HSV Facts #3: You can’t get herpes from a toilet seat.

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The herpes virus is quite fragile. HSV does not survive outside the body for more than about 10 seconds, and although it can survive for slightly longer in warm, damp conditions, it dies very quickly once exposed to the air. Transmission through inanimate objects such as toilet seats has not been documented. However, exercising good hygiene is always a good idea!

The herpes virus can be killed with soap and water.

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HSV Facts #2: You can get herpes from oral sex.

Yes, we said it! You can get herpes from oral sex. (Even if your partner isn’t in an outbreak!)

Herpes is a tricky virus. HSV1 and HSV2 can be found both genitally and orally. People can have both at the same time in one or both locations.

 

Here’s some stats and facts from Herpes.com!

What if your partner has genital HSV-2 and you perform oral sex on him or her? Will you get HSV- 2 in the mouth? Given the widespread practice of oral sex (some three-quarters of all adults practice it, according to The Social Organization of Sexuality, 1994) and the prevalence of genital HSV-2 infection, you might expect oral HSV-2 to be relatively common. It’s not.

According to one study, almost 100% of recognizable HSV-2 infection is genital (Nahmias, Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases Supplement, 1990). One reason is that most adults are already infected with HSV-1 orally, which provides some immunity against infection with HSV 2. Another reason is that oral HSV-2 rarely reactivates, so even if an infection does exist, no one knows.

So far we’ve been talking about transmission of HSV-1 or 2 from its site of preference. What about transmission from another site? Say you acquire genital HSV-1 through oral sex. Can you spread the virus to a partner through genital sex?

The answer is yes, but probably not as easily as it was spread through oral sex. The main reason is that the virus reactivates and sheds less often outside its site of preference. Only about one quarter of people with genital HSV- 1 shed virus at all in the absence of symptoms, while 55% of people with HSV-2 do (Wald, New England Journal of Medicine, 1995). “Shedding data appear to parallel recurrence data, meaning that people who have a lot of recurrences also have a lot of shedding,” says Wald.

While HSV- 1 can be spread from genitals to genitals, “we think it is spread more easily through oral sex because HSV-1 reactivates more frequently in the oral area,” says Wald. However, she warns, “transmission of genital HSV-1 during asymptomatic shedding has been documented.” In other words, genital HSV-1 can be spread through genital sex, even when there are no symptoms.

HSV Facts: #1 – Condoms don’t always protect against herpes.


It is estimated that 90% of American adults acquire some type of HSV in their lifetime. It’s also estimated that of that 90%; over 80% have never shown symptoms! These people can unknowingly spread the infection.

Without using any protection, transmission for female to male is about 4%; male to female, about 10%. Other than abstinence, condoms and daily suppression have been proven very effective. With condoms reducing around 30% and a daily suppression routine reducing about 50%.

Genital herpes can be found anywhere within the boxer region. Meaning transmission is possible if every precaution is taken. (Even if the person has never shown signs or symptoms)

There are many couples where one person has herpes and the other doesn’t. They are typically aware of the risk they are taking. However, for those who are single and have multiple partners- it’s extremely difficult to be fully protected.

Get tested & don’t forget to specifically ask for the IGG blood test to test for herpes antibodies. Herpes is NOT included on a regular STD panel. It’s up to YOU to ensure your health. Don’t be afraid if your test may come out positive. The result is still the same whether you know it or not. You may be unknowingly spreading HSV.

It’s important to know your partner(s) and always have “the talk” before initiating sexual contact. If a potential partner claims to be “clean” double check if they’ve had the blood test for HSV. Remember – most people are unaware they have it!

 

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Stigma & Me: Meeting Notes

In last weeks support meeting, we discussed stigma with HSV. We shared stories about times where we’ve seen or heard others stigmatize HSV. (Even how we may have perpetuated stigma before we were diagnosed)

We discussed the commonality of HSV and questioned the separation of the medical community and the common public. HSV is not included in a standard STD panel. Most of us are told it’s because it’s too common. Because of the prevalence of “cold sores”, it’s difficult to pin down exactly how many people have HSV.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) only perpetuates this by not tracking HSV as they do other with other STD’s. We want to know their reasoning as to why this is not tracked!

The frustration we share…. if it is so common… why is there still stigma? Why are cold sores acceptable but having the same virus downstairs is unacceptable?

We exchanged ideas on how can we end the stigma.

  1. Making it widely known and accepted cold sores are herpes.
  2. Writing the CDC and local doctors urging them to report instances HSV.
  3. Create a campaign advocating HSV be included on a regular STD panel.
  4. Urge people to get tested- even if they aren’t showing symptoms. HSV can be spread even if they’ve never had an outbreak. This can only be diagnosed through blood testing!
  5. Contacting local schools and health departments insisting they teach children facts on HSV rather than using scare tactics and abstinence. (HSV can be spread when using condoms. Cold sores, HSV, can spread to the genital areas through oral sex.)

These are all things we can do anonymously. Through the internet- anything is possible. We can be protected with private profiles while still spreading the word. There are a few brave souls who have gone transparent but it is not necessary for the truth to come out.


Support Meeting Today- “Stigma & Me” 

Today’s Topic: “Stigma & Me” 

This week we will explore the stigma that comes with HSV- why is it taboo when it’s so common? How did we get here and can we change it?!

Why is it we feel so alone when first diagnosed? When most of the population has a form of HSV? Stigma, y’all! It’s something almost everyone has and refuses to discuss. It’s up to us to stomp it out!

People hide behind terms like “cold sores” and “canker sores”. We all know what’s on your face, Karen!!!

See you tonight!

We’ve partnered with the Polk County Health Department to provide an in-person herpes support group. The group will meet regularly; every 3rd Tuesday of the month @ 6pm. Hope to see you there!

August Support Group Meeting

This months meeting topic is “The Talk: Wins, Fails & Me Too’s”.

Let’s share stories, tips and advice on how to have a successful disclosure! You won’t leave empty handed- DSMHSV will provide a concise fact sheet with transmission rates, myths about HSV and additional resources to give to potential partners. Can’t wait to see everyone there! 🙂

Meeting is at the Polk County Health Department- 1907 Carpenter Ave, Des Moines, IA 50314

 

Rates of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Concerning in Polk County

The number of sexually transmitted disease cases is on the rise in Polk County and officials say that is concerning.
More than 1,000 cases of STDs have been reported in 2018 so far, including 15 cases of HIV.

Polk County Health Department Public Information Officer Nola Aigner said the numbers are concerning because rates are consistently going up. She said that is partly because people are getting tested more often and they doing a better job contacting partners.

Aigner said a big concern is gonorrhea. It is becoming antibiotic resistant. “Now there is only one to cure it and it’s showing resistance. So, if we cannot find a new antibiotic to cure gonorrhea, this one may be one that’s no longer curable and that poses a lot of health effects.”

Gonorrhea can lead to infertility in men and women and pelvic inflammatory disease in women.

STDs can have serious health consequences and can be prevented by using a condom. Aigner added STDs are treatable with early diagnosis and treatment.

You can find more information on testing and treatment on the Polk County Health Department’s website.

 

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I’m glad that they regularly track STD’s but who else thinks it’s odd HSV is not tracked??? I suppose it’s because basically everyone has it at this point. It would be nice to have numbers to go with this assumption, though!! I wonder how high the numbers would be…