5 myths about herpes

A Herpes sore (Photo Source: Public Health images library)
Photo source: Public Health images library

With the recent announcement that Hollywood A-list actor Charlie Sheen is HIV positive, talk has turned once again to the spread of other STDs. Herpes is one of the most commonly spread sexually transmitted diseases. Part of the reason for this is that the herpes virus can lay dormant for years until an outbreak. It is during these outbreaks that a person can spread the virus. Herpes is currently an incurable disease but it is manageable. Here are five myths and truths about the herpes virus:

If I don’t have any sores, I don’t have herpes.
The herpes virus can lay dormant for years without showing visible symptoms. Many people with the virus may have trouble when an outbreak is occurring or even if they have the virus. The symptoms of herpes often appear as small fluid filled blisters in or around the genitals. Sometimes these blisters are painful or having a burning sensation. If you suspect you have herpes, you should sees a doctor immediately.

We didn’t have sex, so there’s no way I have genital herpes.
Herpes can be spread by skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the virus. What this means is that you can get herpes by touching, kissing, or having oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Your chances are higher of contracting the disease if you have a partner who has a visible sore. Even oral sex with a person who has a blister on their lip and using a condom or vaginal dam does not entirely protect you from infection.

Herpes is curable.
No, it is not. Once you have the disease, you have it for life. However, through medication the disease can be contained and a person can have a normal life.  A person should always check with their physician to determine the best course of treatment.

I can’t have a baby if I have herpes.
This is a common worry for some women with herpes, however it can be addressed. The mother must tell her doctor if she has herpes and inquire about the course of treatment. During an outbreak, a doctor may choose to deliver the baby by C-section.

When you have herpes, you know it.
It is estimated that 80 percent of people don’t know they have herpes. The only way to know for sure is to get tested.

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