Finding Strength and Support While Living with Herpes

Herpes is a virus that infects the buttocks, genitals, oral, or anal area and is caused by herpes simplex virus. The most common strain of genital herpes is HSV type 2 but HSV type 1 is becoming more prevalent as people are beginning to have sex at a younger age.

Symptoms include:

  • a cluster of fluid-filled blisters that form sores that are painful and eventually crust over
  • a rash or small bumps that look like pimples
  • painful urination
  • fever
  • or swollen lymph nodes in the groin area.

Herpes is often transmitted by direct contact and includes kissing, sexual contact, or touching skin that is infected with the virus. Genital herpes can be exchanged regardless of whether sores or other symptoms are present. Most people are infected and do not realize they were due to the lack of visible symptoms.

Living With the Herpes Virus

On a typical day, there are an estimated 50 million people dealing with the herpes simplex virus. This virus cannot be cured with antibiotics, no virus can. It is a recurrent condition that will disappear and reappear if your immune system becomes challenged to varied degrees.

Despite being infected, many people are still able to live fulfilling lives that include dating and sexual intercourse. Those who are infected with herpes may have to take extra precautions during intimate contact and should inform any sexual partners of their infection.

Those living with HSV also put others at risk of infection without even knowing they are a carrier. For instance, mothers who have herpes can unintentionally pass it on to a newborn through the birth canal which can potentially be fatal to the child.

HSV-2 also contributes to the spread of HIV by causing people to be more susceptible to this virus. Herpes will decrease the effectiveness of the immune system and can make it easier to spread and catch HIV.

Emotional and Physical Changes

HSV can remain dormant throughout its life cycle. However, a weak immune system can cause reoccurring ulcers that are both painful and debilitating. The most common symptom of an HSV infection is the mental distress that occurs when people are informed they have herpes.

Finding out that you have herpes can be a difficult situation for anyone to handle. You should be aware that you are not alone in this daily battle and there are resources to help get people through this rough time.

Dealing with Depression and Anxiety

Depression and social anxiety are two very common situations that occur when anyone finds out they are infected with herpes. However, there are plenty of ways to keep the mind from inducing more panic and negative thinking. It is best to seek some sort of support group that will help in dealing with this new issue. If group therapy is not the right choice, other means of support such as a counselor, pastor, or even a trusted family member may help resolve some internal issues and offer some closure.

Realize that genital herpes is quite common and there is a possibility that one of your friends, family members, or colleagues may have it as well. After initially finding out, it is imperative to understand that herpes will not cause death and does not result in more problematic health problems later.

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