Dedicated to eliminating the stigma of Genital Herpes by providing resources, support, and information on Herpes transmission, treatment options, self-help, diet, nutrition, dating, relationships, research, and news.
Established in 1994 by a former AOL Community Leader and Facilitator of the America Online Health Channel’s Herpes Support Community, HerpeSite.org is a non-commercial website. Unlike many sites, HerpeSite is *not* a shill for a product or owned by a product manufacturer or seller. The information here is not influenced or tainted by financial interests or obligations.
HerpeSite is mostly focused on Genital Herpes, but we also have a wealth of resources that apply to Oral Herpes and Cold Sores, too. You’ll find information and resources here that will help you and others you may know who may be dealing with an emotionally and physically difficult diagnosis of Herpes. Knowledge can help you in support of yourself and others, and will empower you to make appropriate decisions about treatments, lifestyle, and management of HSV infection.
What to Do First if You Think You Have Herpes
First – Don’t panic! No matter what, you will be fine! It is strongly recommended that anyone who may suspect a possible infection with Herpes immediately consult with a knowledgeable Health care professional. A qualified medical practitioner can help provide an accurate diagnosis, testing, and discuss suitable treatment options. In light of the fact that there is ongoing scientific research, evolving developments in medical theory and treatments, and much conflicting information about Herpes in the media and elsewhere, it is also advisable to continue personal research on any and all aspects of HSV that pertain to each individual’s situation.
And remember, Herpes is a skin rash caused by a virus, it doesn’t define you and it won’t kill you!
Introduction to Herpes
There are many HerpesViruses that affect humans. The primary ones we will focus on here are Herpes Simplex Types 1 and 2.
Herpes Simplex Type 1 (HSV-1)
HSV is an acronym for the Herpes Simplex Virus. HSV-1 is the virus responsible for cold sores and fever blisters. Research has shown that between 50 to 80% of Americans carry the antibodies to HSV-1. Between 10 to 20% of that population experiences recurring outbreaks. Even though a person may visibly show no signs of recurrence, it is possible for a person to pass the HSV-1 virus.
A staggering number of people, even those who have been infected for years, are unaware that these oral/facial outbreaks are a form of Herpes, and are therefore highly contagious. There is very little public awareness, education, or discussion of Herpes. We believe this is a major reason that it continues to spread.
HSV-1 can also infect the genital area, many times passed via oral sex with someone who has a cold sore. It’s been estimated that at least 30% to over 50% of all new cases of genital herpes results from HSV-1, but many Herpes researchers think that number is much higher.
Herpes Simplex Type 2 (HSV-2)
HSV-2 is generally thought of as “genital herpes,” although HSV-2 can also infect other areas of the body. While these viruses are very similar to each other, HSV-2 tends to “prefer” the genital area, is usually more virulent than HSV-1 in the genital location, and tends to recur more often. A genital infection with type 1 HSV has recurrence rate of about 5 times per year. An oral infection with type 2 HSV will rarely, if ever, recur.
The difference between “genital” Herpes and “oral” Herpes is in location only, not viral type!
Many people mistakenly refer to type 2 as “genital herpes,” and type 1 as “oral herpes,” when in fact, Herpes types 1 and 2 can and do infect either area. While many people have type 1 oral infections and type 1 or 2 genital infections as well, it is extremely rare for a person to have infections with type 1 and type 2 simultaneously in the same location. Some doctors now believe that more than half of new genital infections are caused by HSV-1.
General Herpes Information & Background
Remember, a Herpes infection is something people *get* – it’s not who they *are*! It’s a skin rash caused by a virus. Proper management of Herpes allows individuals and couples who have contracted this infection to live a full, rewarding, and yes, “normal” life. Management, like all other endeavors in life, may take work, time, and discipline. So stay with it!
Herpes is not just a sexually transmitted disease. There are more than nine herpesviruses in humans. Herpes has been around for millions of years, and reportedly ran rampant during the height of the Roman Empire. Ancient Egyptian medical papyri contain remedies for herpes. The word “herpes” comes from a Greek word meaning “to creep.” Herpes and Humans have been together since before recorded history!
The highest incidence of transmission of Herpes simplex virus, usually HSV-1, occur oral/facially in children through non-sexual contact. Often, an adult with a “cold sore” will kiss a child on the mouth and transfer the virus. The vast majority of Americans have had HSV-1 “cold sores” at one point or another in their life. Many people who have oral herpes deny or do not recognize that the outbreaks on their lips and face are caused by a herpes virus. Many will proclaim that they have “cold sores,” “fever blisters,” or “sun blisters,” and will not admit that these outbreaks are caused by a virus even when presented with scientific documentation. This, we believe, contributes to the spread of herpes viruses, and perpetuates the social stigma associated with the word “herpes” and Genital Herpes in particular. More about this on the Overview page of HerpeSite.
Cold Sores vs Herpes -
Don’t Buy into the Media-Driven Fear Campaign!
The social stigma associated with Genital Herpes is not found with Oral Herpes. The fear and stigma around Genital Herpes is unfounded, unfair, and solely based on the LOCATION of the infection! Oral Herpes and Genital Herpes are simply a skin rash caused by a virus… Except in exceedingly rare cases – as in a newborn baby or someone with a compromised immune system – neither will kill you, neither will cause long-term medical or cosmetic issues, neither will occur more than a couple times a year at most, and neither will prevent you from doing, being, or having anything you want in life.
We think that the antiquated puritanical MEDIA-DRIVEN LOCATIONAL prejudice about Genital Herpes needs to stop. The VAST MAJORITY of the World’s population has Oral Herpes, yet no one is running around freaking out about it or making comments about the lifestyle or character of the people who have it or writing articles about how bad it is!
Remember that Genital Herpes is a skin rash caused by a virus, just like “cold sores” or “fever blisters.” Similar to “Chicken Pox” or “Shingles.” Any idea about the “badness” of it stems from an outdated social convention based on puritanical notions of health, sexuality, and LOCATION! It won’t kill you and will most likely have a minimal effect on your life… unless you let it.
There’s a lot more here at HerpeSite! Check out our pages on Symptoms, Treatments, Testing, Outbreak Prevention, Support, and Dating… The original resources for the Support Group that became Herpesite came from research studies & medical journals cataloged at University Medical Libraries. For a list of those studies, go to our new Research Page.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline for immediate help. A caring person is there to talk to 24/7. 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Via TTY at 800-799-4889