Sunday, August 17, 2008

Misinformation.

Sadly, misinformation is rampant when it comes to herpes. Many otherwise credible people are just not updated on herpes, I guess because it tends to be a taboo topic. A stigma. So it's another case where ignorance is bliss, even amongst doctors. And now The New York Times, who have recently published a comprehensive overview about genital herpes on their website which, sadly, is absolutely chock full of misinformation. Shouldn't this be illegal?

I'm going to clarify some of the misinformation in the article here on my blog, although I wish there was a way I could edit their site. It makes me sad that when newly diagnosed people, or those who have a new love interest diagnosed with it, go to google this virus, they will find lies on otherwise credible websites.

Women have an 80 - 90% chance of contracting HSV-2 after unprotected sexual activity with an infected partner and are 4 times more likely to be infected than men.

This is only referring to a partner who is having an active, obvious outbreak. What person in their right mind would engage in sex with someone who has open sores on their genitals? Why isn't it mentioned that there is only a 8% chance PER YEAR that a woman will become infected if she just avoids sex during outbreaks? Those odds are lowered to 4% if a condom is used OR if the man is on daily suppresive meds, and down to 2% of both of those precautions are taken. Again, that's PER YEAR. a very, very small risk. (And those numbers are halved when talking about female to male transmission!)

Shedding of genital HSV-1 is less common than with HSV-2, but transmission obviously still occurs, as evidenced by the rising prevalence of genital HSV-1.

Grrr. Actually, genital HSV-1 is almost always transmitted via someone's oral cold sores. The source of GHSV-1 is VERY RARELY another person with GHSV-1. I know it would be easily assumed that the cause of GHSV-1 is GHSV1, especially when the New York Times is assuming such, but it's not. It's cold sores.

Pregnant women who are infected with either herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) or herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) genital herpes have a higher risk for miscarriage, premature labor, retarded fetal growth, or transmission of the herpes infection to the infant while in the uterus or at the time of delivery.

It would have been nice to mention that neonatal herpes is EXTREMELY RARE. It is almost always caused by a brand new infection - in other words, if you are 9 months pregnant and JUST contracted genital herpes. If you already have it, the only risk is if you happen to be having an outbreak at the time of delivery. This can be almost 100% prevented from happening with medication. But if it still does, a C-section would prevent transmission from occuring. Therefore, the only herpes threat to a baby would be an incredibly stupid doctor who is ignoring a blatant herpes outbreak. Since a quarter of all women carry genital HSV-2 and many others carry genital HSV-1, and women are not even TESTED for it when pregnant, it is safe to say that this is not much of a concern.

Not least among the damaging effects of genital herpes is its impact on the social and emotional life of patients. In one survey of patients with herpes, 82% felt depressed, and 75% were worried about rejection. Over 25% had suicidal thoughts. In nearly 80% of the respondents, the disease had a profound effect on their sexual lives. The patient must notify sexual partners, past and present, about their condition, a deeply humiliating experience. Guilt and anger are common emotions, and relationships may be shattered.

Does this article somehow know better than those with herpes do as to how they should be feeling? The statistics which are quoted here are most likely from a group of very recently diagnosed people, who are still uneducated, fearful, and buying into the irrational stigma. But once one gets educated and sees firsthand how little this will affect their lives, the reality is not nearly as harsh as is being painted here. It is also wrong to assume that it is "deeply humiliating" to tell others. Personal, and possibly a little embarassing, sure. But having genital herpes means that you share the same virus as 25% of the population. It also means you have had sex at least once in your life. What is humiliating about that?

The bottom line is that when it comes to herpes, we must cut through a lot of bullcrap to get to the truth. People say "talk to your doctor" when it comes to medical matters. Unfortuantely, my doctors gave me so much misinformation about herpes, I don't even know where to begin. One told me you can't get it if you used a condom, another claimed that only 1 in 10,000 cases of genital herpes are type 1, and a third stated that since I have type 1 genitally, it will travel up and "disappear." And these are DOCTORS specifically trained in sexual health!

So, sure, you can talk to your doctor about herpes, but understand that many were last educated about it over 20 years ago, when less was known. Even those who were recently educated might have only gotten a brief textbook lesson on it. (Including relative who recently finished nursing school, actually gets cold sores, and had no idea that they could be transmitted to others genitally.) Do not take their word as the bottom line. And do not take what you hear from friends or read on the internet as the bottom line, because many of them are relying on inaccurate and outdated sources.

If you are newly diagnosed with genital herpes or just looking for ACCURATE information, I highly recommend:
http://www.westoverheights.com/freebook.html
www.racoon.com
www.herpesdiagnosis.com
www.ashastd.org

24 comments:

Rajah said...

Thanks for the nice plug for us at racoon.com :-)

This is one of the huge parts of the battle, getting the correct information out to the public. It's daunting given the misinformation that is out there, even coming out of doctors and nurses mouths. Incredible!

I really appreciate your doing your part to help erase some of the ignorance and the unfair stigma associated with this all so common issue.

ana maria said...

Thank you so much for writing this blog. Today I went to the doctor and she was a total bitch to me because I was asking her questions about my frequent outbreaks. She treated me like I was a whore for having it and said I was "exposing" my partner to it. Little does she know, my partner who i am in a monogamous relationship with gave it to me because like you said its not part of a routine check-up.
Thanks you made me feel so much better

Me said...

(on a posting streak today)

Thanks for pointing out how RARE it is for neonatal transmission of herpes.

I was terrified that my herpes would cause blindness or kill my 2nd child. The doctors CAN and SHOULD put you on Valtrex or Famvir to inhibit an outbreak prior to your due date. The OB for my 2nd pregnancy didn't, and insisted I was breaking out and I had to have a c-section. Since then, I've had 2 more children with a different OB, who had the foresight to place me on Valtrex the last 3 weeks of my pregnancies. They were all delivered safely and without transmission. (I hadn't been diagnosed when I had my firstborn).

Ariel said...

Thank you for the post. We really need to be careful all the time. I am diagnose with herpes, it was so uncomfortable the blisters and not to mention the pain. Good thing I have Zovirax stocked on my cabinet. It lessens the discomfort and stops the infection from spreading or worsening. Plus it is safe to take even when pregnant. And when breastfeeding do not take this drug! You can see the complete drug info and other meds at http://medsheaven.com/index.html

mike said...

It is important to see your doctor right away for treatment for the infection if you find yourself suffering from any herpes male symptoms. Genital herpes can be managed quite effectively if your doctor examines the male herpes symptoms soon after you become aware of them. Suffering from the disease does not mean that life, as you know it will end. You can still live a normal and active life, both outside and inside the bedroom.

With this said, the psychological effects can become a problem. Men have been known to become extremely depressed, due to fear of having more outbreaks or infecting their partner. By learning about the true risks of genital herpes, you can start to consider male herpes symptoms and outbreaks a minor nuisance instead of something to be feared.

Reference:
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I took the time of read about herpes genitals, because my stupid sister has it,Women often experience additional symptoms that include painful urination and inflammation of the anus and rectum is common for individuals participating in anal intercourse

shahrukh said...


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Anonymous said...

thanx for the info, i was just rejected for having hsv 2, so decided to read your blog again, works like a therapy for me, the guy i really fell for ( and he seems fall for me as well) have a herpes fobia, and although he had feelings for me he said he woulnt be ever able to pass herpes line and accept it, i do think for guys its a lot harder to accept a wooman with herpes, the same as its harder for them to realize his woman had sex before him with someone else, but my concern is, ok, he cant deal with it, but he will cuz so many woman has it, if he will have sex with 20 women after me he has a high chance to find out that 4 out of 20 had it, or if he had 20 already, than he slept with 4 women with genital herpes already, and i dont mention cold sores, i mean how rediculous is that?! i think we really need to work on getting read of the stigma around herpes subject, at least if scientists cant find a cure yet..we can change the way we are being seen and treated in the social life, its not fair, do they make joke about people with hiv? no, we passed that barrier long time ago, so why we still joking about herpes? which is a medical condition and exists longer than hiv..how can we improve the situation? I think there must be a tabu for jokes about herpes on tv at least..here we are having new movie which is hilarious 21 jump street, all in all very funny, untill herpes joke, which made me want to leave the theater, we should sue smbd and get a law against it! for discrimination!its not funny!people suffer! not that much from herpes, but for the treatment we get for having it!

Cathy said...

5Can you submit some of your writing to a major newspaper please. You're an excellent writer and the first person who has made sense to me. I am a teacher, well educated and open minded on most topics, however, I was just diagnosed and am having difficulty getting reliable information. We have broken down so many barriers in our western culture in other areas, why are we in the dark ages about herpes???

Anonymous said...

I too have herpes. I've done a lot of research to try and find a cure for the virus and I've found a lot of positive information regarding red grapes, black grapes, grape juice and green tea (only red or black grapes).
My last outbreak was about 4 months ago, and that's when I began this regimen. One thing that I have noticed since I began is that I've had lower back pain, and that's something that I have never experienced till I started this daily thing. I'd also like to include that I only buy the organic grapes and green tea. I usually eat about 3 full cups of grapes a day, and 5 cups of green tea and 2 cups of grape juice. I do believe that this combination will eventually kill the virus.
I know that this daily regimen works at preventing the outbreaks, and I also believe that it can also kill the virus. What I'm not sure of is how much of it I need to kill the virus completely.
For anyone who has this virus, my suggestion is to try this and you too will see the difference.

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lana said...

Once a herpes virus takes over a cell, it expresses viral proteins on the surface of the cell triggering neighboring cells to also become infected with the herpes virus.

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