Thread: Herpes
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Old 02-07-2014, 06:24 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: US
Posts: 1,411
Default Herpes

First of all, let me say I fully support people's need to determine their own level of risk regarding sexual health. That's something I want people to do more of!

There have been a number of threads here where various posters have noted that they would not want to expose themselves or their partners to herpes because of the risks to health.

Seriously, I ask - what risk to health? What risks are one avoiding by not having sex with someone who has herpes?

Unless one is a pregnant (or wants to become pregnant) woman, there is little risk of any serious issues. Herpes - whether I (mouth cold sores) or II (genital lesions) -is a skin disease. It causes the occasional lesion which usually go away eventually. It can be really unpleasant and some people find it painful. But no one has ever died from herpes, unlike HPV, or HIV. No one has ever gone mad from herpes like advanced syphilis. It doesn't cause sterility like gonorhea.

I get there is a significant stigma. Rarely, I develop a cold sore around my mouth- I probably got HSV-1 from my parents or grandparents when I was a child. I don't have genital herpes and would really like to avoid it. So on one level, I get why people don't want to have sex with people with herpes. But I'm not avoiding sex with people with genital herpes because of health risks. I avoid them because I don't want to deal with the stigma of genital herpes - especially because I already have been exposed to HPV and have cold sores.

I do wonder if people who won't have sex with people with known herpes are doing so to avoid the stigma and using health risk as a cover.

I also wonder how people avoid having sex with people who have herpes in some form. More than 50% of adults in the US have HSV-1 - the herpes virus that causes cold sores around the mouth. About 1 in 6 people in the US have genital herpes - HSV-2. And the vast majority of people with HSV-2 have no idea they are infected. Herpes can shed - be infectious - without any symptoms. Lots of people have no idea that cold sores are HSV-1. So when one asks if they have herpes they will say no while saying yes, they have cold sores once in a while. Since herpes is not automatically tested for (at least in the US) even more people say they are 'clean' while not realizing they actually aren't being tested for everything. And because of the stigma, some people just don't tell. I don't agree with this - people should tell potential partners. But I get why they don't.

Here is where I got my stats: http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/std-sti.html.
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