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For Arguments Sake - Disclosing GHSV1...

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So now that I've officially been diagnosed with GHSV1, I've been doing a lot more research on that specific strain/location of the virus. While I'm still shaken up by my less-than-24-hours-ago diagnosis, I am learning a lot more about it and that is helping me deal with the situation. The lady who gave me my diagnosis said that because it was GHSV1, my recurrences will likely be 1-2 a year IF it even ever decided to come back, due to HSV1 not really liking the genital region (*side note: please correct anything I'm saying if it is wrong! I'm repeating things I've been seeing/reading online and am very new here so I may not have all the facts/am accurate! 🙂 )

My entire family actually has HSV1 so I guess I was bound to get it someday. However, the rest of them have it orally. The only people who know about my diagnosis are my mom and my sister (again, who both get it orally). Both of their reactions were "so what? who cares", which was comforting to hear, at least. I resonated with what they were saying, that it really wasn't a big deal and the issue more so stems from a psychological stand point and how others (if they were to find out) are so quick to judge without knowing the facts. While no one really pokes fun at people getting cold sores (although my sister said in high school people did make fun of her but I think it was more so in a teasing way because cold sores really aren't seen as so "shameful" while genital herpes is), herpes down there is made out to be a lot worse.

In relation to HSV1 (I know both HSV1 and HSV2 obviously share a lot of the same makeup, but depending on where they are located/how they are transmitted there are differences in how the behave? Correct me if I'm wrong please!), me and my whole family have literally the exact same virus. Technically, genital herpes means we all get "cold sores" in a more discrete area of our body. When you say it like that, its not as scary. For some reason, the term "genital herpes" sounds a lot more like a cartoon villain moreover than "cold sores" does (I think just from media, the stigma created back in the day, how its perceived, etc.)

What I explained to my mom and sister was that what will most effect me in this diagnosis is having to disclose to people that I once had a very mild outbreak. They both laughed at me and said they've never once in their life told me before kissing somebody/being intimate that they have cold sores every so often and that that isn't something I need to disclose. I'm a very ethical and moral and honest person so I told them that it wasn't up for debate, I had to say something in advance. And then I started thinking... (for arguments sake! Like I said, I will always disclose because I think thats the right thing to do but lets just have a little debate with some facts for a second)

1) My sister and mom never felt the need to tell anyone they dated that they got a cold sore every few months because it seems like thats not something people would tell you to disclose since it isn't made out to be such a big deal. They aren't telling me to be dishonest when they tell me they think its absurd that I feel the need to tell someone that, they just were never told they should when simply put, I have exactly what they do. Maybe its because when people find out they have a cold sore, no one freaks out. They don't even go get tested for it. They just know it's a cold sore, take something over the counter or Valtrex (which my sister uses) and thats that. So then why do we who have it genitally (and Im referring to HSV1 specifically) feel the need to do so? If having HSV1 on your genitals is essentially having "the oral cold sore virus" down there, why should we? Isn't that just furthering the stigma? If you have it on your mouth, its no big deal. Just dont kiss someone (obviously) when you have an outbreak or feel one coming. But if we have it on our genitals (or have had it, potentially even just one time 6 years ago - not my situation but I'm saying for others and for arguments sake), God forbid we don't say something. Shouldn't it just be dont have sex (obviously) when you have an outbreak or feel one coming? Someone could say well what about asymptomatic shedding...

2) Lets look at some of the facts (if they're not correct, please let me know!!!): one article I read said "[the risk of shedding when there is no outbreak for] genital hsv1...is very small because genital hsv1 doesn't shed very often at all. It sheds far less often than genital hsv2, and considerably less often than oral hsv1". In that case, shouldn't there be more of an obligation to those who carry it orally to disclose that information? "They are contageous around 18% of the time from their mouth area, whether they are having a cold sore or not. Those with a genital type 1 infection are only contageous 0-5% of the time from their genital area, so they are very rarely the source of the infection. The way GHSV1 is almost always transmitted is just oral-->genital, during oral sex, by a person who gets cold sores." Technically, have HSV1 on your genitals is like a "good" combination: because HSV1 doesn't thrive in that part of your body, it may lay dormant after an initial outbreak. And if it does emerge sometimes, it has lower rates of shedding and therefor transmission given you take the other necessary precautions (condoms, meds, etc.) (also, this is a summary from what I understand so fill in the blanks if there are any!)

3) Say before coming to disclosure, your partner casually mentions that sometimes they get cold sores...If he already has antibodies and is immune to HSV1, wouldn't that make the fact that you have or sometimes get an outbreak below the wait? You cant give someone a virus they already have."GHSV1 has a 3-5% transmission rate which can be lowered by condoms and suppressive therapy. Oral HSV1 has a 9-18% rate" so why are those who have it genitally and less likely to transmit under more pressure to be so up front when those who have it orally are more likely to spread it via oral sex?

If I were to start dating someone and after 6 months they got a cold sore, I (this is me personally so tell me how you feel) would not panic or feel betrayed by it. Because sores (in any form, on any body part) should not be a huge ordeal. Like so many say on here, herpes becomes something that is just a non-issue and more so an annoyance/nuissance. Thats how someone who doesn't disclose they get cold sores on their lips must feel, and I wouldn't think anything of it. But if I had an outbreak on my anus 6 months into a relationship and my partner asked why we couldn't get intimate and I said "oh Im having a cold sore on my butt, should clear up in a few days" I would get scorned. I would be looked down upon for being "dishonest" and not disclosing that information and not giving my partner an option, etc. when in reality, if I were HSV negative and my partner got cold sores, no one would say that of them. No one would look at them as "putting me at great risk" when actually at the end of the day (and exactly how I was given this) was from someone who had a non-stigmatized, non-issue-according-to-society, cold sore. And according to science/data, their oral HSV1 is what is increasingly putting people at risk of getting GHSV1.

This is not an attack on those who have it orally! Haha. I know it may come off that way. I'm just trying to understand why there is such a great divide and why those who have it genitally are under more pressure to be so upfront just because of its location (in relation to HSV1, which again is "no better" than HSV2 but I have just been using the facts linked to GHSV1 for this debate).

Let me know your thoughts.

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With a new partner, before you have sex, you just say "Do you get cold sores?" And they will say either yes or no. Either way, your response is then "I get cold sores, but not on my face." Then you do a quick debreif on what that entails. I think people with it on their faces should disclose as well, but whatever. 

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It is unfair, but it is this stigma that you are trying to protect a potential partner from as well, not just the physical symptoms. When you first thought you had it, you went through an extremely stressful period to the point that you were having some difficulty finding value in your life. Someone else might have a similar reaction, and therefore you need to inform them about the risk. It's also a great opportunity to educate people and help reduce the stigma we all suffer from. So if it is unjust that you are compelled to disclose, remember that disclosure also helps combat that injustice. 

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