The Nitty Gritty

But more than all of those I am an entertainer. I carry around a ukulele with me for the same reason a gangster carries a gun; better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Stage or sidewalk, Your Pal Pete shows are just where they happen.
Currently, I'm working on a musical, RagnaPOP(or she's got the bomb), set to premiere at this year's Capital Fringe Festival. I'm also working on music, comedy, and musical comedy; for kids and/or adults.
The fruit of these projects will be available on this site, so check back regularly!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Warts Week Finale:I Have Herpes!

And chances are, you do too!
I’ll explain: I was diagnosed with type 1 genital herpes about 5 years ago. I’ve been very open about it because very few people are and the stigma surrounding it is a bit unfounded. People are usually open about having HIV and AIDS, a life threatening disease that is commonly contracted through sexual activity, but the people that are the most open about their Herpes, a relatively harmless virus, are the fictional characters in the Valtrex commercials.

A little information: 1 in 5 adult men and 1 in 4 adult women have genital herpes. People don’t realize how wide spread it is because only a fraction of the people that have it ever show symptoms. Another fact that people don’t understand it that cold sores are caused by the herpes virus, often passed on to children commonly and unknowingly by their relative’s kisses . That’s where it gets really widespread: anywhere from 50 to 65 percent of adults have oral herpes, a figure that keeps going up the older you get.

It’s hard for you to know for sure if you have it or not, outside of testing a suspected out break. You can be tested for antibodies that the body creates in defense of it. And like the commercial says: you can still spread it when you don’t show symptoms(called “Asymptomatic Shedding”) that applies to all forms of herpes.

The two must common forms of Herpes Simplex virus: Type 1- causes most cases of oral herpes and type 2-which is most common form of genital herpes. Either type can occur in either location, but type one is becoming more popular as genital herpes because while people protect themselves from things like that with condoms, people don’t use them during oral sex and it’s transmitted that way (the way I contracted it).

I wanted to use the blog as an opportunity to educate people a little on Herpes. In my openness, I’ve been shocked on the attitudes some people have had towards me. After I told one friend about it during a poker game, he refused to drink after me. The irony was that he had a huge coldsore on his lip at the time; having never had a cold sore myself, I was more likely to catch something from him than he could get from me. I told him this, with a lot more profanity, but eventually I educated them about herpes and we figured out that two of the other guys had it too.

As I gathered information about herpes when I found out I had it, I realized how damaging the stigma truly is. I read posts online from people who have been driven into deep depression over a herpes diagnosis and think the worst about their significant others, when either of them might have had it for years before they had an outbreak. Even a couple, when each only had one sexual partner have given it to each other, it can spread-with a little bad luck-from oral to genital then back to the other partner genital to genital.

As far as my life goes, my girlfriends have been understanding for the most part, and I have always let them know far before it becomes an issue. I’m very careful and haven’t spread it since I’ve been diagnosed, at least as far as I know. It‘s so common, that you’re not fully protected unless latex prevents any direct contact of lip to genital, genital to genital, even lip to lip. I’d rather be honest than feel I was keeping something from them for even a second, I even tell people I sleep with in my dreams I have it. It’s inconvenient, yes, but isn’t life?

So that’s it for the “warts and all” week, I hope on some level it was entertaining. I’ll return to my regular musings on Monday.


Anonymous said...

I think the thing to keep in mind is that herpes isn't dangerous to you, but it is to a pregnant woman. If there is an outbreak before delivery, it can be quite dangerous* to the child and, as you pointed out, most people don't even know they have the disease.

* for some reason I remember hearing that it can be fatal but don't know that for certain

Anonymous said...

I got this too from my husband of 8 years! He didn't realize he had a small cold sore in his mouth at the time. I have had 1 recurrence in 1 year. I am very worried about this. I read that 50% of people never have a recurrence with hsv1 and the other 50% have 1 recurrence for 3 years and then it doesn't show up for years.

I am wondering what others have experienced...?