Myths and Misconceptions About Herpes

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There are numerous herpes myths circulating on the internet because Herpes is among the most widespread person-to-person diseases in the world. While some of these are rooted in fact but are incorrect, others seem to endure despite being completely false.

While most people know that it is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI), many are unaware of what the herpes virus is, how it spreads, and how to protect themselves. 

Herpes stigma makes it more challenging for others to comprehend this STI. Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) and the type 2 (HSV-2) are two different types. HSV-1 can cause oral and genital Herpes, but HSV-2 only causes genital Herpes.

Some of the most common myths and misconceptions about Herpes are given below.

Herpes Is One Virus

Herpes is a virus that, once contracted, remains in your body. There are two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Most people consider it to be the original kind of oral Herpes HSV-1. This is because cold sores around the mouth are the most typical HSV-1 symptom. 

Although HSV-1 is becoming prevalent with genital infections, HSV-2 remains the leading source of sexually transmitted Herpes. That occurs when an individual with HSV-1 in their mouth transfers it to another person during oral intercourse.

You can experience recurrent outbreaks because the virus doesn’t leave the body, though it depends on your body. So some people experience an outbreak and never experience one again, while others never experience symptoms, and yet others experience outbreaks that periodically recur.

Herpes Is Very Rare

This is among the most common herpes myths there is. However, contrary to popular belief, it is very common and simple to develop Herpes.

The herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) is present in more than 3.7 billion persons under 50, as per the World Health Organization (WHO). If you have Herpes, you are among the majority, roughly 67% of the world’s population. The sexually transmitted infection which causes genital Herpes, herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), is present in 491 million people in the 15 to 49 age range.

Symptoms Are Easy to Spot

Herpes can manifest without symptoms, which is one of the main reasons why many who have it haven’t sought medical attention or received a formal diagnosis. Additionally, many symptoms, even those that manifest, are considered unrelated.

For instance, one of the most typical HSV-1 symptoms is cold sores. Unfortunately, many individuals aren’t even aware that Herpes and cold sores are related, much less than the sore increases the virus’s contagiousness.

A genital herpes infection can be detected by a few distinct symptoms, such as

  • Bruises near or on the reproductive system
  • Irritation and pain when urinating.

Other signs, however, include:

  • Fever
  • Swelling groin lymph nodes
  • Achy muscles

It’s common to assume that these symptoms (all of which can also be caused by HSV-1 of the mouth) are caused by a common cold. It makes sense because Herpes is a virus.

  • Doctors Always Test for Herpes

Even if you have routine STI testing, most doctors won’t include Herpes unless you specifically ask for it or exhibit symptoms. There isn’t a true test for it if you don’t have the lesions. If you have sores, your doctor may perform a procedure known as “unroofing,” in which they scrape a little portion of the lesion to provide a sample for testing.

Doctors can perform a blood test to check for antibodies if you exhibit no symptoms and are only curious about whether you have Herpes. However, even if antibodies are found in your system, this does not necessarily indicate that you are infected with the virus.

That proves you’ve been exposed, but since it happens so frequently, you’ve probably already been exposed unless you’ve never shared a drink and are entirely virgin. That’s not to suggest blood tests are useless; they can be helpful in some circumstances, such as when symptoms persist, but the culture is negative, or when lesions have previously occurred but no official diagnosis has been made.

  • Herpes Can Be Fully Cured with Medication

Even though herpes cannot be completely manipulated, there are medications that can lessen the pain and reduce the risk of transmission. For example, Abreva is an over-the-counter drug intended to speed up the healing of cold sores and shorten the period during which the virus is most contagious.

Regarding genital Herpes, drugs like Valtrex can help prevent outbreaks and reduce your risk of spreading Herpes, whether you have symptoms or not. In addition, medication for Herpes reduces the viral load, preventing an outbreak. 

This is especially true if you take it during the prodrome, when you may experience electric tingling, burning, or shooting pain to detect an outbreak. Even genital herpes women who are pregnant can take drugs to prevent passing the infection to their innocent babies while giving birth.

  • Herpes Treatment Is Difficult and Expensive

Another herpes myth is that it is difficult and expensive to treat. Fortunately, this is untrue. Herpes medication is readily accessible and affordable from many companies, offering cost-effective generic drugs to manage and control outbreaks.

The popular herpes drug Valtrex’s active component, valacyclovir, is now available in the United States as a medicinal product. Since herpes medicine is now more affordable than ever, controlling outbreaks is quite inexpensive.

Even better, if you occasionally suffer HSV-1 or HSV-2 outbreaks, there’s no need to drastically alter your lifestyle because herpes medication is simple to take and typically only needs to be administered for a few days to keep in control of outbreaks.

  • Herpes Can Spread Through Blood

This herpes myth is untrue, just like most others. Blood tests can be used to test for Herpes, but it cannot spread through the blood.

Those who have had herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 or 2 in the past are safe to donate blood as long as they follow these conditions:

  • All sores and lesions have dried up and healed.
  • In addition, they hold off for at least 48 hours after completing a course of antiviral medications.

Final Thoughts

If you’re suffering from genital Herpes, be assured that all is not lost. Herpes is not what society has portrayed it to be, as can be seen after reading all these myths and misconceptions about it. Therefore, in order to effectively manage a herpes outbreak, it is crucial that you have the correct information about it. So, always do your own research before believing any misconception.

FAQ

Is Herpes stigmatized and why?

Yes, Herpes is stigmatized greatly and is frequently misunderstood. The public perceives those with an STD as unclean and promiscuous.

How common is it to misdiagnose Herpes?

It turns out that professionals mistakenly diagnose Herpes 20% of the time, mistaking everything from yeast and fungal infections to other skin disorders for the STD. The tests also miss up to 25% of the real positive cases.

What can be mistaken for Herpes?

About 20% of herpes diagnoses are misdiagnosed cases of other conditions. These include yeast infections, Bacterial vaginosis, Trichomoniasis, Syphilis, and urinary tract infections.

Why can’t we cure Herpes?

Due to the nature of the virus, Herpes is difficult to treat. In addition, the HSV infection can remain dormant in a person’s nerve cells for several months or even years before emerging and becoming active.

What triggers herpes outbreaks?

Genital herpes outbreaks can be triggered by hormonal changes, such as those that take place during the menstrual cycle. Herpes can also be triggered by physical damage, a weakened immune system, and surgeries. 

Will there ever be a vaccine for Herpes?

Researchers are looking at possible vaccinations and topical microbicides to find a herpes cure. However, there is still a long time before a herpes cure is available.

Author: Syed Hasan

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