Courtney Weaver provides some helpful information on one of the more common STIs – Herpes! She talks transmission, treatment, symptoms, and more. For more information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes-detailed.htm. And for useful tips on how to talk to your partner: http://www.itsyoursexlife.com/stds-testing-gyt/article/talk-to-your-partner
Welcome everyone to another episode of Wellbeing Wednesdays. I am your host, Courtney Weaver. I’m also the director over at Well WVU here at West Virginia University. And once again, I’m all by my lonesome today. So that means we’re going to talk about yet another STI, because that’s what happens when I don’t have a guest.
I think like, man, this is she going to run out of STI sometime soon? Well, according to the CDC, there’s actually 25 different STS that are recognized. So we’ll have plenty to cover, but actually never fear because next week I do have a guest lined up, so you won’t have to hear me prattle on and on. But today I thought that we would talk about a viral STI by the name.
Herpes. So let’s start with the basics. All right. So there are two strains of herpes HSV one and HSV two. So HSV equals herpes simplex virus. That’s what it stands for. So HSV one is generally seen as oral herpes. That’s also known as the common cold. It’s also just incredibly common in the population.
A lot of folks get that when they’re children and I’ve seen estimates of anywhere between 50 and 90% of Americans actually have HSV one. And then HSV two is usually considered to be genital herpes. So herpes is a viral infection, and I find it’s easy to remember the viral infections cause they all start with an H.
And what’s important about that is because it’s. It’s not curable, but it is treatable. Herpes is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, and we’ll sort of dive into the specifics of that a little bit later. And someone is most infectious when they have an outbreak, but the virus can be shed from normal appearing, oral or genital mucosa and skin.
So we’re going to focus a lot of our conversation today about genital herpes or it just V2. So let’s start with how common is it? And it’s actually so common. I literally, in my notes are so common in all capital letters with an exclamation point. So how. It’s approximately one in six Americans aged 14 to 49 live with an HSV, two infection.
And actually overall the prevalence of genital herpes is higher because an increasing number of cases of genital herpes infections are actually caused by HSV one. So there is a higher rate of infection among female bodied folks. Generally that can be the case with most STS because when you think about the vagina, it really just is.
Big mucus membrane. And so that makes it a little bit more susceptible to infections. And so most people who are infected with herpes may actually be unaware of their infection and estimated 87.4% of 14- to 49-year-olds who are infected with HSV two have never received a clinical diagnosed. And just for everyone else’s information, just so you know, I got this info from the centers for disease control and prevention.
They have a detailed fact sheet about herpes. I’m going to link to it in the description for today’s podcast. So now let’s talk about transmission. So like I said earlier and by earlier, I mean like 30 seconds ago herpes is transmitted from skin to skin. So specifically it’s transmitted through contact with HSB in herpes lesions.
You call social services, genital secretions, or oral secretions. Basically what happens is that the virus sheds and that can occur. Like I said earlier from normal appearing, oral or genital mucosa or skin generally a person can only get an HSV, two infection during genital contact with someone who has a genital HSV, two infection, however, receiving oral sex from someone who has oral herpes or HSV one can result in getting a genital HSV one, in fact and then transmission commonly occurs from contact with an infected partner who does not have any visible lesions and who may or may not know that they are infected.
So folks might not know that they’re infected because most folks who are, are actually asymptomatic or they have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed, or they’re mistaken for another skin condition. When it comes to symptoms that you can see, and we’ve talked about outbreaks, the first outbreak of herpes is often associated with a longer duration of the lesions.
That means that also that there’s increased viral shedding. So that makes transmission more likely. And then you might experience some systemic symptoms that can include kind of like flu like symptoms. So fever, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, or headaches. And it should be noted that the first outbreak is usually the.
In recurrent outbreaks, you might experience like localized genital pain or tingling or shooting pains in the legs, hips or buttocks, which can occur hours today’s before any lesions appear. But if recurrent outbreaks do happen, they don’t last as long, and they actually get less severe over time. Now, if someone has an HSV, one genital infection, they have many less recurrences and shedding than an HSB, two genital.
To get tested for herpes. They usually do something called a viral culture test. So they’ll swab the area. They might also just diagnose on site based on the symptoms. And then there are some blood tests that you can get done as well. Now for treatment. Remember, it’s a viral infection, so it’s not curable, but it’s treatable.
So there are antiviral medications that you can take that can prevent and shorten outbreaks. And then you can also take a daily suppressive therapy. Another antiviral for herpes that can reduce the likelihood of transmission to partners. Unfortunately unlike with like HPV or hepatitis B, there is no vaccine to protect against this particular infection.
So now when we think about complications, I would say that the biggest complication that may arise is just some shame and embarrassment because there’s a lot of stigma around this particular STI. I can’t tell you how many times. I’ve had students come in and sit down and say, you know, I just received this diagnosis and now my S my sex life is over.
So there is lots of, a lot of concerns on how it will impact someone’s overall health and their sex life and their relationships. And, you know, these feelings are valid. You know, herpes is not a curable infection, but I think it’s important to also note that it is manageable, and you can really reduce the risk of transmitted it to future partners and reduce the number of outbreaks that you have with medication and other proper manner.
So one thing that you will need to do, if you are living with this infection is that it’s important that you disclose the infection to your sexual partners. If you don’t know the best way to do that, or maybe it’s just not something that you’re comfortable with. I’m going to drop a link into the description of the podcast.
MTV had this really great website called it’s your sex life.com, but they actually talk a lot about talking to your partner. About if you have an STD or STI, I should say. And they have some really, really good information because I think at the end of the day, it’s about respect. It’s about respecting yourself and respecting your partner and everyone’s health.
And then if you have an open conversation about it, you can also talk about the different ways that you can protect you. So in addition to talking to your sexual partners something that you’ll probably want to do is you want to just avoid having sex during an outbreak, just because that is when transmission is most likely to happen.
You want to use suppressive, antiviral therapy, which we talked about and that’ll help reduce outbreaks and the risk of transmission. And you’ll also want to continue…