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Are the words "Herpes" and "Shedding" not that helpful?

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Just a thought I had to myself whilst reading some info the other day and relating it back to members feelings about themselves and non herpes partners reactions..

The word Herpes just struck me as one of the least helpful names for a STD.. It seems to just scream out for ridicule and sounds dare I say it... comical. Most other STDs have very serious sounding names (chlamydia, gonorrhoea etc) and therefore "comedians" devise absurd names for them. I really am not trying to be idiotic about it, I just wonder because as I struggle with disclosure, I feel that I can get everything out but just choke on the word "herpes" and wonder if it's the stigma or is it compounded by this scary/silly word?? Has the silliness been created around it over time or is it actually an unhelpful, unfortunate sounding word?


About shedding... As I read the more hysterical members of the online community discussing their often inaccurate opinions and interpretations of "shedding", it seems to have given them the notion that by "shedding" HSV+ people are just dropping and flaking little bits of their disease all over the place and everywhere they go. A little like dogs and cats "shed" or moult fur.. Come to think of it, another description doesn't leap to mind but for me at least when I first learned about "shedding" I was like "WHAAAAT?!" and was instantly appalled that I might have left traces of my virus all over my home! I know, this sounds, truly idiotic but it was my first gut response until I continued reading and rationalising. Therefore, it makes me wonder if the word is helpful in debunking the awful stigmas we face and not scaring the less informed partners we disclose to into paralysis!


I saw a thread where someone asked if they should disclose saying HSV or Herpes. I hope my motives for wondering the same aren't borne out of shame. Telling a partner that I "shed" the virus seems a little creepy to me so I feel like I'd rather say the virus may still be "present" on my skin without a visible outbreak... I mean each to his own but as a general discussion I wonder folks thoughts on this and if anyone has been in a situation where someone has reacted to those words rather than the information?


Hope I'm not being unhelpful :-( It's a serious question...



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good topic in my opinion.


as a self example of the whole shedding thing. I recently ( was its own topic fwiw) had an issue with tea tree oil causing some skin issue, I was developing a white flaky area where I had gone wayyyyy overboard with the stuff. 1 day of cortisone and it was fine. but one of my first paranoid, idiotic thoughts were " holy fuck, is this some sort of shedding on steroids?" And I know better so someone on the outside could be utterly clueless about this. especially when you add in the hyperbolic nature of our news media ( just watch 5 minutes of ebola coverage on Fox, apparently we are ALL gonna get it and it WILL kill us all).


as to the name herpes, im not sure. it is the Linnaean name for a group of viruses so we do have the old, its in the same family as : chicken pox, shingles, mono, etc to go with. all of which are lifelong and all of which can be spread without symptoms. not sure what/if there is a connection but herpetology deals with snakes and lizards so my guess is the name herpes was given to what was probably the first recognized of the viruses, chicken pox and the skin lesions part of it. All scientic names have a certain protocol they have to follow using latin or latinized versions of words as its a dead language and therefore not changing.


It does however sound silly.

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@seeking.. Thanks for appreciating :-)

Had a little laugh at your tea tree oil debacle... We've all been there! Yes, I guess we're just using the old Latin terminology so therefore it has to be an association with years of bad jokes and ridicule that have left the word with a "boogy-man" stigma, I guess..

Yes, I know the real facts of shedding @inka, lived with GHSV2 for 16 years now, hope I haven't caused offence just wanted to open up an alternative type of discussion. Maybe in the hope we can all relieve ourselves of the stigma and own our Talks a little more ;-)

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Most of the names for STD's come from Greek or Latin origins:


The word Herpes comes from late Middle English (originally used also of other skin conditions): via Latin from Greek herpēs ‘shingles,’ literally ‘creeping,’ from herpein ‘to creep.’


Chlamydia comes modern Latin (plural), from Greek khlamus, khlamud- ‘cloak.’


gonorrhoea comes from early 16th century: via late Latin from Greek gonorrhoia, from gonos ‘semen’ + rhoia ‘flux.’


Just so you understand that the names are all derived the same way. Personally I never thought of the word Herpes being comical ... it's just another word to me. When telling others I usually say Herpes because many will not know what HSV is. IMO we just have to set the example and not buy into the BS and the stigma that others put on it.


As for shedding... saying that the virus may be "present" is actually a good alternative ... I like it! However, I might also tell them that if they are researching they may see this described as "shedding" ... but that it isn't shedding like dog hair or whatever ... that it can only be passed by direct skin to skin contact.... that way the person will not freak out when/if they do their due diligence ;)

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