The word “herpes” is sure to conjure at least some familiarity. Although few people have all of the facts regarding herpes, the virus itself is extremely common and the word is usually familiar to adults and teens. Despite its prevalence, there are numerous misconceptions about herpes, particularly with regard to how dangerous it is and how severe symptoms are.
Fortunately, there is a plethora of information ready and waiting for those wishing to learn more about the virus in all of its incarnations, including how it is transmitted, how it is treated, and how life with herpes looks like. Countless researchers have dived into the issue of herpes and its treatment options, and have come up with simple, straightforward answers.
4 Surprising, Yet Accurate Herpes Facts
1. Herpes Isn’t Dangerous… Alone
The herpes virus itself is not truly dangerous. Becoming infected with the virus does not signal a life filled with outbreaks, pain, and suffering. Instead, most herpes infections function more as a nuisance, as sores can erupt (on the mouth, skin, or genitals) in response to illness, stress, or hormonal fluctuations.
On its own, herpes is not dangerous. However, some researchers have suggested that having herpes increases the risk of contracting HIV and AIDS, both of which result in severe health consequences.
2. Most People Infected with Herpes Don’t Know
Herpes does not always culminate in large, painful sores. Sometimes, herpes is actually asymptomatic, and sores may never actually develop. Because of this, it is estimated that approximately 80% of people infected with the virus don’t know they are infected, and continue to pass it on to partners unknowingly. STI testing, then, should not be regarded as a nuisance, but a responsible, logical decision with regard to your health.
3. Herpes Doesn’t Have to Involve Sex
Herpes is not only transmitted through sexual contact. In truth, sexual contact is the most common method of transmission, but coming into contact with an infected person can also transmit the virus.
Herpes is a fragile virus, so transmission will not occur if you brush your arm against an infected person. Instead, the virus can be contracted if you come into contact with someone who has an open sore or is shedding the virus and you have a sore or wound on your skin. Handshakes, sharing toiletries, and sharing a home are not enough to guarantee transmission.
4. Herpes Does Not Impact Fertility
Unlike some STIs, herpes does not have a negative impact on fertility and virility. Again, although the virus can be extremely frustrating, it does not have a lasting, negative effect on your body’s ability to conceive and bear children, nor does it damage your sperm count.
Receiving a herpes diagnosis can be frightening, but the truth is that herpes is far from a death sentence. The virus can be controlled with changes to dietary and lifestyle habits, consistent use of protection, and medication.