. Mostly because herpes very rarely causes health complications. Notably, you did not get herpes from hot tubs, toilet seats, doorknobs etc. There’s a little chance that herpes could survive for a very short amount of time on wet towels, as well as sex toys.

So what a surprise actually look like?

And this is sex education typically fails everyone. They’ll show you like a super puss-y, bubbly mess, yes, some people do have bad outbreaks. Outbreaks usually include a few little blisters that pop up eventually break and then take a few weeks to heal. Bad outbreaks can be pretty painful. But for most people it’s actually relatively mild, maybe a little redness, some bumps, it might look like an insect bite. Herpes can survive around the anus, the labia, the penis but also in places that you can’t see like in the cervix in the vagina. The first outbreak is usually the worst. Over time outbreaks will get milder as your immune system gets accustomed to it. Herpes is a viral STI which means that there is no cure, but there is treatment. Antiviral medications are very effective at suppressing the virus. This will help you control outbreaks and also make sure that you don’t pass it on to a partner. There are also three vaccines that are being studied to prevent herpes in the first place. Now, if you’re worried that you might have herpes, please do not self-diagnose. Leave it to the experts People freaked themselves out so many times especially teenagers in younger age, think they had herpes and it just turns out to be a razor burn. You definitely want to go to a doctor for a diagnosis it might be a physical test which is actually the least accurate or a swab test or a blood or urine test as well to confirm that you had herpes and which strain it is.

What’s the worst part of having herpes?

It could be painful and itchy sometimes but there are antivirals for that. If you are pregnant you have to make sure that you talk to your doctor to make sure you don’t transmit it to your baby but that can be done too. For most people, the worst part of herpes isn’t any of these things it’s the social stigma.

Also read : How contagious is Herpes? and ways to prevent its outbreak

Social stigma and why Herpes isn’t a big deal

A positive herpes diagnosis can feel devastating like it’s the end of the world your life will never be the same. Your relationships will never be the same. The truth is herpes is not dangerous, it’s completely manageable. Your life will go back to normal. Herpes stigma in society is the direct result of sexuality being taboo and shameful, but that ridiculous. Think about it, people think that herpes on your mouth is different than herpes on your genitals. They’re the same exact virus. The only difference is that one is more explicitly tied to sex than the other. Until fairly recently people didn’t really see herpes is a big deal, it wasn’t until antivirals hit the market that language around herpes became much more negative and stigmatizing. After all, it’s sold drugs. We all need to do our part to fight the stigma because we as a society do more damage to people who have herpes then the actual herpes virus itself as a problem.

Life after Herpes

So if you get a positive diagnosis one has to start checking that Sigma first. Another thing that’s going to change, you’ll have to tell new partners about it first. It might seem awkward and comfortable particularly at first but it’s going to get easier and it’s going to make you a way better communicator about sex. This is stuff people should be talking about. Another part of life after herpes is management’s that might mean antiviral drugs, it might mean keeping track of your outbreaks, all things to reduce your outbreaks and to reduce transmission. Lastly, it may be helpful to see a counselor to help you in processing this.As mentioned the mental health effects are often far worse for people than the physical effects. So take care of yourself when you’re going through some struggles.The counselor can be there to remind you this is a part of life, a lot of people go through this, let’s manage this in a healthy way.