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Diagnosis Glitter

communisticcentaur Asked:
Okay but you must admit that there's an enormous difference between a cold sore and an std. While they are both a form of the herpes virus, there's a difference. Don'tcha think?

My answer:

There is a difference! One is on your face, and the other comes with a massively bad reputation because our culture is terrified of sex and any of its potential consequences aside from babies born to married couples who make enough money that they never have to ask for help. The difference is the stigma that comes with genital herpes, or any STD, and that stigma is far more harmful to the people diagnosed with HSV than is the condition itself. The CDC doesn’t recommend regular screening for HSV in sexually active persons unless they have symptoms, because knowing you have it can cause adverse psychological effects that are more harmful than having it and being oblivious to it, even thought that ignorance means the person in question may unknowingly expose other people.

Nobody differentiated between oral and genital herpes until the 1960’s. The stigma surrounding genital herpes was manufactured by major pharmaceutical companies in the 1970’s and 1980’s, because nobody was buying their anti-viral medications. They had to make the condition shameful before people would buy products to deal with it, the same way they made it shameful people to sweat or smell like they do (so they’d buy antiperspirant) or have body hair (so they’d buy razors). It’s also worth noting that one person’s oral herpes can be spread to another person’s genitals through oral sex, so all your friend really needs to do to give somebody this enormously different condition is go down on them.

Short answer: the enormous difference comes from insisting that there is one.

The lovely alice-in-wndrlnd brought this website to my attention. (Thank you!)

I’ve overlooked it in the past because right at the top is a plug for products the website is selling, and I tend to avoid websites like that because they often try to scare you into buying stuff from them — but this article is thorough, and it provides good information. And: “While HSV can be a frustrating and painful condition for some people, in general the virus is less a medical problem than a social problem. For most of us, genital herpes is no more dangerous than a cold sore.

Anyhoo, if you’re confused about the differences between HSV1 and HSV2, or just want to read more about them, check ‘er out!

Anonymous Asked:
Hi, I saw your post "Related, I know a couple that both ended up with HSV1 genitally, because one of them had it orally, " is that because one didn't have hsv at all, the one who DID gave them oral, contracted hsv 1. Then had genital-genital contact ? I'm trying to understand bc my husband and I both have hsv 1 orally (couple years now) and don't know whether to participate in oral anymore. So i wanna know if either of us can get it below.

My answer:

Iiiiiii actually don’t know. Will ask her & update.


Her reply is: “so, yeah, best guess is that it was oral sex passed to one of us, then genital sex passed it to the other. to be fair, we had a lot of rough unprotected sex early on in the relationship because i was on birth control and both of us had been “tested” (note, standard tests do not actually always include an HSV check) and were pronouncedclean within six months of us hooking up. but, as we know, you can have very safe sex and pass it too, so take the information for what it’s worth i guess? neither of us had visible oral sores at the time the whole thing blew up. i had been diagnosed with HSV1 as a kid; he had an ex-girlfriend who had periodic cold sores and gave him blowjobs, so who knows who gave what to whom.

One of them caught HSV1 below the belt, and passed it to the other below the belt, and the best they can figure is that the first person caught it from oral sex. Ultimately, she had HSV1 orally as a child and contracted it genitally later in life, so IT IS POSSIBLE to do so.

With that in mind, consider a few things.
1) Anywhere between 50-80% of the adult population has oral herpes, whether they know it or not. And yet, genital herpes hovers in the 20-25% range. Oral sex CAN pass HSV to the genitals, but clearly this is not affecting the population at the same rate that they are receiving oral sex.

2) Most oral herpes is HSV1, because HSV1 *prefers* to be in your mouth. Most genital herpes is HSV2, because HSV2 *prefers* to be in your pants. Usually, if you’ve had a strain of HSV in one part of your body long enough to build antibodies, you’re much less likely to catch it elsewhere. Usually, when someone catches HSV1 genitally, they have significantly fewer and milder outbreaks — sometimes only one, sometimes none at all. Not always, but usually.

3) If you’re not willing to take those risks, which is a personal choice that only you and your husband can make, that’s perfectly fine. But if you still want to give and receive oral sex, there are things you can do to make it safer, even if it will never be completely risk free.
-Avoid oral when either of you has a cold sore, or thinks you might be getting one, and a few days after.
-Condoms, dental dams, latex gloves, or your barrier method of choice can help prevent transmission.
-Keep your health up and your immune system strong to prevent outbreaks and lessen the chance of spreading the virus. Stay rested, practice stress relief and self care. L-lysine pills, available at your local pharmacy in the vitamin isle, will help keep the virus at bay. Avoid foods high in arginine, and avoid the sun, or wear sunscreen.

Personally, I don’t think that having herpes is worse than a life without oral sex. Boyfriend and I continue to give and receive it despite the chance that one of us could catch it orally, because we enjoy it and have decided that we’re both ok taking that risk. What you do is, of course, up to you.



Yale’s making some headway on an HSV2 vaccine.

Normally, vaccines provide protection by introducing a weakened version of a pathogen. The body’s B cells, a type of white blood cell, then produce antibodies targeting the invader, which prepares the immune system to respond…

Cool, so everyone who gets this vaccine if it comes out is going to get tested and go OMG I DIDNT KNOW I HAD HSV2 ALREADY and since a quarter of the population has it, it will be treated with less stigma. Or at least I hope. I dont want vaccines like this which are supposed to be for the greater good to stigmatize those who already have to versus those who “are vaccinated” because you can still get things with vaccinations.

Also, it wont be considered part of the mandatory vaccines that you need  for example like meningitis or polio which you need to have in order to be in any public or private school system. So it wont be really that readily available and cost you at least a hundred or two dollars without health insurance if your lucky and live in the United States.

It’s going to run into the same challenges as the HPV vaccine, where parents go, “Oh, but MY precious child won’t need this! They won’t have sex/be exposed/date people who have herpes.” Also, it seems type-specific, which doesn’t address catching HSV1 genitally.

Yesterday I woke up with what felt like a pimple starting on the edge of my lower lip. A little puffy, sensitive pressed, almost like a bruise. Maybe a bit like a fat lip, if someone punches your lip into your tooth, but on the outside, and if it only hit one tooth. Doesn’t look like much in the mirror, but it’s red. Looks kinda like the angry red of a herpes rash. I’ve been taking valacyclovir just in case. It’s still there, but it hasn’t gotten any worse. I showed it to Boyfriend last night, and he said it didn’t look like a pimple. I didn’t tell him that I thought it might be oral herpes. I want to research it a bit and see if the symptoms sound right before I worry about it too much.

It’s definitely possible to spread herpes mouth-to-junk or junk-to-mouth, and that’s a risk he and I take. We engage in oral sex without barrier protection, because fuck it, I’m just not going to do that for the rest of my life. Not interested. I’d rather take the risk. He feels the same way. (That doesn’t mean you should necessarily feel the same way or do the same thing.)


Continuing from the post created yesterday, see photos of day two at the jump. You can see how quickly the bumps begin to blister. More details on symptoms are also included. 

Read More

And here’s Day 2 of her outbreak. Those little blisters look so familiar. (Refer to the Day 1 pics to see the size of the area as compared to her fingers.)



Getting closer! *crosses fingers*


According to the lead scientist at Harvard, Dr. Judy Lieberman, the siRNA “could either be administered to a person already infected to reduce viral shedding, pain, and transmission to a sexual partner, or it could be administered to those who are not infected to protect them.” However, before using the microbicide on humans, tests will first need to be done on monkeys.

Not sure I’d call that a cure, but rock on, scientists.

I’m going to answer this one publicly, because I think it’s interesting for everybody.

It was a bit tricky to find reliable information on the topic. According to this source, “very detailed” studies on sunlight as a trigger have focused on HSV1/oral herpes infections. (Keep in mind that while HSV1 is more commonly an oral infection that is not always the case.)

In these studies, 70% of the subjects exposed to about two hours of midday sun developed herpes symptoms within a week. Subjects who used sunscreen were protected.

A second source,, again mentions the sun’s UV rays as a trigger for oral/HSV1 sores.

For years, the medical community has known that with HSV 1, one of the most common triggers is the sun. It is often overexposure that triggers herpes, and not simply short-term sun exposure. A study done by the National Institutes of Health and reported in the December 1991 issue of “Lancet,” shows that exposure to UV rays will activate the herpes virus, but that if one applies sunscreen before UV exposure, it can prevent the herpes outbreak. Exactly how and why the sun triggers a herpes outbreak is not known, but if you are susceptible to outbreaks, be sure to wear sunscreen when you will be exposed to sunlight.

Yet another source offers some ideas as to why this might be the case, but is again focused on oral herpes.

One reason that flare-ups may develop after sun exposure is that ultraviolet light from the sun can hinder certain immune cells.

In addition to triggering flare-ups, sun exposure may make the sores of a herpes infection more irritated. Many doctors recommend that people avoid direct or excessive sun exposure during herpes outbreaks.

Herpes outbreaks that are triggered or worsen after sun exposure are examples of “photosensitivity.” A photosensitive person is prone to problems after sun exposure. Symptoms might include rash (or worsening of an existing rash), fever, fatigue or other problems.

This one mentions sun as a possible trigger, but does not comment on which strains or locations it might affect.

And finally, WebMD sums up what the rest of the articles seem to imply.

The common cold and sunlight seem to trigger outbreaks of oral herpes (cold sores), but no proof exists that they trigger genital herpes outbreaks.

So what’s going on here? We have a bunch of studies on sunlight as a trigger for oral herpes, but it looks like nobody’s ever really bothered to study sunlight as a trigger for genital herpes. This could be because people’s faces are generally not in their pants, and thus more likely to be exposed to and irritated by the sun.

Without better information (and if you find any, please send it along!), I would say this:

  1. Sunlight will probably irritate an existing genital outbreak.
  2. If you’re going to sit out in the sun, it is always a good idea to use sunscreen to protect yourself against skin cancer.
  3. While we don’t know if sunlight triggers genital herpes, we don’t know that it doesn’t.
  4. Sunscreen can protect oral herpes infections from sun irritation. Chances are it will similarly protect skin in the genital area from damage and irritation.
  5. If you wear a bathing suit that covers your genital area, that may help. But remember that herpes outbreaks sometimes show up on the buttocks or inner thigh. The fellas may be ok in their trunks, but the folks wearing Speedos and bikinis may still be at risk.


If you really want a tan, a spray tan is probably a good option. Tanning beds emit both UVA and UVB rays, just as the sun does. That means they’ll definitely increase your risk of skin cancer, and probably have the same affect on your herpes as the sun would.

A: I don’t know.  Just in case, and for so many reasons, WEAR SUNSCREEN.

It went well! The doctor, and the lady who works in the office with her (not sure of her title/qualifications) are both super nice, which is why I still go there. The assistant lady took my blood pressure, then asked about my symptoms, and was the one to ask about any changes in my medical history. “Oh, I have herpes now.” She looked over and asked, “Do you mean orally?” “Nope, down—” and I gestured enthusiastically with both index fingers. Right here, muthafuckas! She muttered something about not remembering which strain that was, and I assured her that it was HSV2, and that I’d been type-tested. (Though, it surprised me a bit that the doc’s assistant maybe didn’t know that the two strains can both infect both places, even if it’s less common.)

The doc came in and read over the assistant’s notes, confirming it all with me, including the bit about the herpes. “New?” she asked, looking me in the eye. “December,” I confirmed, without flinching. “So, new?” “Yep.” I guess if I’d had more to say about it, or if my face or mannerisms had, that would have been the moment. She asked if I’d seen someone about it and had it treated, or if it had gone away. I told her the GYNO had me on generic Valtrex, but only for outbreaks as opposed to daily, and that I’ve gone close to a month without any outbreaks. (I noticed that she made notes about it being “vaginal herpes” as opposed to the strain.) She was satisfied, and we move on to other things.

I walked out of there with two realigned SI joints, scripts for two allergy nasal sprays (no antibiotics!), and coupon to make the cost of one of the drugs more bearable.

I love my doctor.




We both thought we were STD free, because we thought our most recent testing meant we were in the clear. (Turns out that when you say, “Hey doc, test me for everything,” that generally doesn’t actually include testing for herpes.) We’ve always used condoms. He didn’t have any symptoms in the time frame when he most likely passed it to me.  Sometimes you do everything right, and it’s just not enough.


I find it so weird that doctors don’t test for specific STDs/STIs and that they won’t even tell you. This should definitely be made common knowledge.

I was baffled. Every year at my annual exam with my gyno, I ask them to test me for everything. Every year I’ve been told everything came back negative. It took a lot of self control not to lose my cool and go off on her about why they never told me I wasn’t tested for herpes.

The difference with herpes is that it’s more difficult to test for, and I suspect more expensive as well. My gyno does a swab for bacteria (syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia) and sends it off to a lab. When I went to her during my primary outbreak, she had to actually leave the exam room to retrieve another, special kind of swab — which she rubbed all over my sores, and let me tell you, fuckity ouch — and stressed to me that it was going to a viral lab. Contact swabs are done during an active breakout, and from what I understand they’re done on pregnant women right before they deliver to determine if a C-section is necessary. Otherwise, the likelihood that the virus is present on the skin, and that the test will be worth the time and money to do it, is pretty low.

The only other way to test for the herpes virus — and for other viruses as well, like HIV — is to take a blood sample and see if the person has developed antibodies for it. A positive test result means that the person definitely has the virus, but does not indicate the part of the body infected (mouth, genitals, other). A negative test result means only that no antibodies were detected, which could mean that the person does have the virus, but the infection is too new for them to have built a measurable defense to it.

My gyno’s office isn’t equipped to take blood samples for testing. When we were looking for a place for my boyfriend to be tested, I encouraged him to go to the free clinic at the hospital, because when I went there as a college student they took my blood for an HIV test. I don’t remember them testing it for herpes, but I suspected they might have the resources to do so if specifically asked. Generally if you want the test done, you can call your family doc and have them refer you to a blood lab.

A blog about living with herpes, the glitter of the STD world.

You can talk to me. I don't mind.

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