Facts About Herpes

To dispel confusion about oral and genital variations of the virus, Dr. Tom Ferguson discussed the facts about herpes in this installment of his regular column.
By Dr. Tom Ferguson
March/April 1981
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The general public had a poor understanding of the facts about herpes in the early 1980s.
ILLUSTRATION: FOTOLIA/JSCREATIONZS
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Genital herpes isn't the sort of subject that we usually cover in MOTHER EARTH NEWS. However, since there has been a good bit of seemingly misleading information about this illness in the media lately—and because so much of that information has been of a "scare story" nature—we felt that our readers deserved the facts about herpes and an opportunity to read a matter-of-fact discussion of the "new" disease that has affected the lives of a great many North Americans.  


An Epidemic of Ignorance

It's estimated that some 20 million Americans now have sexually transmitted herpes, a disease that's been called "the heartbreaker" largely because health workers often say (incorrectly!) that it is incurable. The fact is, however, that the body itself can cure this infection, and that people who help their bodies deal with it suffer less frequent and less severe attacks.

Herpes is caused by either of two closely related viruses: the herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2). Both the HSV's are "contact viruses": that is, they're spread from person to person by direct skin-to-skin contact... usually kissing (in the case of the familiar oral, or labial, herpes that's usually called a cold sore) or sexual contact (in the case of genital herpes). In fact, the only difference between cold sores and genital herpes is in the location of the infection!

Genital herpes sores are painful reddish blisters that erupt on the penis, on the vaginal lips, or inside the vagina. They last from one to several weeks, then disappear.

Many "experts" call herpes incurable because there is—at present—no drug capable of destroying the virus and no vaccine able to confer immunity. The same facts are true, of course, of the common cold ... and the body deals with a herpes infection in the same way it copes with a cold: It mobilizes the immune system to cure it.

Furthermore, in the immune-system/herpes battle, the former is heavily favored. In fact, only about one-third of the people who acquire the virus ever experience the recurrent flare-ups commonly thought to be always associated with it.

When considered as a physical illness, herpes is actually a relatively minor ailment. What concerns most sufferers is not the discomfort of the sores, but rather the emotional distress of having an illness that can complicate lovemaking relationships.

However, the central truth about herpes is that those who experience such emotional upset, anxiety, and stress over the illness are much more likely to have a difficult time with it than are folks who remain calm. Adopting a positive attitude—a "wellness orientation"—seems the best way to break the psychological "grip" of herpes and help your body cure any attack that might occur.

Herpes is most likely to erupt—as are colds—at times when the body is fatigued, ill, or under stress. By incorporating a personal "stress management program" into his or her day—whether it consists of meditation, jogging, or what have you—the herpes sufferer can keep his or her resistance up and recurrences down.  

Prevent Transmission

It is believed that the use of condoms will prevent transmission of herpes when visible sores are present. However, the blisters are likely to be painful enough to make lovemaking uncomfortable. Furthermore, because there is a danger of transmitting the illness when sores are active, it's probably a good idea to refrain from intercourse during such times.

Some people with herpes may be infectious for a period before a recurring sore becomes visible, too. Many such men and women notice a slight tingling or itchy feeling a day or two prior to an out-break. This period of "warning" is called the "prodrome." It serves as a signal that a sore is soon to erupt, and is similar to the feeling many of us experience when we know that "a cold's coming on".

People who have had herpes should learn to recognize their prodromes. Once they can do so, they can not only prevent transmission, but can also use relaxation exercises—or soothing activities such as hot baths or naps—to attempt to reduce the severity of the coming attack.

Is There Hope for a Cure?

Lots of folks ask me whether there will ever be a drug or vaccine to control herpes, and—at this point—I can only answer "maybe." Last year, the Food and Drug Administration authorized testing of a substance called 2-deoxy-D-glucose, which apparently hinders the replication of the herpes virus. The experimental cancer cure, interferon, may also prove to be useful against herpes. At present, however, the FDA has not licensed any drugs for the treatment of the illness.

The Real Dangers

Herpes sores are sometimes confused with those of syphilis. Both appear as red blisters, and both clear themselves up after a (variable) period of time. Herpes blisters, however, are almost always painful, while those of syphilis, a much more dangerous disease, are generally painless. If you even think that a genital sore might be a symptom of syphilis, call your local health department or visit a doctor. It takes many years for the symptoms of advanced syphilis to appear, but when they do, they can be terribly serious.

Another real danger associated with herpes is its apparent link with cervical cancer. It is not yet known whether herpes can actually cause this cancer, but a correlation has been found between the two diseases. Cervical cancer is nearly 100% curable if detected early. Women with herpes should probably have two Pap tests a year, rather than the one test usually recommended.

Finally, it is true that a pregnant woman can— only if she's in her prodrome or has active sores at the time of delivery—transmit herpes to her child. Because of this, most doctors insist upon performing caesarean sections on mothers who are in a contagious stage.

Herpes Info Resources

HELP, a program of the American Social Health Association, provides personal support for people with herpes. Membership includes access to the private HELPLINE telephone service staffed by health educators and resource librarians, and to the local herpes support groups now meeting in many cities in the United States and Canada. HELP membership also includes a subscription to THE HELPER, a quarterly newsletter and the best resource for keeping up on the research, psychological, and public policy aspects of herpes.  


In 1976, Tom Ferguson—then a fourth-year medical student at Yale—launched a magazine called Medical Self-Care, which he hoped would serve as "a Whole Earth Catalog of the best medical books, tools, and resources."  

Tom spoke of his plans for the publication and of his conviction that self-care could raise the general level of health in this country and lower our inflated levels of medical spending in a MOTHER EARTH NEWS interview, and left no doubt that he would work toward making those "dreams"come true.

Well, Tom Ferguson is Doctor Ferguson now, and the medical self-care "movement" — as well as Tom's magazine — has flourished. People are beginning to assume more responsibility for their own well-being and are eager for information that will help them take better care of their bodies.

So in an effort to provide just such very necessary data, MOTHER EARTH NEWS offers this regular feature by Tom Ferguson, M.D.
   


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Post a comment below.

 

ROSE
5/26/2015 6:29:23 PM
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alexis
5/26/2015 5:50:36 PM
I found out that I had herpes when I was 16 just about to turn 17. Three months before that I gave birth to my oldest child and I was checked for everything and all tests came back negative. In September of that year I started messing around with a guy that was a friend of the family. On his 21st birthday he asked me to go camping with him and a bunch of friends, I said I'd go. We slept together that night and within three days after sleeping with him I had my first outbreak. My mom took me to my doctor and they confirmed my worst fear ever. I had herpes. That has been almost eleven years ago this year. Every time I have an outbreak I get so mad at the guy that gave it to me because he didn't tell me. He has since passed it to over 20 females and didn't tell them either. I have to watch how I manage my stress level and everything around me in my day to day life. so i thought i was going to die with it until i meet online with this herb doctor and a spell caster called doctor ebolo so i decided to give him a try, to my most happiness he help me and now i am whole again so i can keep quite because i know a lot of us also need this help so this is his contact ebolospelltemple@gmail.com or call him on +2349033455855

ROSE
5/26/2015 5:43:39 PM
Hello!! I’m indeed very happy for the great help that DR. IYAYI rendered to me, I am here to give my testimony about a doctor who helped me in my life. I and my husband was infected with HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS last 4 years ago, we went to many hospitals for cure but there was no solution, on till one faithful day , we saw a blog whereby DR. IYAYI cured a woman who also had herpes effection,we (Me and My Husband) decided to contact him which we did, he asked us to buy some items, unfailingly we sent him the money he will need in buying the items required , He casted the spell and asked us to go for check-up after three days of casting the spell, Luckily for us we were tested herpes negative, if you are going through the same problem and you need help you can contact the great Herbalist and a spell caster on greatiyayisolutiontemple@yahoo.com or you can call him via his mobile phone number on +2348110496031. You can also view my blogger testimony: http://jordanrose11.blogspot.com/

MabelJohnson
5/23/2015 9:13:36 PM
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SarahAnderson
5/19/2015 6:51:42 PM
I am here to give my testimony about Dr SUKU who helped me in my life, i want to inform the public how i was cured from (HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS) by Dr SUKU,i visited different hospital but they gave me list of drugs like Famvir, Zovirax, and Valtrex which is very expensive to treat the symptoms and never cured me. I was browsing through the Internet searching for remedy on HERPES and i saw comment of people talking about how Dr SUKU cured them. when i contacted him he gave me hope and send a Herbal medicine to me that i took and it seriously worked for me, am a free person now without problem, my HERPES result came out negative. I pray for you Dr.SUKU am cured you can also get your self cured my friends if you really need my doctor help, you can reach him now:greatsukusolutiontemple@hotmail.com or call his Mobil number:+234874839242 his email:greatsukusolutiontemple@gmail.com THANK YOU FOR YOU HELP TO CURE MY (HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS)AM SO GRATEFUL,I WILL ADVICE YOU FRIENDS HIS WILL HELP YOU TO SOLVE YOUR PROBLEM EMAIL:greatsukusolutiontemple@hotmail.com..

SarahAnderson
5/19/2015 6:50:32 PM
I am here to give my testimony about Dr SUKU who helped me in my life, i want to inform the public how i was cured from (HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS) by Dr SUKU,i visited different hospital but they gave me list of drugs like Famvir, Zovirax, and Valtrex which is very expensive to treat the symptoms and never cured me. I was browsing through the Internet searching for remedy on HERPES and i saw comment of people talking about how Dr SUKU cured them. when i contacted him he gave me hope and send a Herbal medicine to me that i took and it seriously worked for me, am a free person now without problem, my HERPES result came out negative. I pray for you Dr.SUKU am cured you can also get your self cured my friends if you really need my doctor help, you can reach him now:greatsukusolutiontemple@hotmail.com or call his Mobil number:+234874839242 his email:greatsukusolutiontemple@gmail.com THANK YOU FOR YOU HELP TO CURE MY (HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS)AM SO GRATEFUL,I WILL ADVICE YOU FRIENDS HIS WILL HELP YOU TO SOLVE YOUR PROBLEM EMAIL:greatsukusolutiontemple@hotmail.com

Mike Amos
1/10/2015 2:47:37 PM
Hello, i am Mike from Uk, All these post about HERBAL MEDICINE and spell casters are scammers and fake trying to collect money all in the name of Herpes cure and when you contact them, they will be asking for your name, pictures, country, phone number, occupation and when you have given them all the information, they will be asking for money. I was once suffering from HERPES and i spent a lot of money going from one herbal doctor to another but they all scam and take my money away until i came in contact with this powerful one called Dr. Osas who cured me from Herpes with his herbal medication, after doctor Osas has finished preparing the herbal medicine, he asked me to send him my residential address, so that he will send the herbal medicine to via D.H.L so i did. 2days later, i received the herbal medicine and i had to follow the instructions he gave to me on how i will apply it. 2weeks later i went to hospital for test and according to the test done by the Medical doctor Frank it stated that i was cured. So viewers be wise and beware of fake spell casters and fake herbal doctors, they are all over the internet trying to steal from poor people. I will drop you the email of this powerful herbal doctor just in case you wish to contact him for help. doctorosasherbalhome@gmail.com or you can call him through his mobile number +2349039537920.

Mike Amos
1/10/2015 2:45:06 PM
Hello, i am Mike from Uk, All these post about HERBAL MEDICINE and spell casters are scammers and fake trying to collect money all in the name of Herpes cure and when you contact them, they will be asking for your name, pictures, country, phone number, occupation and when you have given them all the information, they will be asking for money. I was once suffering from HERPES and i spent a lot of money going from one herbal doctor to another but they all scam and take my money away until i came in contact with this powerful one called Dr. Osas who cured me from Herpes with his herbal medication, after doctor Osas has finished preparing the herbal medicine, he asked me to send him my residential address, so that he will send the herbal medicine to via D.H.L so i did. 2days later, i received the herbal medicine and i had to follow the instructions he gave to me on how i will apply it. 2weeks later i went to hospital for test and according to the test done by the Medical doctor Frank it stated that i was cured. So viewers be wise and beware of fake spell casters and fake herbal doctors, they are all over the internet trying to steal from poor people. I will drop you the email of this powerful herbal doctor just in case you wish to contact him for help. doctorosasherbalhome@gmail.com or you can call him through his mobile number +2349039537920

Julia
8/19/2013 1:03:54 AM
According to a report from the official Herpes dating site localhsvdating.com: at least 45 million American adults and adolescents have genital herpes -- that's one out of every four to five people, making it one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Genital herpes is more common in women than in men. Are you one of them? Do not let herpes contrl your love life. Join us to find love and support.














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