My girlfriend recently disclosed to me that she has herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). This news was shocking, but I know it’s important for me to be supportive of her. To gain a better understanding of HSV-2, I did some research and what I found astounded me. It turns out that this common sexually transmitted infection (STI) affects more than 3.7 billion people worldwide.
What is HSV?
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a contagious STI caused by two different types of viruses—HSV-1 and HSV-2. While both types can cause sores around the mouth or genitals, they are spread differently. HSV-1 is usually spread through contact with infected saliva, while HSV-2 is typically spread through sexual contact.
The virus enters the body through small breaks in the skin or mucous membranes and then stays dormant until an outbreak occurs. Outbreaks can range from mild to severe and generally consist of red bumps or blisters filled with clear fluid that break open and crust over before healing.
Treating and Managing HSV-2
The good news is that there are effective treatments available for managing outbreaks, reducing pain, shortening healing time, and preventing transmission to a partner. Antiviral medications like acyclovir can reduce the severity of an outbreak by killing the virus before it has a chance to replicate itself and spread throughout the body.
There are also topical creams that can be used directly on affected areas to decrease itching or burning sensations during an outbreak. Additionally, practicing safe sex by using condoms is recommended to prevent transmission even if no symptoms are present because it’s still possible to pass on the virus without any visible symptoms.
Coping With Stigma Around An STI Diagnosis
Having an STI diagnosis comes with a lot of social baggage as well—the stigma associated with these conditions can be isolating and damaging for those who are infected. It’s important to remember that no one deserves judgment for something out of their control—by talking openly about the condition with your friends and family members, you can help break down the negative stereotypes surrounding STIs like HSV-2. Additionally, connecting with support groups online or in person may be helpful in dealing with feelings of shame or guilt associated with having an STI diagnosis.
At first learning about my girlfriend’s diagnosis was difficult for me but with knowledge comes power – power to understand and support her in every way possible! With a combination of antiviral medications, topical creams, and practicing safe sex we can work together towards managing her condition while continuing our relationship in a healthy way! It’s important for everyone who has been diagnosed with an STI to remember they aren’t alone – there are lots of resources available online as well as medical professionals who specialize in treating them so don’t hesitate to reach out for help!