I recently took an STD test. It takes about a week to see the results so I was left to my own neuroses and hypochondria. A lot of googling and Webmd happened in that time which now leaves me with an unhealthy amount of knowledge on the nature of STDs. I figured the best thing to do was publish an article about genital problems, because, why not? In case you’re wondering I’m free and clear.
The notion of the STD means different things depending on who you’re talking to, what kind of person you are, and what STD’s you’re speaking about.
Some people treat gonorrhea /chlamydia/syphilis like they’re strep throat: pop a couple pills don’t drink for a week, and everything’s all sunshine and unicorn farts. I know a guy who just kept antibiotics in his truck. His STD prone nature caused him to just cut out the middlemen and save himself a trip. For most of us g/c/s is worrying and embarrassing, but something that you don’t get extremely frazzled over. There is a stigma of dirtiness, but you can just keep quiet, hide in your room, watch 80’s teen comedies, and come out when your bits aren’t mashed.
HIV/AIDS is the big bad voodoo daddy. My generation missed the huge epidemic by a margin, but we were still affected. The paranoia that existed during the 80’s still persisted, leaving good and bad impacts. On one hand, we had PSA’s and more sexual education that kept us aware of safe sex, but inversely we had to remind everyone that people who had the afflictions were still normal people and not contagious zombies. I remember watching Nick News before middle school and seeing Magic Johnson talk to a room full of kids about AIDS. He had to tell them that touching a person didn’t spread it and that someone could still be your friend with the disease. The fact that this was necessary thing just shows how shitty things were after the scare. Now, the life expectancy for people with AIDS isn’t much lower than people without. The drug cocktails and sexual ostracizing aren’t great, but the virus is no longer a death sentence. Basically, AIDS is bad, but we need to stop treating it like the super virus in that movie Contagion.
Side Note: The above applies to the western world. Developing nations are still very uneducated in terms of the virus, which results in a pandemic and also severe and misinformed reactions of the public. The lack of drugs in these countries kind of really sucks and for a lot of those situations the term “death sentence” still applies. That being said Africa is always fucked, so let’s move on. (Thanks Europeans!!!)
Now for the articles namesake: dat herpes virus. Herpes is probably the most vocally stigmatized member of the STD clan. It’s the go-to gross out tactic when people in movies find faults with a potential girl/boy to love. Many a dating montage has included the one lad/lass who mentions herpes. This is always immediately met with a look of disgust. Having herpes is like getting a permanent intense body odor; sure people will date you, but it drastically limits the pool.
Now why the hell are we all about hatin’ on herp? The disease is completely non-fatal, sometimes never shows up, and can be treated, but it’s treated like a viral cock/slit block. One reason is genital things are icky; you’d be surprised how concerned people get when we start talking below the belt. I mean think about how much we worry about pubic hair, smell, or circumcision; throw some bumps and cuts into the mix and we start to lose all kinds of shit (coincidentally literally losing your shit is another great way to not get laid). Herpes permanence is what makes it scarier than the other non-fatals. When people hear “rest of your life” it’s not going to leave the mind. If herpes only caused bi-weekly runny noses or turned your pee rainbow colors people would still be super sketched. Although, from what I’ve been told outbreaks hurt like a bitch, but they’re manageable and in most cases either infrequent or non-existent.
Now pay some fucking attention because I’m about to either ease or completely reinforce your fears. If you are the average 20/30-something individual you have fucked someone with herpes. I know you’re all like “nuh uh” but you have. Some people scared of the stigma don’t say shit about having it. They’ll just give you the old mish-mash-splish-splash without warning, but the majority of people aren’t malicious, they just have no idea they even have herpes. Some studies put the percentage of undiagnosed/unaware people at around 80%, that means only 1 out of every ten people have the ability to tell you if they wanted to. 80% of what though? How many people could possibly have herpes? Well most estimates are around 1/5 of the population. That’s a lot of fucking people, which means a lot of people fucking. Those numbers could be lower or higher (I’m guessing higher) due to the whole not knowing thing. Oh, and remember getting a cold sore when you were a kid? That was HSV-1 which is still herpes, and can totally get up in your partners giggle bits, and yeah 50-80% of the population has or has had that one.
Now we’re all thinking back to the PSA’s again, we’re getting out the condoms and wrapping our shit up like a bb gun on Christmas. Don’t get too confident my latex clad friends Condoms only lower the chance of getting HSV-1 or 2 by 50%, the virus is all around the area, not just in the good parts. The Jimmy cap is in essence a bullet proof vest: sure it’ll stop a chest shot but you can still get hit in the head (and since I’m tempted by puns, I’ll add that where the load goes doesn’t matter either. Herpes is transmitted by cuts, bumps, and contact. The white whales don’t have shit to do with it. So you have or you will be at risk for herpes if you have sex and it’s not like the 99.9% risk of pregnancy or AIDs it’s more of a Russian roulette situation.
Now for the good news, if you watch the signs you too can be free and clear. The reason that number is still around 1/5 despite our rampant tom-fuckery is the way the virus transmits: most of the time an outbreak is necessary for transmission. If there are no signs of the virus, then you have a very good chance of avoidance. The problem is most people don’t know what an outbreak looks like. For some, the symptoms will be like that picture they show you in Sex Ed, all bumpy and whatnot, that’s pretty noticeable. The sneaky herps are the ones that barely show a sign, it could be a little pimple or something similar, and almost undetectable, or it could be just a feeling of fatigue and flu-like symptoms. It’s going to be pretty damn hard to spot sometimes and that’s something to keep in mind. Oh, and I almost forgot testing for it costs a bunch without insurance, and it’s a blood test, which means the oral HSV-1 that nobody cares about is indistinguishable from the genital one.
The moral of this story of sex and consequences is to chill the fuck out about herpes. Stop treating it like people should commit sexual hari-kari if they get it. HSV-1 and 2 are treatable, non-lethal, and pretty damn prevalent. A lot of those scornful people in rom-com’s that sat next to the guy/girl who responsibly tells them about their virus probably have it.
Unless you want to completely retire your fun and games parts, I suggest that you calm down, breathe, get tested, and watch for signs. Remember that you’ve probably already had a near herp experience and probably will again.
The only way to be 100% sure of your “safety” is a vow of celibacy, and that will make you no fun anyway. I’d rather chill with the herpes crowd than the sexually frustrated one.
Oh, almost forgot, just about everyone has HPV despite how hard Lena Dunham freaks out. 50% of the population, which if you get rid of the nuns, people who married their firsts, and hermits, is, like everyone. Most times it just chills for a bit then goes home like Jerry that dude who slept on your couch for a week. The HPV test for men involves scraping shit off your penis and such, so for most it’s just not worth it.
So happy hunting and enjoy the inevitable doom.