Jump to content
  • Want to be a part of a supportive community? Join the H Opp community for free.

    Welcome to the Herpes Opportunity Support Forum! We are a supportive and positive group to help you discover and live your Opportunity. Together, we can shed the shame and embrace vulnerability and true connection. Because who you are is more important than what you have. Get your free e-book and handouts here: https://www.herpesopportunity.com/lp/ebook

H is the epitome of irony

Recommended Posts

There are honestly countless adjectives that could be used to describe herpes, but the one that I have felt, lately, suits it best is: ironic. There is truly no rhyme or reason to H. It honestly appears that anyone can get it; whether you've never had sex, had sex once, a handful of times, etc; you can get it even if you use a condom everytime, are diligent about your sexual health, and get regular STD screenings. Most people that have it don't even know they have it, as doctors more often than not will not test you for it unless you have any reason to believe you could have it.. and even then, you cant assure accuracy unless you have an active outbreak that they can swab.


Herpes is ironic for these reasons, and then some. Here's a few more (feel free to add):


-It is the most benign STI's that you can get, as it is generally no more than an occasionally occuring skin irritation; but yet it is thought of (by our society) to be one of the "worst" for the simple fact that is still an STI, and you can not get rid of it.


-A good majority of the people that have it, dont know and may never know that they have it (and this in itself goes to show how benign it can really be). But the issue that lies with this is that with most people not even knowing that they even have it, those of us that do know are thought to be the only ones that have it; we get stuck with the stigma, and the ones that have to have the uncomfortable talk with potential partners (who, realistically, could already have it themselves and not even know it) . It also means that H will just keep spreading, inevitably and unknowingly.


-It's also crazy to think that of those of us that know we have it, very few are honest about it with potential partners. I mean, I understand why people dont want to (I havent yet had to do it myself, except with my ex that I was with for 3.5 years when I found out. That conversation was hard, and I do dread it with new partners, but understand it is necessary) It's an incredibly uncomfortable conversation to have with someone, especially when knowing you can't 100% guarantee them that they wont get it themselves, though you will take every precaution. But again, it is something that needs to be talked about, because it is truly so much more common than we even know. If only we could get rid of the stigma, we wouldn't all be tuck


-Stress is a big trigger for an OB, but the knowledge of knowing you have it or a visible outbreak can cause a lot of stress. It's a vicious cycle.


-Most people are "scared" of it , because most people dont know much more about it than that it is an STI that "causes blisters on your nether-regions" and that you can not get rid of. There is no real education on the subject (or sex in general). There is a stigma because people dont talk about it, but people dont talk about it because of the stigma. Oh, the irony.


-Us as a society make a bigger deal out of H than even the medical community (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc) in my observation. They treat it as it should be treated (in a sense) as something that is just super common, and really more a nuissance than anything.


-I feel like we think that we expect other people to think negatively of us, because we suddenly feel negatively about ourselves. We don't give people the benefit of the doubt, and become our own worst enemies.


-It also crazy to think that with the rise of people having sex (with the rise in dating sites and casual hook ups, lots of which I can only imagine are unprotected encounters) and the rise in other STI's being contracted, that H isn't FAR more common. Especially when you H is one of the easiest (in my opinion) to contract; you can get it even if you do use protection (as I feel happened in my case), as it only requires skin to skin contact; and it can be contracted even if there is nothing noticeable "down there".


-It can be hard to feel like you will ever totally have it under control, or piece of mind with it, as it kind of has a mind of it's own. It pops up whenever it feels like it, or not at all. It can pass on to someone else, even when it doesn't appear to be present. It definitely has a way of getting into your head, and that challenge is often the harder one to conquer, aside from the physical aspects of it. It's ironic that something so small and seemingly harmless can cause so much turmoil.


Like I said, feel free to add! I would like to hear others input. Take care.



Link to comment

Gosh this is so on point. Was just saying this to my fiancée because we were having an argument about H the other day. About how ironic it is that I have contracted H with as few partners as I have had and my fiancée on the other hand has been with more than he could probably count. I have one girlfriend who knows about my status and that is it. All the others I would feel judged by. I am a nurse and I hear how other nurses talk about patients we have with genital herpes like they are dirty, and it makes me so mad. More education needs to be done for sure.

Link to comment

It probably is more common for the fact that people don't go to their doctors, or clinics for issues unless pushed to their limits, or something major.even that men are less likely to seek medical treatment. And people still lie... To themselves and others.


What's funny is how the image for herpes is the blistering, flesh eating images on google when in fact that's not the case for everyone. From no symptoms to mild tingling, itching, burning while urinating( not in the way it does for ghonna) or nerve pain. No one is going to think its herpes when they google images.

Link to comment

@SunDevourer Even some medical professionals think of those images as what is typical for herpes. I had a conversation with a nurse practitioner at my gynecologist's office, telling her I wondered if maybe I had misidentified mild symptoms of herpes as a yeast infection. I was wondering if I was truly asymptomatic or if I had attributed mild symptoms to something else. I wanted to be more educated about this to be sure I won't accidentally expose a partner. She said there was NO WAY I would not know if my symptoms were herpes related because outbreaks are excruciatingly painful and obvious. I told her it was my understanding that somewhere between 80-88% of people who have HSV2 do not know they have it and that some of those people have mild symptoms they don't recognize as herpes. She said those people who test positive but don't have outbreaks don't actually have herpes, they have merely been exposed to it. And maybe she very literally meant that carrying HSV2 does not mean someone will have herpes SORES, but that stuff about merely being exposed was just wrong, as was her assertion that it would be impossible to miss milder symptoms of herpes. This conversation took place in 2016! It just reminded me that we really have to educate ourselves because there is so much misinformation, even among medical professionals.


The way I think of it, genital herpes symptoms are just like oral herpes symptoms. Lots of people have oral herpes and never have any symptoms, or they get one cold sore when they contract it and then never again, or they get a cold sore once or twice a year, or they are in the unlucky minority that gets lots of cold sores very frequently to the point that it really affects their daily lives. Seems exactly like genital herpes to me, just in a different location. Are the google images for "oral herpes" as dramatic? And if you google "oral herpes" are the images more severe than if you google images for "cold sores"? I'll have to check that out and see.

Link to comment

@optimist -I've heard the exact same thing the nurse told you- from a lab person that is positive for 1&2. She said she gets a rash on her butt but that couldn't be herpes. She thinks she's just been exposed and carries antibodies but is not contagious.


Unfortunately, the medical community is not as educated on herpes like you would expect us to be. I just found out in my special micro biology class (This is my fifth now) that the information shared about herpes as far as exposure is this (copied word for word from my power point lecture)


Herpes Simplex Viruses


-oropharyngeal lesions on the oropharynx

-cold sores, fever blisters


-Oral and genital lesions


Oh and we can't forget the transmission facts


-Close contact, usually of face


-Sexual or intimate contact


There was more, but it wasn't related to what we are talking about (Viral envelope, course the virus takes, how it affects cells etc). And the pictures are WORSE than google. I kid you not.


When I contacted my instructor about the lack of information about genital HSV1 and herpes overall- I was told they cram a years worth of a virology course into a week session and it's impossible to teach every aspect but the bare bones.


So again, I've had five semesters of microbiology for my degree (microbiology, clinical microbiology, clinical microbiology II, advanced microbiology, and special microbiology) and I've yet to get any good information on herpes. Other professions aren't even required to take that much micro. So their information is probably as bad, if not worse, than mine.

Link to comment

Just googled it! The images aren't nearly as graphic. Thing is when I was diagnosed I couldn't go off the images because it wasn't the same. No blister, no scabing, no progression.



What I find ironic is when ( I do know some people are fine with it and part of it is education) we talk about using condoms for genital to genital( assuming it's hsv2) but never any encouragement of using protection orally. And who uses protection when kissing someone? Since the majority have it on their lips.


It's ironic that there is this idea of hsv 1 being better than hsv2 because it's not like having type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Herpes just is.. Even if hsv2 is rare orally I don't want to hear about what sheds more where when 50% of genital herpes diagnosis are hsv1 ( shedding and breakouts depends on the individual since others show no signs at all.) and that doesn't rule out oral to genital and genital to oral... I wonder... That's probably hard to track. Hsv1 genital to genital, or genital to oral

Link to comment

@SunDevourer I googled all three terms and was not surprised to find the most severe images were for "genital herpes," then "oral herpes," then "cold sores." By this I mean that "cold sores" are typically depicted as a single little sore, genital herpes is typical depicted as clusters of many sores, and "oral herpes" images were sort of a mix of both types of images. I was just curious to see how the terminology might influence the severity of symptoms shown.


Genital HSV2 does asymptomatically shed (on average) twice as frequently as oral HSV1, but equivalent antiviral doses are more effective in reducing shedding of HSV2 (by 50-80%) and most people with oral HSV1 do not take antivirals. So I think the average person with HSV2 on antivirals is shedding with about the same frequency as the average person with oral HSV1, if that puts asymptomatic shedding of HSV2 into perspective. Having said all that, various partial immunities come into play that make a person more or less likely to contract one or the other type of herpes from a discordant partner.


IMHO, at some point, parsing all of this feels silly and starts to remind me of the story of the star bellied Sneetches. As far as I can tell, the type is not the issue. The stigma of GENITAL HERPES is the issue, regardless of type. The stigma seems primarily tied to the location of the infection, and the fact that oral herpes is more frequently called cold sores adds to perception that herpes = genital herpes and is scary and gross and nothing at all like cold sores. Perhaps the stigma is a bit worse for genital herpes type 2 than for GHSV1, but they are both stigmatized due to location. My opinion, anyway.

Link to comment

I vaguely remember the recent conversation with Adriel and a guest about shedding. Think she said something about it being less to those who have little breakouts, but it also depended on the individual. Don't remember exactly.


But it is the stigma. Another ironic thing is why is medicine prescribed for suppressive therapy for genital terms, but not orally. Though I know the People at the clinic I went to nearly suggested taking them when I think I'm having sla break out and nothing more.

Link to comment

@SunDevourer Yes, I'm definitely talking averages. Individual cases vary.


It's my understanding that when antivirals are used for oral herpes, a higher dosage is required, so I suppose that would be a consideration, even for someone with chronic oral outbreaks.


As for suppressive therapy, it's my understanding there is no effort or recommendation related to preventing oral transmission during asymptomatic periods because the medical community is aware that oral herpes is very common, usually a non-issue or minor issue for people in terms of symptoms (as with genital herpes), and to suggest barriers would rob people of everyday affection and lower their quality of life. However, it is considered more reasonable to suggest barriers for intercourse.


FWIW, neither my doctor nor my nurse thought it was necessary for me to take suppressive meds. The nurse actually became angry with me about it but the doctor was willing to prescribe them based on my desire to reassure future partners and do whatever I can to minimize risk. I'm sure they don't challenge people who take antivirals to treat symptoms, but it seems they (my doctor and nurse) do not suggest suppressive therapy for asymptomatic people like me. I would say my desire to take the daily meds is mostly tied to my awareness of the stigma, given we are talking about cutting annual risk by 1%, but that's the choice I'm making for now.

Link to comment

I think all of this is up to the individual person, and h has a mind of its own, so it's hard to proceed with treatment or prevention options.

Iv never had one cold sore, but hsv2 positive

HSV2 still no conclusive answers, nor have I ever see. It since my injt diagnosis a vey long time ago....upon official diagnosis I had 1 lesion inside me, another starting, I thought I had uti or yeast infection.

I do not take any Meds at this time.

Link to comment

@girlnamedhope it baffles me that it truly does not matter on the number of partners, or whether you used protection or not. It honestly seems to just come down to "the luck (misfortune rather) of the draw". It's kind of like Russian roulette in my opinion. I know MANY people who have had MANY sexual partners, and as far as I know, they came out Scott free . I have a fairly small number, in today's standards, of five, all of which I used protection. But still ended up with HSV2 Even my boyfriend of 3.5 years, who I was having unprotected sex with for basically our entire relationship, was tested after I found out, and came back clear. I'm glad he is good, it just seems unfair the way it works.


Genital herpes does definitely seem to have the worse stigma, I think primarily because the only way you can get it is sexually. Cold sores can be contracted at a young age, from a simple kiss. So it seems to be more "acceptable".


@optimist I am in a similar boat, in regards to wondering if certain things that I was experiencing "down below" before (ie frequent yeast infections / irritations, or even back pain, leg tingling or general aching and discomfort) were things that I never would have tied to herpes before I found out I had it, but were actually due to it all along. It is frustrating because I don't know how you could really know for sure, and it is true that doctors seem to only count actual "lesions" as an OB, or the thing to be concerned of. I had my doctor tell me, when I asked about suppressive therapy, that it would not prevent the other person from getting it, would give them "false hope". And that antiviral will "hurt my liver" and I shouldn't be hurting myself for someone else's "piece of mind" (when really it's mine I'm worried about as well) I feel like she mine as well have said "your love life has come to a screeching halt, not much you can do about it". Plus it only prevents consistent reoccurring OB, and will not help reduce viral shedding (which from what I have been reading, does not appear to be the case) I only have one "recorded" OB (the one that actually produced "vesicles" that looked like 3 little whiteheads) and that was the one that I went to have tested. But as time has gone on, and I am beginning to recognize a certain pattern in symptoms, I am beginning to think I've had at least 4-5 more just this year alone. I truly don't want to be stuck on anti virals for the rest of my life, but I also don't want to not have a love life, or feel irresponsible and like whoever sleeps with me just has to accept the fact that they'll most likely get H. I want to know that I'm doing everything I can, and have whoever I am with know that too. Because I feel like otherwise, I always have that guilt and fear in the back of my mind, and that I won't be confident enough to make someone confident in being with me. I understand how dating someone who already has it would be easier, but we shouldn't have to limit ourselves. I suppose all we can do is give others the benefit of the doubt and hope for the best.





Link to comment
  • 2 months later...

HSV2 is really no big deal for most people and yet we carry the biggest burden of shame and responsibility to disclose. I've never once had someone tell me before we kissed that they have HSV1 when they aren't breaking out with a cold sore. And apparently people can now take legal action if they can prove they got Herpes from you. Can you believe that? Sue you for catching a NON-life threatening STD. Will people then be allowed to sue you if they give you the flu? Of course not, and the flu kills people every year!


We need to stop this madness! Herpes is nothing more than a skin condition that's a minor inconvenience for a small minority. I find it insane that we have to disclose our condition when it's not life threatening and the majority of people have little or no symptoms. There's a reason why it's often not part of an STD screening panel, because it's not a big deal to the medical community and it shouldn't be!

Link to comment

I hear you, @Dave. It gets such a bad rep. Since finding out I have it, I have begun noticing so much more how stigmatized it really is. Everyone talking about it like it is the end of the world if you get it, how it is somehow the worst thing that you can have. Merely because you can not get rid of it, and unfortunately it is contagious. It's hard to deal with when I hear about far worse things from people, things they have done or otherwise, but somehow feel like having H would still trump all of them. Which should not be the case. We shouldn't have to feel so guilty about something that is so common. I still struggle a lot with not feeling comfotable, but so desperately wanting to just be open about my H without being labeled as something negative, or "off limits" sexually or physically. I know these are probably my own thoughts, but have already encountered so many people in my own life, that have warned me about pursuing other people because you "never know what they may have, or what you could catch from them", while it is really myself who is worried about being that person..

Link to comment

Is it me, or does it seems like most other common herpes types get less shocking names attached to them such as chicken pox, cold sores, shingles? What gives? Perhaps the fact that so many people may have this virus (many without awareness) and the harsh stigma attached to be enlightened by its rearing itself could be softened by attaching a name change of some sort....probs won't ever happen, but just a thought

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...