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Stop beating yourself up for having herpes

I was talking to a woman on the helpline. She told me that she was beating herself up for catching herpes – at young age – and it was caught from sex that she hadn’t wanted anyway… [Some call this ‘rape’!] And she was beating herself up for falling for the wrong guys. She felt that she was being punished… Later, she added that she was depressed as well. 

This is what I told her, over the course of the conversation: 

By the age of fifteen, one third of us have herpes, so having it ‘young’ is not at all unusual. Obviously, at this age most cases will be facial – and only one in three people will be aware they have it. (The other two out of three have such mild symptoms that they are not diagnosed.)

In one UK survey, half the women and 43% of the men felt that they had first had sex before they felt ready. So regret is common and normal.

Many people have been unlucky in love. It is a charming fault to fall for people too easily. Of course, breaking-up is painful – you can get your heart broken. But this is much better than being a hard-hearted person!!!!

Depression can be caused by a hormone imbalance. It is not a personality defect. Get the right treatment and you will feel positive again. My best friend had this problem. Now, at last, she says “It’s great to wake up and not feel like doom is about to happen”

Lastly, don’t be judgmental. Don’t hammer yourself for things that you’d forgive your friends for. Ask yourself for all the issues that you are beating yourself up over: “Would I blame a friend?!”

It is just bad luck if we catch it. No one deserves bad luck. Bad luck is not a punishment for anything. It happens – sometimes in far more devastating ways. I mean that ‘saintly individuals get killed in car crashes’ – bad luck can happen to anyone! Wonderful still people catch viruses. Sometimes that virus is cold sores on the genitals…

Get more information from membership: https://herpes.org.uk/shop/annual-subscription/

Learn more and stop beating yourself up
“I got my life back. I moved on. Thanks to the support of the HVA.”
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Trial seeks volunteers – for a new shingles vaccine

A shingles vaccine is offered to volunteers. Are over 50? And have you had shingles (herpes varicella)? If so, you might qualify for the trial to prove the effectiveness of the ‘other’ shingles vaccine. [Currently, the vaccine offered to people in their 70s is Zostavax. This is a single jab.]

This trial is about a two-jab shingles vaccine (immunisation). The manufacturer, GSK, is running a placebo-controlled trial. This means that you might get the real thing, or a sterile water (safe placebo) injection instead. You won’t know, and neither will the person who carries out the vaccination.

The trials are being run in Addlestone, Atherstone, Belfast, Bradford-on-Avon, Manchester, Nantwich, Poole and Trowbridge. More details on https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04091451?cond=Herpes&cntry=GB&draw=2&rank=6

Why it might interest you? A few people have reported that they have stopped having herpes simplex outbreaks after getting a shingles jab. We can’t guess why, but some found it so! arm getting shingles vaccine

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Herpes information

The HVA herpes information leaflet is called “True or False”. I took 200 to the Annual Conference of the Royal College of GPs in Liverpool 24-25th October. The delegates took 177 of them!

Herpes information leaflet on the stand

Liz Allen of the British Association of Skin Camouflage (left) Marian (right)

Doctors were glad to find materials to help their patients with all sorts of skin conditions. And the herpes information leaflet was appreciated. It offers treatment advice and also emotional support… Several doctors said things along the lines of “I didn’t know there was this kind of support for my patients and they can be very upset about it.” And a couple of doctors even thanked us for having the stand!!!

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What You Get in the Autumn Magazine

Autumn 2019 – Sphere magazine (18 pages in print version, and the e-version is single column for easy reading.)

Get it sent to you by post or by email

Discover some smart women who took the trouble to find out about herpes before they made a YouTube video about it!

Find out what sexual health consultant Dr Charlotte Hopkins told us at our AGM. You will wish she was your doctor!

Life coach Dena Michelli tells us how to move on – it’s easier than you think when you understand the process.

Are you interested in learning whether or not you have to tell a partner? Marian went to a sexual health conference where there was an in depth look at this controversial subject.

Read about our Woman’s Hour experience – Marian and two members were featured – from about minute 6.

‘My Story’ from Jane – wonderful to read other people’s experience.

Timings and details of ‘THE DAY’ on November 30th – and remember to check events page: https://herpes.org.uk/events/

Continue reading What You Get in the Autumn Magazine

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Help to get my head around herpes:

Get your head around herpes! Have you just been diagnosed with genital herpes or have you had it for ages? How do you feel? Do you think it changes anything, or everything? I’m here to tell you that you might have the wrong idea.  

When I was diagnosed, I thought my dating life was over.  

I felt shame and guilt. I thought I was a bad person, so bad things had happened to me. I thought nobody would want me.  I wasted two years in my thirties… I could not have been more wrong.   

You might feel the same way now. If you do, read on and perhaps I will be able to persuade you to look at herpes differently.

Believe me: herpes simplex is way more common than you think. If you’ve been carrying around this deep dark secret for years – or only just caught it – know this: you are not alone!

Learning more helps!

By age 25, we know that one in ten have type 2. And because of oral sex, many of the 6 in ten with type 1 may have it genitally. In fact, more than half new diagnoses of genital herpes are caused by type 1. [ref 1] [ref. 2]

Over 85% of women between 35-54 have type 1 and lots of the type 1 is genital – and over 18% have type 2. In men the figures are 8% – 10% lower than in women. [Ref. Cunningham]

Most of these people are carriers of herpes and don’t even know they have it and may  pass it on when they have very mild, undiagnosed symptoms – an itchy spot or slight rash.

So, it’s time to clear up all the misconceptions about herpes. Read the full website… Herpes doesn’t have to be a life-long problem… It may just fade away.

Don’t allow shame and worry to eat away and sap your self-esteem and self-confidence around potential new partners. Confide in someone you trust – or talk to one of our helpline volunteers who all have it themselves. Speaking about it to others before you get to the point of talking to a new partner is good – it will normalise it for you.

So, what happens when you finally meet that special person? Sooner or later you may want to have to have a conversation about it. You don’t have to, but if you feel as though you should, then you won’t relax until you do. We have a leaflet, “Talking to a New Partner” that is packed with good advice and tips – free to new members.

We have done the research and we can tell you that fewer than one in five partners will be put off. In spite of the hype, most people won’t take herpes nearly as seriously as you do. [Research by HVA found that only 17% of potential partners rejected one of our members when s/he talks about this…]

Learn to talk about it

One way to think about it is to ask yourself how a person would behave if they got occasional facial cold sores. Would they even consider mentioning it at all? Would anyone expect them to?

Lots more is discussed in our event “First Day of the Rest of Your Life” . There is a Saturday devoted to this every three months.

The atrium where we meet twice a month.
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Media lies as usual … about herpes!

You may have seen articles in newspapers/online about ‘herpes in astronauts’. As usual they misrepresent. So if you haven’t, don’t bother to search – they are uniformly misleading. Not just in Metro which you might expect, but even the Independent got it wrong. As we have written before, journalists only know about one type of herpes and assume the scientists are writing about genital herpes, whether they are or not!

Key Points:

As you might expect, any condition that reactivates when a body is under stress is likely to show up in astronauts. Now, after 60 years of men-in-space, scientists decided to measure the amounts of 4 different herpes viruses in saliva and urine. In about half the astronauts, they found shingles and two kinds of glandular fever present during space flight. In conclusion, it is useful for the astronauts to know that they should not kiss vulnerable people when they land, as the glandular fever-like viruses will continue to be present in saliva for up to a month after a long flight.

What the Frontiers in Microbiology, Feb 2019, reported:

“Currently, 47 out of the 89 (53%) astronauts from shuttle-flights and 14 out of 23 (61%) astronauts from ISS [longer] missions shed one or more herpes viruses in saliva/urine samples.”

There are 8 herpes viruses that humans may have, including chickenpox/ shingles (VZV) and several glandular fever-like illnesses EBV and CMV.

Continue reading Media lies as usual … about herpes!
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We talk on Woman’s Hour – BBC Radio 4

Jenny Murray and Jane Garvey host Woman's Hour
Marian Nicholson (HVA director) and two members, Jess and Sylvia, were interviewed for 20 minutes by Jane Garvey. This was for Friday 22nd February’s Woman’s hour. Then the editing reduced this to 12 minutes. This shows that they liked it, because originally we were told we’d only have 7 minutes!
Hear it on BBC Sounds – at the 6 minutes point. We did our best to destigmatise the issue. Sylvia and Jess were brilliant (thanks ladies) and talked about how their partners were OK with it. Marian talked about how very, very common it is. Listeners have told us the editor did a good job!
If you would talk about your experience to help get rid of the stigma, let us know. It could be in print media, on radio or even TV! Email [email protected]
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Laura’s letter to her younger self

Dear Laura,

I know exactly how you’re feeling. You’re 26, and you’ve just found out from the doctor that you have herpes. You’ve just burst out crying in front of the awkward-looking trainee GP. You feel like your whole world is over, you’re damaged goods and no-one will ever want to have sex with you again.  

You’re going to spend the next week in the flat, crying, downing wine and despairing at the terrible injustice – you only had sex with him one time! And you didn’t even really like him!

Well I’m pleased to say that ten years’ later, you’re doing great! Yes, at the beginning it was difficult, and maybe you did avoid some romantic encounters because you felt insecure about having to tell someone you had herpes. But then, about a year later, you met Steve – such a great guy. You waited until you’d been out a few times, and you were about to get near to having sex, and then sort of blurted it out. And he was absolutely fine about it! You ended up dating for almost a year, and then after that you went on to have three more really happy relationships. No tears, no rejection – everyone you told basically shrugged their shoulders and never mentioned it again. 

Married now

Then you met the person that you would end up marrying. You were really nervous, because you knew she was someone special. Spent the whole meal trying to eat your dinner and follow the conversation, with heart pumping at deafening volume. Well that was an anti-climax – again -just a shoulder shrug and ‘oh, I don’t know much about it but I’m not bothered at all’. Cut to 5 years later, and we’re still going strong.

So what I’d love to be able to do for you (and everyone who might be going through something similar) is give you a giant hug and tell you that IT WILL BE OK! You are the person who will be the most worried about things – not your future partners. They will choose you because they fancy you and love you – as you would for others, because why on earth would you not go out with someone because of a skin condition? How ridiculous! And if you do come across someone who judges you on the basis of that skin condition, do you want to waste your time with someone like that? There are so many good ones out there.

Honestly the hardest thing you’ll have to get over are your own feelings of shame and embarrassment – and you’re still working on it (that’s why I’m using a pseudonym here). But there are people like Marian and Nigel trying to break down that stigma, and in time maybe you’ll work up the courage to be 100% open.

But in the meantime dry your tears, and try not to worry too much about the future, because it’s a really really happy one.

Lots of love, you +10 

Xx

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Stop scaring mums-to-be

We say “Stop scaremongering baby deaths” 

Death from neonatal herpes is rare and screening mothers is unlikely to help.

The tragic deaths of several babies from neonatal herpes infections have been widely reported this year.[1] Despite scary headlines, it is rare for babies to be affected: nature has ensured that new-born babies are protected. Most medical professionals never see a case of a baby with herpes in their entire career.

Herpes is a highly unusual cause of neonatal death

Neonatal herpes infections are serious but rare. Total UK infant mortality from all causes is about one third of 1% in the first year. Death from herpes simplex infections affects 0.0016 of babies,[2] – a tiny proportion of these deaths.

Continue reading Stop scaring mums-to-be

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Thrush or herpes?

How should I treat thrush (candida), when I have genital herpes?

Thrush is also known as candidiasis or a yeast infection.

It is widely thought that that using a thrush cream to treat a yeast infection can make a genital herpes outbreak worse. So if you have both at once, it is best to use a pill (oral medication) to get rid of thrush: you can buy fluconazole pills (brand name Difflucan or Canesten) at the chemist or it can be prescribed by your doctor. One dose should be enough.Woman taking a thrush pill

First of all, it may be an idea to make sure that thrush is actually what you have. American studies show that two-thirds of women who buy over-the-counter thrush treatments don’t have a yeast infection at all.

Problems may also be caused by ‘jock itch’ – another itchy rash, often in the groin  Continue reading Thrush or herpes?