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Herpes Facts

Herpes Facts: 11 Things Everyone Should Know About Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes (HSV-1, HSV-2) is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases/infections worldwide.  Yet surprisingly, a herpes blood test is NOT included in most STD testing panels.

  1. Genital Herpes can be caused by both or either HSV-1 and HSV-2.  Oral herpes can also be caused by either HSV-1 or HSV-2, although oral HSV-2 is less common.
  2. 60% to 80% of Adults in the US have HSV-1.  Most people contract HSV-1 when they are children by receiving a kiss from a parent, friend or relative.  HSV-1 is commonly known for causing occasional cold-sores around the mouth. HSV-1 is also the leading cause of genital herpes.
  3. HSV-1 is responsible for more than HALF of all new cases of genital herpes in the United States.  The rise in the number of cases of genital HSV-1 is due to the increasing prevalence of oral sex, for which most people do not use protection.  Even when symptoms or sores are not present, it is quite common to spread HSV-1 from one partner to another via oral to genital contact.
  4. About 16% (one in six) persons ages 14-49 in the United States has a genital HSV-2 infection. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This figure does NOT include anyone with a genital HSV-1 infection, and HSV-1 accounts for more than HALF of all new cases of genital herpes.  The figure above also does NOT include data for anyone age 50 or over.  Therefore, the actual percent of people with genital herpes is likely to be more than 30% of all adults in the US.
  5. Women have a higher incidence than men of HSV-2, about 20% (or 1 in every 5 women). This is because the vagina has more surface of mucous membranes than the penis and therefore more possibility for the virus to take hold.
  6. @90% of people with herpes DO NOT EVEN KNOW that they have Herpes.  Most doctors do NOT include a blood test for herpes, even when they are testing their patients for other common STD’s.  “Testing for everything” usually does NOT include a test for herpes.  You have to ask your doctor specifically to give you a herpes blood test, otherwise, it is usually excluded.  Therefore, most people have NEVER been tested for herpes.
  7. For most people with herpes, symptoms are absent, or are very mild and infrequent, and are easily mistaken for something else – like a vaginal infection, jock itch or ingrown hair, etc.  Most people with herpes never notice any symptoms at all and have no idea that they have herpes.  The herpes pictures you may find online only show the worst cases, which are extremely rare.
  8. Herpes can be spread even when there are no noticeable symptoms.  In fact, most new cases of herpes occur when there are NO noticeable symptoms, but the virus is still present on the surface of the skin.  This is called “asymptomatic shedding“.  More often than not, the “gifter” does not even know that they have herpes or that it is possible to spread herpes when there are no noticeable symptoms.
  9. People who carry the herpes virus are usually only contagious a small percent of the time. There are many ways to reduce the risk of getting herpes or spreading herpes.   Proper use of antiviral medications and condoms, keeping healthy and avoiding stress, are some of the ways to reduce the risk of spreading herpes.
  10. Nice, normal, non-promiscuous people can and do get genital herpes every day.  Tons of people you know may already be living with genital herpes, whether or not they know it.  Maybe your teacher, your boss, your co-worker,  your classmate, your parent, your room-mate,  your doctor,  your pastor, your sibling, your best friends, and maybe even you!   Just because you don’t have any symptoms does NOT mean that you don’t have herpes or another STD.  Your doctor has probably never ever given you a herpes blood test.  If you want to know your herpes status, you have to ASK your doctor specifically to give you a herpes blood test.
  11. Dating with Herpes does mean making a few adjustments that you probably wish you had made from the very beginning.  Just because you have genital herpes does not mean that your love life is over or that you will never date again.  There are many popular herpes dating sites and herpes social groups and herpes support groups where you can meet thousands of people who already have what you have. You can also date people who do not have herpes – by being honest up front before becoming intimate, and by following some simple guidelines to help protect your partners.