Herpes

The Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) most often shows up as small blisters or sores on either the face, mouth (cold sores or fever blisters) or genitals.

There are two types of the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)

  • Type 1 (HSV-1) and
  • Type 2 (HSV-2)  

HSV-1 or mouth herpes are commonly in the form of cold sores on and around the mouth. HSV-2 or genital herpes is a much more intense strand, commonly found on the genitals. However, BOTH types can be found on the mouth or genital areas.

 
Guidance and Direction for people living with genital herpes

A diagnosis of genital herpes often comes as a shock. Many people do not feel comfortable talking about sexuality and sexual health issues.

There are many avenues for help, reassurance and guidance. Below are resources that can offer help and support for people living with and affected by herpes:

Counselling

Adequate information about genital herpes and the implications for the future are an important part of clinical management and treatment. Counselling offers a way of dealing with your concerns.

If you or your partner are finding it hard to come to terms with the news, need advice, guidance for the future, or just need to talk with someone a medical expert or counsellor can help give you some direction.

Encourage yourself or your partner to speak with a medical expert or counsellor. 

Support Groups

The experience and support of other people with herpes can be extremely valuable.

Support groups for people with herpes exist in some countries and have the objective of providing support and education to people with herpes.

For anyone who feels isolated by genital herpes, self-help groups can provide a much-needed arena for open discussion and the exchange of information and ideas.

Living with Genital Herpes - A practical approach
Getting the facts

The more emotionally charged an issue, the more important it is to find out the facts. Most people know little or nothing about herpes. Frequently, what knowledge they have is colored by myth and misconception.

Having the correct information makes it easier for everyone concerned.  Genital herpes is extremely common. In some countries, up to one in five people are infected with this virus, whether they know it or not.

Some basic facts that you should know
TRANSMISSION
  • HSV can be passed on when one person has the virus present on the skin or mucosa and another person makes direct skin-to-skin contact with the live virus.
  • The virus is likely to be present on the skin from the first sign of prodrome (tingling or itching where the outbreak usually occurs), until the sores have completely healed and new skin is present.
  • There are likely to be certain periods of time (possibly only a few days out of the year) when the active virus might be on the skin, even though there are no obvious signs or symptoms.
  • Always using latex condoms may possibly reduce the risk of transmitting the virus at these times.
  • Herpes is very frequently transmitted by infected persons who do not know they are infected. 
  • Once diagnosed, a person generally is able to take the simple precautions necessary to protect partners – avoiding contact during prodrome or an outbreak and practising safer sex when no symptoms are present.
ATTITUDE AND SELF-ESTEEM
  • A positive attitude helps greatly, starting with a positive feeling towards oneself
  • It is important for individuals to have time and space so that they can learn about their strengths and develop them
  • For anyone who finds stress a particular problem or has trouble relaxing, there are specific techniques, such as meditation and courses on stress management, that can help.
OUTBREAKS AND RECURRENCES
  • A person who experiences recurrent genital herpes should try to get to know the pattern of their outbreaks, and may discover the particular circumstances that trigger an episode and learn to avoid them
  • For most people who have active blisters or sores the outbreaks can be eliminated, with fairly rapid healing time and often little to no recurrences using Choraphor
  • To gain relief from frequent recurrences, antiviral treatment can help. It can prevent some recurrences and provide valuable ‘breathing time’ in which people can learn to strengthen their own resources.
How do I tell someone, especially my partner, I have genital herpes?

When it comes down to the basics of telling, there is no foolproof method. What you say and how you say it are going to depend on your own personal style.  It is only natural to feel apprehensive about telling someone else about genital herpes for the first time.

A good long-term relationship must be based always on honesty and trust. While some people may experience an unsupportive response, most have found their partners are both supportive and understanding.

  • If your partner does decide not to pursue a relationship with you simply because you have herpes, it is in your best interest to find out now. It takes a lot more than the occasional aggravation of herpes to destroy a sound relationship.
  • Carefully choose the time and place for telling someone. Although it may not be necessary to tell someone right at the beginning of a relationship, do not wait until after a serious relationship is established as this is not fair to the other person. 
  • The discussion could take place where you feel safe and comfortable. Some people turn off the TV, take the phone off the hook, and approach the subject over a quiet dinner at home. Others prefer a more public place, like walking in the park, or a quiet restaurant, so that their partner will feel free to go home afterwards to think things through.
  • Be prepared. Plan what is going to be said and have your facts about genital herpes clear. It can be a good idea to have relevant printed information on hand for someone to read.
  • Be spontaneous. Be confident. You are doing the right thing for both of you. By telling your partner you allow them to enter into the relationship with full knowledge of your infection 
  • When you have an outbreak, you can discuss it with a partner instead of making excuses for why you can’t have sex. If the two of you are able to discuss the situation, openly and honestly, you can negotiate around it. Imaginative lovers find ways to weather these temporary setbacks.
  • Consider how you would feel if the roles were reversed and you were being told. You can also role play the situation with a friend who already knows your situation, but do not let them always play the understanding partner. Convincing another person can help convince you.
  • More information on genital herpes can be obtained by contacting your doctor or a sexual health clinic.

Personal rejection, with or without herpes, is a possibility we all face. Fear of rejection can lead some to question why they should risk talking about herpes and choose not to disclose the fact.  Instead they abstain during outbreaks, practice safe sex at other times, and hope for the best.

This way of thinking can have more disadvantages than advantages:

  • You spend a lot of time and energy worrying that your partner is going to get herpes.
  • The longer you put off telling, the more likely your partner will find out elsewhere.
  • It gets harder to do the longer you wait
  • For most people, the anxiety of not telling is worse than the telling itself.
  • Excuses create distance between partners and often lead to dangerous guesswork. Your partner might interpret your excuses in ways more damaging to the relationship than an honest discussion of genital herpes would be
  • Your attitude will influence how this news is received. Psychologists have observed that people tend to behave the way you expect them to behave, and expecting rejection increases the chances of an unhappy outcome. 
The importance of self-esteem, adaptation and acceptance.
  • Herpes does not change all the good and wonderful things that make you ‘you’.  It has nothing to do with your intelligence, social habits, or bank account. You are a loving, sexual, whole individual. No one else on the planet has the things that you have to offer.
  • Unconsciously, many of us have a lot of negative beliefs related to herpes that make it difficult to convince ourselves that others would want to be with us. It is important to recognize these beliefs and consciously change them. Accepting the fact that you have herpes will make it easier to let others into your life.
  • Sit down with a pen and paper and say to yourself, “I have herpes.” What thought pops into your head? No matter what it is, write it down. Do this again and again until you have identified a number of the stereotypical/negative feelings that you have about herpes.
  • Look at your list. How many of the negative feelings or beliefs are truly valid?  Take your list and replace each of your negative beliefs with a positive one.
  • You have the power to change what you believe about yourself. Whenever you find your inner voice telling you that you can’t do or have anything that you desire, simply interrupt it and firmly repeat to yourself your positive replacement. The more often you repeat these positive statements, the more they reinforce themselves.
  • You can think and believe whatever you choose about yourself. It might take some repetition. Years of negative belief patterns do not disappear overnight. But eventually, by deliberately replacing your old negative beliefs with positive new ones, you can begin to change how you think and feel about yourself – consciously and unconsciously.
  • Well done!  You have confronted a difficult issue in your life with courage and consideration.
What if your partner has genital herpes?

If your partner has genital herpes, your support may be very important in helping him or her deal with this condition, which can also directly affect you. When your partner goes back to the doctor, you may wish to go too, so that you can find out more about the infection. 

Where can I get more information and advice?

After you have read this information and discussed genital herpes with your partner, you might have specific questions or concerns. Your doctor or your partner’s doctor should be able to answer such questions or recommend other experts who can provide advice and support. Continue to go back to your doctor until all your queries about genital herpes are answered.

In some areas, there are local genital herpes support groups that can be a valuable source of information and support. Ask your doctor if there is such a group in your area or look through ourSupport Groups page.

If you want further information regarding herpes treatment, you can:

Click here for more information about Herpes

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