|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]
Dr Ruth Itzhaki has been working on a possible link between cold sores and the development of Alzheimer’s for a long time.
Now she is suggesting it is time to investigate the use of antivirals in mid-life, with the view of preventing Alzheimer’s later on.
She says “We discovered in 1991 that in many elderly people HSV1 is also present in the brain. And in 1997 we showed that it confers a strong risk of Alzheimer’s disease when present in the brain of people who have a specific gene known as Apoe-e4.”
She adds ”The likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease is 12 times greater for Apoe-e4 carriers who have HSV1 in the brain than for those with neither factor.”
This is why we don’t see Alzheimer’s developing in the all of the 67% of the population who carry herpes simplex type 1 virus .
For cold sores to be a problem, the person has to also have the unusual gene. Wikipedia tells us that only 14% of the population has the Apoe-e4 variant.
Dr Itzhaki suggests that “It’s time to investigate the use of antivirals [aciclovir or other] in mid-life with the view of preventing Alzheimer’s later on.”
More research will be needed to see how effective aciclovir is in preventing the development of Alzheimer’s in people with type 1. It is such an easy treatment, if it works this will be most welcome!
And this research is totally irrelevant to people with genital infection.
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.
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
We need to protect sexual health services
Sign the petition to maintain the sexual health services. Since the government REMOVED sexual health from the NHS and asked local councils to provide it, the standard of services (access times, staffing, etc) has gone down.
You need to show that members of the public do want the provision of anonymous, easily accessible sexual health clinics. Sign now!
We have been following the development of Theravax from Rational Vaccines. This is the work of Dr Bill Halford’s team. (I recently spoke to their business manager on the phone.) This is an interesting vaccine, because it is different from the others currently being worked on and it is more like the successful chickenpox vaccine.
Continue reading Potential vaccine?
We run these days to help you develop confidence, information, skills – and to meet others in the same boat.
Nine people attended recently. They marked their score cards with the top rating: a ‘very helpful’ day and several commented that it was even more enjoyable than they had expected. “Meeting the others on the course is a bonus,” said one lady. “In fact I have made two new friends and we support each other and meet up.” These days happen every three months.
Continue reading ‘Talking to a New Partner’ – Come to an Event That Will Give You Confidence (and Information)
If you get cold sores, you might like to try the new cold sores treatment with melissa. The researcher is keen to have more people to try this new, improved formula – and report back to him. A man who tested an earlier formula is totally thrilled at the results: much better than anything else he’s tried, and he’s tried a lot of different products!
You may have read some headlines in the Sun or the Mail, etc. They report “‘Women infected with herpes while they are pregnant are twice as likely to have a child with autism.” This headline comes from a study looking at whether maternal infections during pregnancy are associated with the risk of neurological developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
Continue reading No “Link between herpes in pregnancy and autism”