|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]
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.
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
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. 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, – a tiny proportion of these deaths.
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.
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?
It is surprising that people rarely catch it on the face as well as on the genitals! When you consider how often we do oral sex and ‘normal sex’ on the same night.
This is a common story/question that we get on the helpline/by email:
“I was diagnosed two months ago with genital herpes. I got it off my partner’s cold sore – yes, it is type 1 – and now I have something on my lip/in my mouth. [Described as a cut on lip, a lump in mouth, or an ulcer on tongue/gum]. Could this be facial herpes too – have I got a cold sore as well?”
The answer is “No, that is not going to be a cold sore.“
Why? When you get your first symptoms, Continue reading We did oral and regular sex – could I have herpes on my face too?
Each year, Public Health England publishes the number of new cases of genital herpes – and all STIs – diagnosed in clinics. (More will be diagnosed by GPs but these are not counted.)
This year, for the fifth year in a row, the total number of new cases of genital herpes has gone down: 32,737. And by the way, the total number of people accessing this STI clinics’ service continues to rise year on year.
In two groups, only, has the rate gone up a tiny bit: females in the 25-34 year age group, it is up slightly at 6,781 and for men and women over 66, a few more have been diagnosed each year – but only 200 men and 159 women!
But new cases of bacterial infections are up
For other conditions, the situation is more troubling: both syphilis and gonorrhoea are up. Both can be very serious if untreated, and gonorrhoea is getting almost impossible to treat as it becomes resistant to all antibiotics. (And there are no new antibiotics ‘in the pipeline’.) So use a condom with all new sexual partners until you have both been given the all-clear at a sexual health screening.
Remember that to get a diagnosis of herpes, you have to been seen immediately, while the spot is there.
The government has passed responsibility for sexual health services over to local government to commission (for the cheapest possible price). It has been noticed that almost everywhere services are getting less accessible. Services have moved out of hospitals into the community. But sometimes this means that people don’t know where to go. We hear people on the helpline telling us how hard it is to be seen, no appointment system, you have to wait ages. At least in some places (e.g. Burrell Street, London) they give you numbered tickets and tell yo to come back in an hour or so.
If you are not satisfied – be heard!
The helpline gets a lot of calls every (week) day and here are some of the most common questions:
“Will I transmit my genital herpes to my child?”
The answer to that is of course, “no you cannot – it is transmitted directly skin-to-skin with the affected area so clearly a mum with a cold sore does need to take care, but a mum with a genital sore is not going to infect her child with her genital herpes.
“I had sex last night and now I have an outbreak, will I have infected my partner with genital herpes?”
The answer is there are two possibilities. One: if your body was planning on having an outbreak today, then possibly you were infectious last night and the partner might have caught it. Two: (and this is much more likely) the late night or the friction has triggered the outbreak, and you would not have had it if you had not had sex. So you were not infectious last night. By the way, if sex triggers outbreaks, use a sexual lubricant with silicone.
“Who did I get herpes from?”
It is important to remember that a person can have their first outbreak of genital herpes many years after catching it. So, often you cannot know for sure where it came from.
“Is this (…long description…) herpes?”
We cannot diagnose on the phone. Each of the symptoms of a primary outbreak of herpes can be linked to many other illnesses. So, the ‘flu-like symptoms’ might actually be flu. The ‘itchiness that comes before the blisters appear’ might be caused by anything from allergy to washing powder, to eczema. The ache in the leg might be a strained muscle… Get diagnosed at a clinic.
Marian Nicholson, 15 March 2018
Today, I read that a man injected himself on stage at a conference with an herpes vaccine that is, as yet, untested in humans.
Aaron Traywick claimed that his herpes simplex vaccine which blocks glycoprotein subunit D virus was ‘new and could work’.
Continue reading Why bother with this herpes vaccine?
Like a letter in a bottle:
A member asked us about putting a Dates and Mates advert into the magazine: “I would like to meet some new friends male or female who I can trust and talk to… shall I put an ad in?” She added: “I had an invitation to a gathering but felt it was too big a step to take, I wish I had the confidence to do it …”
Continue reading Meeting people with herpes