What is herpes?
Herpes is a virus know as herpes simplex virus 1 & 2 (HSV-1, HSV-2). it is a common contagious viral infection that can be transmitted through s3xu@l, skin to skin, and fluid contact. HSV-1 causes cold sores and HSV-2 is linked to genital herpes. There is no known cure for herpes. People can have herpes and never have any symptoms, and therefore may never know they have it. Herpes outbreaks can create blisters on the mouth, lips, eyes, nose, genitalia, and anus. The blisters can be very painful. During the first outbreak people can have flu-like symptoms like chills, fevers and aches. In addition to general breakouts, someone could have lesions, itching, soreness, genital pain, and pain below the waist. Some people say they can feel when a breakout is coming.
HSV-1 - saliva or surfaces in or around the mouth, skin to skin contact with the sores
HSV-2 - sexual contact of the genitalia & @nal surface, skin to skin contact, sores, genital secretions, childbirth, during asymptomatic shedding*
*asymptomatic shedding - when herpes is present on the skin but there no symptoms
according to the CDC 2015-2016:
47.8% of Americans (14-49) had HSV-1
11.9% of Americans (14-49) had HSV-2
You Need to Know
HSV-1 is often considered an STD, even though it can be transmitted without any s3xual contact (hence why some people do not like adults kissing their children).
Shingles is a part of the herpes family - however it is a different type of virus than HSV-1 & HSV-2.
Herpes dies pretty quickly outside the body at room temperature, so stop worrying about toilet seats.
herpes is very common - the lack of symptoms, education of transmission, getting specific tests for herpes are some of the reasons it continues to be prevalent.
HSV-1 can affect the genitalia and HSV-2 can affect the mouth.
People can live very healthy love and s3x lives with herpes with treatment. communication, transparency, and education is key.
What Can I Do?
Whether or not you live with HSV-1/2, START the conversation around herpes with friends and partner(s). Encourage everyone to get tested (most screenings don't test for it) so they know their status and get treatment if needed. Unpack any internalized misogyny and s3x taboo that contributes to the fear and stigmatization of STIs. Manage your reaction when someone lets you know they are living with herpes. They do not need a visceral or dramatic reaction. Be respectful, ask questions about treatment, prevention, and do your own research. Do not place morality onto someone's STI's status. someone is not "dirty" or "promiscuous" for something that has no alignment to either of those things. herpes can affect ANYONE.