I’m so excited to be able to answer any questions you may have on STIs and specifically, herpes! After working in public health for the last decade, I’ve pretty much heard it all, and there’s no topic or question that’s too weird or too awk. Herpes, in particular, is something that carries a huge stigma with it, but it’s largely unnecessary. Many people think that herpes is shameful (spoiler alert: it’s not), because most of us are clueless about it, but it’s a lot more common than you think, and it doesn’t have to change or limit anything in your life.

You may have seen my work in outlets like: The Washington Post, CNN, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Forbes, NPR, Rolling Stone, Refinery 29, The Daily Mail, Bustle, Elite Daily, The Today Show, and many more.

So, let’s chat about all things herpes and STDs/STIs: from prevention, safer sex, and transmission risk to disclosure and stigma, I’ve got you covered!

You can see some proof and more of myself and The STI Project:

Here - https://www.instagram.com/thestiproject/ And here - https://linktr.ee/thestiproject/

11:00pm EST Edit: Hey ya'll, I’m signing off for now, but thank you so much for all of your questions! I’ll be doing a Facebook Live tomorrow at 8.30PM EST where I'll be discussing genital herpes with Dr Shepherd, Jaya Jaya Myra, and Alexandra Harbushka. However, I'll be checking back earlier in the day to answer any questions I've missed, so please keep them coming! Follow this Facebook page to tune in to tomorrow's LIVE event!

Comments: 1477 • Responses: 43  • Date: 

Literellee354 karma

I have accepted my diagnosis and feel like I am in a good place. But outbreaks still suck! How do you manage them?

thestiproject122 karma

Outbreaks DO still suck. I get them, too - I've always envied the folx who get them rarely or not at all. Right now, I take suppressive therapy, which is a prescription anti-viral daily, and whenever I feel prodromal symptoms (it's tingling and little bit of itchiness, for me), I try to stop the outbreak before it happens with holistic/natural approaches - FemiClear just came out with a new cream that has helped me to reduce length of my outbreaks and to make them less annoying. In the past, I've made my own concoctions, but I never knew whether I was using the right amount or if something I was using might make things worse! That's my one-two punch for outbreaks, to be cheesy about it!

Drunk_Skunk1121 karma

I have learned that major mental stress is a big trigger for me and the only thing that really helps is being open, journaling, and meditation. It helps almost instantly every time I start to get that “tingly” feeling. You are not alone!

thestiproject95 karma

YES! Stress is a common trigger for outbreaks (for me, too)!

FastWalkingShortGuy250 karma

How do you feel about people who draw the line at being in a relationship or having intercourse with those who have incurable STIs like herpes or HIV?

Do you feel they're intolerant, or that it is a reasonable personal preference to maintain a disease-free lifestyle?

thestiproject185 karma

I think everyone has the right to make their own decisions about their body and the risks they're willing to take. Of course, all partnered sexual activities contain some level of risk, but everyone feels differently about different risks, and that can even change from relationship to relationship.

Sometimes, rejection comes as a result of folx who don't really understand their relevant risks - they feel like the people who "don't have" or don't know they have an STI are "safer," and that's typically due to a lack of comprehensive sex education (the vast majority of us get crap sex ed), but again, I still believe in honoring that decision, because no one wants a new infection of any kind (I don't want a cold or the flu), but unfortunately, pathogens are part of the human experience!

FastWalkingShortGuy202 karma

Okay, I understand your point, but approach it from the point of view of potentially making a permanent decision about your health in return for a likely temporary sexual arrangement.

Can you really argue that people who don't have incurable STIs are not safer partners?

It's not really like the cold or the flu, which are largely contracted by chance. Like, you don't accidentally fuck someone in the produce section at the supermarket and catch HPV, you know?

That's kind of a disingenuous analogy.

thestiproject206 karma

I mean, if fucking someone in the middle of the supermarket is your thing, then I'm not going to yuck your yum! ;)

But for real, though, I can see why you might feel like it's disingenuous, so I'll add context here. The vast majority of all sexually active people contract an STI at some point in their lives. And when I say the vast majority, I mean, well over 80%. So, as much as we socially shun STIs and contracting any kind of infection, really, but STIs, in particular, it's a highly likely scenario.

Let's look at the numbers. There are over 30+ STIs (according to the World Health Organization), and many of those you cannot be tested for. You can get "full" STI panels done regularly, test negative for the infections on those panels, and still have an unknown STI - that's quite common. For instance, a person who has a penis cannot be tested for HPV. If you are a person who has a penis, the only way to know if you have HPV is if you have signs or symptoms, and the majority of all HPV infections are asymptomatic. What that boils down to is that if you are sexually active, there's no way to know 100% for sure that you are negative for all infections.

Still, there will be some who agree with your take, or maybe you're playing devil's advocate here, which is also ok, and the reason they feel that way is related to a couple of factors, but primarily the psychology of disgust. First their level of disgust sensitivity might be higher. The psychology of disgust both dictates how the public feels about STIs (ew, they're yucky) and also why so many people decide that it's not a big deal and the risk is worth the reward.

No one gets to decide for you or gets to coerce you into making a decision about risk - that's a very personal decision - and I'm certainly not trying to tell you that you SHOULD consider sexual activities with someone who has a known infection, but I am saying that in many instances, the person who knows their positive status is relatively "safer" than the person who assumes they don't have anything...

mrdarcypup227 karma

I recently got diagnosed and have been really struggling. I am a very open person and typically tell my best friend and mom everything. But I haven't told them because I am scared they will think less of me or judge me. I don't want my mom to think I am a slut! Do you recommend telling friends and family? What is the best way to do so?

thestiproject357 karma

You are not at all alone! The only people you have to tell are people who you intend to be sexually active with, so if your best friend and mom aren't safe outlets for that type of personal information, then you absolutely don't have to tell them. I've had both good and bad experiences telling friends and family, and if you aren't ready to handle a negative response from them, then I would wait until you feel stronger in your resolve, in your status, and what that means for you!

ServerCubeOfficial109 karma

What impact has herpes had on your sex life?

thestiproject159 karma

I love this question! Herpes hasn't impacted my sex life AT ALL! This is not always the case for everyone, but I've never had a partner not want to be with me because of my status. I recently asked my husband on camera if he thought about herpes while we were having sex (I know, it's an awkward question), and he said absolutely not, like I was nuts! But I intentionally asked him, because I wanted to prove the point that it's usually a non-issue once folx decide they're interested in pursuing a relationship (of any kind)!

facelesspantless116 karma

I'm not surprised your husband doesn't think about herpes when you have sex. Presumably, he's in it for the long haul and has accepted the fact that, at some point, he's going to get it and that's all good and fine.

However, your assertion that "folx" at large don't mind genital herpes when pursuing "any kind" of relationship is so incredibly unbelievable that it comes across as deliberately deceitful.

thestiproject11 karma

My husband was a boyfriend before he was ever my husband, and he felt the same when then as he does now. My last partner felt the same way my husband does. My partner before that felt the same way, and the ones before that.

While my experiences are not representative of everyone's experiences, I've been working in public health and the field of STI education, in particular, for a decade. In that time, I've interviewed over 500 people with STIs, I've worked with hundreds of people one-on-one, I've taught hundreds of people through courses, and I've interacted with thousands of people through my platforms, and more often than not, my experience is shared by others who have an STI.

That's not to say that rejection doesn't happen, because it most certainly does, but to say that acceptance is the norm is not deceitful, it's simply fact. However, that you find it hard to believe it speaks to the pervasiveness of the stigma itself and the lack of understanding around STIs, how common they are, why stigma persists, and what happens psychologically in relationships. It's ok that you feel that way, but you are projecting and making assumptions whereas I'm sharing both personal and professional experience.

sarahwalksalright103 karma

Would you have answered this question differently when you were single?

thestiproject132 karma

Nope! I mean, it literally has never impacted my sex life. When I was single, it didn't limit or change the amount of sexual activity I was able to enjoy, when I've had a partner, it hasn't impeded on our relationship, and even once I became a public advocate, much to my surprise, it actually INCREASED the amount of people who landed in my DMs (that's how I met my husband)!

8ad8andit265 karma

I've known three women who had herpes and dated two of them. In each case it had a pretty big impact on their romantic life I think. Not sure I believe OP's answer here. It sounds just a little too positive and jolly.

Duke_Newcombe68 karma

As she said before, no two people who carry the virus have the exact same experience. I think you're judging from a limited sample size.

If we can have people having healthy sex lives who are freaking HIV Positive (getting meds, but still HIV+), certainly there are folks with herpes that can.

sk8rgrrl6915 karma

Many people living with HIV are undetectable which means they cannot transmit the virus. There are also other reliable preventive options like PrEP and condoms. The same cannot be said for herpes.

While I certainly respect efforts to spread awareness and destigmatize, it’s ok to not want to contract herpes and I’m not sure how that fits into the narrative that it’s no big deal. For some people it is.

thestiproject10 karma

Both can exist at the same time - it doesn't have to be one or the other. Herpes is not a big deal for me and for many who have it, but that doesn't mean that someone should want a herpes infection. I don't want a new infection of any kind either, if I can help it, but I also understand my risk.

meanbitchent27 karma

Well I know 5 including myself and none of us have any problems so...

blacklite91121 karma

Do all of you disclose to your partner every time before you have sex?

If you’re all in committed relationships, did you all disclose beforehand?

I know personally, I may be willing if I really connected, but it would be on my mind as to protect myself appropriately. I don’t believe the part about her husband not thinking about it at all.

It’s just rational to either 1. Protect yourself or 2. Accept that you may get it, I can’t imagine simply not thinking about it at all.

thestiproject4 karma

Indeed. I didn't say he never thought about it at all. I can tell you he doesn't think about it often, but when we first got together, he did research and decided how he wanted to move forward based on that research. If someone never thought about it at all, I would actually implore them to think about it from a practical perspective, because the last thing I want is for someone to be caught off-guard if they contract an infection or for a person who has an infection to be attacked, despite disclosing. Fully informed consent means you have to think about it and what your personal boundaries and needs are.

thestiproject16 karma

My herpes is old enough to buy booze. How's that for jolly?!? I suspect the women you dated have had herpes for far fewer years than I have, as is usually the case with those who are still having a hard time with it. It often IS traumatizing, and it can feel limiting or debilitating for people early-on! That doesn't make my experience any less likely.

the_peppers6 karma

Why tf would she lie? She's a sexual health educator not a Herpes lobbyist.

thestiproject7 karma

lol, exactly.

mxvement94 karma

I mean, really? Can you acknowledge that most young people don’t have the self esteem and stability for an sti not to have an affect on their sex life. I struggled with thrush for a few years and the physical discomfort and embarrassment was crippling for me sometimes. I would put off having sex, going on dates, I felt uncomfortable and dirty. I understand you’re saying we should remove the stigma. But you come off a little weird to say it literally never impacted your sex life.

doberEars26 karma

Everyone is different, and she literally says the more open she was about her diagnosis the more she got laid.

Your internal stigmatization of feeling "dirty" was the culprit for the embarassment being crippling, where others can rationalize and apply understanding to their STIs and not feel that way. Comprehensive sex education may have been a factor in that for you that's different for other people. Some people are socialized to find sex shameful and STIs moreso, but that's not always the case.

Most people get STIs. If someone on the dating scene discloses to a handful of partners with no incident or drama, that's good for everyone, don't you think?

mxvement21 karma

Yep, I agree with you now. I guess I originally wanted her comment to acknowledge that it would be hard for some people. But I see now that wasn’t necessary.

thestiproject6 karma

I never said it wasn't hard. Having the disclosure conversation never really gets easy (it gets less scary and easIER, and you can feel stronger and more confident in your approach - that's really the goal), but it's awkward, because we don't have a lot of helpful or practical examples of how that looks in real life! But A LOT of things in relationships and sex, in particular, are awkward - awkward doesn't necessarily mean bad. Awkward can encourage vulnerability, and vulnerability improves intimacy!

cyrilfiggis66614 karma

I know I’ll get downvoted to hell, but honestly it’s waaaaaaay easier for women to get laid than men. I’ll confidently say the same thing about women with herpes vs men with herpes. I am happy for you and your experience.

thestiproject6 karma

I've actually heard this echoed by folx I've worked with a few times, so I don't think it's a bad observation, and there's some interesting aspects therein that could be unpacked around why that's the case!

Unable-Object-828352 karma

Did you have a partner when you were diagnosed? How do I effectively disclose my diagnosis to someone without scaring them away?

thestiproject108 karma

I did not have a partner when I was diagnosed. I'm not actually sure who I contracted herpes from, because I was 16 at the time, and I was too scared to ask the couple of people I had had sex with for fear that I would ask the wrong one and then more people would know about my status.

Your second questions is interesting, because it depends on how you define "effectively" - I think an effective disclosure is one where you feel good about the conversation you had, that you honored your needs, your body, and your partner(s)' needs and their body, regardless of the outcome. I know everyone wants acceptance, and absolutely no one wants to experience a "rejection," but if we reframe the conversation as reciprocal, it feels less like a rejection of YOU and more like a discovery of something that's not going to be a good fit for all parties involved.

triharder6424 karma

oh crap. I need help with this one too

thestiproject124 karma

These are my 7 tips:

#1 While it can be an uncomfortable conversation, you should disclose your STI status before you and your partner(s) engage in sexual activity for the first time.⁠

#2 Making sure you're having the conversation clothed and sober ensures there is no coercion and full consent can be given, giving your partner(s) the physical and emotional space to consider what they’d like to do and what it means to them.⁠

#3 The best setting to disclose your STI status is, typically, whatever environment feels safest for you. Try the kitchen table, a quiet park, your living room, or somewhere private and not sexually charged. Even though many folx believe face-to-face is the only way, any method is better than none at all. If you feel uncomfortable/unsafe having the discussion face-to-face, feel free to call, text, or send an email instead. Technology might allow a partner to pause and consider before responding, without you or them being worried about their initial reaction or facial expression.⁠

#4 Try to approach the conversation from a calm and confident place, but if you cry or get upset, cut yourself some slack. It's not easy to talk about your STI status, and you probably aren't going to ace the conversation right from the start.⁠

#5 Provide tools to help the other person process the information. Share one or two resources offering facts on symptoms, tests, and treatments, and one or two that address the emotional aspects of living with an STI.⁠

#6 You don't owe the other person any information you don't feel comfortable giving, including, but not limited to how you contracted it or how many partners you've had.⁠

#7 Allow the individual space to digest without having to make a decision immediately, but whatever they decide, don't take it personally.⁠

pjquinn7637 karma

Besides location, is there a difference between genital herpes and cold sore herpes? Can one lead to the other?

thestiproject72 karma

Oral herpes can be transmitted to the genitals and vice versa. However, if you already have oral herpes, that doesn't mean it's going to travel to your genitals, and in fact, that doesn't happen unless you auto-inoculate (because genital herpes lies dormant below the waste and stays below the waist, and oral herpes lies dormant above the waist and stays above the waist), meaning you touch a cold sore on your lip and then immediately touch your genitals. Some people get both oral and genital herpes, but usually that's a result of contracting herpes from two separate instances, not by transmitting it to yourself. There are two TYPES of herpes - herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2, and they can both be in both locations. Herpes simplex 1 was historically thought of as oral herpes and herpes simplex 2 as genital herpes, but now we know they can be in both locations (they just prefer one location over the other).

Bravetrail35 karma

I've always wondered why they say to disclose genital herpes to a partner but not oral herpes. Don't they both lie dormant? If you don't tell someone about oral herpes then why bother about genital if chances are low to nothing when you don't have symptoms.

thestiproject103 karma

Fully informed consent would mean disclosing an oral or a genital infection. I'm of the mindset that everyone deserves to make fully informed decisions about risk and their bodies, which means disclosing an infection in either location.

GenJohnONeill30 karma

Approximately 2/3 of people worldwide have HSV-1, which is typically oral herpes. In the U.S. estimates range from half of adults to 80% of adults. So while disclosure might be a gold standard even in this case, it's actually more common to have it than not.

Disclosure is promoted basically because of the stigma it brings. If you give it to a partner they will be exposed to that stigma whether they like it or not. Oral herpes doesn't have the same stigma so it's generally not a big deal to disclose it. Not saying you shouldn't disclose it, but the lack of stigma is why people would think you're being weird to do so.

thestiproject29 karma

I am going to have to respectfully disagree here a bit. Oral herpes is commonly transmitted to the genitals through oral sex, and those who contract it that way say over and over again how they wished they would have known and they wished their partner(s) would have told them that they got cold sores (oral herpes). That disclosure helps people to feel empowered about the decisions they are making with their bodies, and it also assures they are not blindsided when/if a diagnosis happens.

I get that it's not the social norm, but just because it's not the social norm doesn't mean it's not the most ethical approach.

Stigma shouldn't dictate behavior, because stigma is illogical, emotionally driven, highly subjective, and meant to ostracize.

People think the conversation is weird if you ask if they've been tested, too, but that doesn't mean it's not a good idea. They think it's weird, because those conversations aren't modeled for us, human sexuality and sexual health isn't talked about practically and comfortably, and we are largely uneducated about our relevant risks. In this instance, and in so many unrelated others, weird = good.

StoicObjectivity36 karma

First off, thanks for what you’re doing. I think it’s really important. Secondly, I have a two part question. #1: In your experience, do you know how HSV affects and/or reacts to other conditions, specifically HPV? #2 What are your thoughts around the stigma surrounding HSV over HPV.

thestiproject41 karma

#1 It's thought that having HSV predisposes you to HPV. Also, if your immune system is combating one infection, it could take longer to combat another, but everyone's immune system is different. Some interesting research on this!

#2 the stigma is quite different between the two infections, and that's both frustrating and confusing, because both are viral infections (one is longer-term and the other is forever), and depending upon the type and strain, the impact the infection has on a person physically can be vastly different from person to person. Psychologically, HPV is far less stigmatized. Ultimately, I think all stigma is trash, but I also understand why it persists. STI stigma goes back thousands of years.

triharder6430 karma

What should someone do who was just diagnosed. Where do I start?

thestiproject59 karma

I think the first place to start is in getting as informed as possible - both about the infection and about stigma. Learning as much as you can about symptoms, transmission, testing, and management will help you feel more empowered about your choices and the more clinical aspects of having an STI. From there, finding advocates and resources that speak to the overblown stigma that's associated with STIs will help you to get out of your head and to feel less isolated. Even though the stigma is INTENSE, it's not an accurate depiction of what it's really like to live with an STI. Once you move forward from the stigma, it becomes a very small part of your life and your experience (for most people), but for a while, the stigma can feel debilitating and it can make you question everything you believed to be true about yourself (that questioning is part of the stigma and not reality)! :)

triharder6418 karma

Thanks. It;s a little overwhelming at the moment. If I take one bold step forward to not feel so alone...what would that be?

thestiproject21 karma

Find a community! Find an advocate, a resource, a support group, a therapist (lol, but really), an educator - whatever avenue is most authentic for you! Whatever you do, don't isolate and stop living. It's easy to get stuck in our heads and to assume the worst case scenario, but the worst case scenario almost NEVER happens! We are own worst enemies when it comes to figuring out how to move forward from what often feels like a very traumatic diagnosis.

starspangledbastard27 karma

I am type 1 positive and have gotten cold sores regularly since childhood. By mistake and lack of education I gave my partner of many years type one in genitals. They only had 2 outbreaks and hasn't seem to come back for over 2 years. Am I at less risk for contracting the same virus in my genital region?

thestiproject29 karma

This happens all the time, so please don't beat yourself up about it (although I know that's easier said than done)!

Yes, you are less likely to contract HSV1 genitally because you have it orally. It can happen, but it's less likely, because you have antibodies established. You are also less likely to contract HSV2 genitally. It's still possible, but it's less likely once you have one type.

thestiproject22 karma

Hey ya'll, I’m signing off for now, but thank you so much for all of your questions! I’ll be doing a Facebook Live tomorrow at 8.30PM EST where I'll be discussing genital herpes with Dr Shepherd, Jaya Jaya Maya, and Alexandra Harbushka. However, I'll be checking back earlier in the day to answer any questions I've missed, so please keep them coming! Follow this Facebook page to tune in to tomorrow's LIVE event!

Drunk_Skunk122 karma

Hey Janelle, thanks so much for doing this. I appreciate you.

So my question is about the use of Valacyclovir for GH. Note: you may not be able to answer this do to medical laws. My doctor told me to take the medication when I feel an outbreak coming. But I have had other friends who never get outbreaks say they take it non-stop. Are both methods legit?

Also, if I am in a situation where I may be sexually active, should I take the medication as a preventative?

thestiproject25 karma

You're so very welcome! :)

So, taking an anti-viral daily is called suppressive therapy - it can reduce the number of outbreaks you have, their severity, and their duration, and it can also reduce the risk of transmission to a partner (cuts the risk in half).

Taking an anti-viral when someone feels an outbreak coming on or when they have an outbreak is called reactive therapy - it can reduce the severity and the duration of outbreaks.

Suppressive therapy can be a choice and it can also be suggested by providers for those who have regular outbreaks or for those who wish to reduce risk to a partner. Reactive therapy can be a choice and it can also be prescribed for people who have fewer outbreaks.

I can't tell you what you "should" do with your prescription medication, but I can certainly encourage you to talk to your provider about which option would be best for you depending on your management goals.

Fun fact: there's a new product that can be taken in conjunction with your prescription that can also help reduce the severity and the duration of outbreaks as well - it's sold at CVS and on Amazon.

sarahwalksalright21 karma

What made you decide to pursue a career as a sex educator?

thestiproject43 karma

It's funny, because I was all over the place insofar as careers were concerned. Way back when, I thought I'd be in musical theater, then I took some classes and a summer job in natural resource management (both of those things remain hobbies), but ultimately, it was my personal experience with herpes that lead me to become a sexual health educator. After realizing the vast disconnect between what people think living with herpes is like and what it's actually like, I knew I wanted to do something about it help people through education and advocacy!

sushipusha18 karma

With an intro like that you must be popular at parties. My question is, can they develop into Shingles?

thestiproject33 karma

I just realized I didn't answer your question! :) Herpes simplex cannot develop into shingles. Chickenpox - a member of the family of human herpes viruses - can develop into shingles, but herpes simplex type 1 and herpes simplex type 2 do not turn into shingles.

thestiproject18 karma

lol - touche! You might be surprised to read that I AM popular at parties! I can't tell you how many personal conversations I've had in bars, in Staples, in the Pet Store, and, of course at parties, after people learn about what I do for a living. Literally everyone has something that they feel shame around, and almost everyone has a question about human sexuality - I am not an expert in all things human sexuality (I focus on the STI niche), but that doesn't stop people from asking me whatever is on their mind: "how do I try butt sex for the first time?" (go slow, lots of lube, wait until you are fully aroused and only try it if you feel very safe and comfortable, lots of communication), "what should I do about my sex addiction?" (there's no such thing, but maybe there's some things about your behavior that's worrying you, and we can talk about that), "I'm unable to last more than a few seconds with a partner..." (try masturbating and stop before you climax, then start again, and keep doing that to learn how your body responds and to be able to identify when you might want to slow down and refocus to allow for more time) and so on. I've heard it all, and my husband usually has to steal me away from some in-depth conversation in order to head home!

kearlysue15 karma

I was told by my dr I have herpes but I have never had an outbreak. Do you think I will someday?

thestiproject18 karma

There's no way to know for sure! The herpes virus is different for everyone. Some people have an outbreak years later, some never have an outbreak, others (like myself) have regular outbreaks!

beaverpelted14 karma

Are there different kinds of herpes? Are some worse than others? Are there varieties that can be cured?

thestiproject39 karma

There are 8 different types of herpes viruses in the human herpes viruses family (9 if you count 6a and 6b), but the types most recognized as "herpes" is herpes simplex type 1 and herpes simplex type 2. Herpes simplex type 1 was traditionally thought of as oral herpes (but we now know that it is commonly transmitted to the genitals through oral sex), and herpes simplex type 2 was traditionally thought of as genital herpes (but it, too, can be transmitted to other locations, although that happens less often). In the human herpes virus family are things like chickenpox, shingles, epstein-barr virus (mono), and others! None of them are necessarily worse than another, because they impact everyone differently. Insofar as herpes simplex 1 and 2 are concerned, there is no cure.

[deleted]12 karma

[deleted]

thestiproject55 karma

There's some progress being made and a lot of researchers who are working on herpes - there are a few vaccines in clinical trials right now (vaccines for those who don't have it), but herpes is a particularly stubborn virus to isolate and kill because of how it lies dormant in the system.

pjquinn7611 karma

How often does this become an issue for people who have it?

thestiproject38 karma

I'm guessing you mean how often is herpes an issue (as in, symptoms) for people who have it? If so, great question! Everyone's different. Some people get outbreaks regularly, and others only have one or two outbreaks their whole lives. Sometimes it depends on the types you have, the location, your immune system, and whether or not you have any outbreak triggers.

StartingOver2266 karma

I recently acquired HSV2 (March 2020). I've also had the chicken pox three times (infant, elementary school, and in my 20s). Would me getting chicken pox so many times leave me at a higher risk of getting HSV?

thestiproject5 karma

Not really. They're in the same family of viruses, but they are separate viruses, so your risk of contracting one is mostly unrelated to contracting another! If you had chickenpox at the same time that you contracted HSV2, then the chickenpox could have put you at a higher risk as a result of a weakened immune system, but otherwise they would be viewed as unrelated infections.

Das_Gruber5 karma

How do you feel about the expression, "Herpes Herpes Bo Burpees"?

thestiproject16 karma

um, banana fanna fo ferpes, me mi mo murpees! HERPES!

Free_Hat_McCullough5 karma

Have you ever been rejected by someone you were dating because you have herpes?

Mozerelly23 karma

I once told a guy I had it and said he could go away and think about it before sleeping with me, no pressure either way...he came round a few nights later, got into bed with me, we got naked, were kissing etc etc and then he just stopped and said 'actually, I don't want to have sex with you the risk of social stigma is just too much for me to deal with'. He waited till I was very naked and vulnerable to tell me. I can't really explain how crushing that was. I've had another guy tell me straight up I wasn't worth the risk which is fair enough. I wish I'd been given the option to choose but not everyone is honest about their diagnosis. Fortunately, my current partner thought he had it for years (he didn't!) so he knows how hard it is emotionally to deal with and has been very understanding and doesn't care at all about my diagnosis nowadays :)

Thanks so much for doing this AMA Jenelle, I have enjoyed reading your responses. Sorry I hijacked this comment I just wanted to share my rejection story!

cookwarestoned8 karma

Was your partner able to confirm through a STI test that he didn't have it? What made him think he had it in the first place?

undeadgorgeous4 karma

Not OP but: If he had shingles at a young-ish age it could have been misdiagnosed as herpes. I had to literally beg to get tested for shingles instead of just running an STI panel and they STILL sent me home with herpes medication and told me to start it ASAP. Results came in, no STIs (I wasn’t even sexually active yet...) but shingles in a teenager.

thestiproject4 karma

It's important to note here that herpes is not included in STI panels, so that might be where the discrepancy lies! Also, you can have herpes and shingles, so it's hard to know for sure without a blood test that confirms and denies the presence of herpes simplex. Lastly, shingles is treated with the same medication that treats herpes simplex (anti-virals)! #themoreyouknow

thestiproject19 karma

I haven't had that experience, surprisingly, but I know other people have, so the outcome is not always positive for everyone. Rejections just plain suck. I've been rejected for others things, but herpes was never one of them.

GizmoVader4 karma

  1. Why is there no cure for herpes. Do you think we will see one in the near future?
  2. Can you get herpes just from oral? I’ve heard a lot that you can’t.

thestiproject27 karma

Herpes is tricky to nail down because of how it lies dormant or hibernates in the body. I don't think we'll see a cure in the near future even though there are a lot of researchers working on herpes right now. I could be wrong.

Yes, you can definitely get herpes from oral sex - it happens all the time! Whoever says that you cannot get herpes from oral sex is simply uninformed (most people are)! :)

jenthing3 karma

What does a herpes outbreak look and feel like for you? I sometimes get painful cysts on my vulva that I know are not herpes (I've been tested), but they always give me anxiety anyway!

thestiproject10 karma

A herpes outbreak looks and feels different for everyone. I get more "traditional" outbreaks (think a small cluster of blisters that are a little itchy and a little bit uncomfortable), but everyone's outbreaks are different. However, if you are experiencing any kind of symptoms that are atypical for you, it's a good idea to see a practitioner, because everything is easier to diagnose while symptoms are present!

HappyHound-14 karma

Why?

thestiproject5 karma

Why not?

fruitdemer-24 karma

Seems like there are more and more STI vaccines being offered and pushed on us these days. I'm not an anti-vaccine person, but I don't think it's wise to get unnecessary ones (too many weird and dangerous ingredients in almost every vaccine). How do you feel about vaccines for sti's? Is safe sex not safe enough?

thestiproject12 karma

Unfortunately, there's no such thing as "safe" sex - all partnered activities contain some level of risk. Some things can be made "safer," but if you're engaging in partnered sexual activities, you're always assuming a certain level of risk.

There are only a couple of vaccines for STIs, presently - hepatitis B and HPV - both are incredibly safe and recommended by the American College of Obstetrics, the CDC, etc, etc. Personally, I will be getting those vaccines for my children, but I respect those who want to do the research before making that decision. The assumption a lot of times is, "that won't happen to me or that won't happen to my child," but especially where HPV is concerned, odds are it will happen (over 80% of all people contract HPV at some point), and since it's the leading cause of cervical cancer (as well as well as one of the causes of penile and throat cancer), I'm a supporter. IMHO