029: Are We In A Herpes Epidemic? With Alexandra Harbushka

Getting an STD test and learning the truth.


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Thanks for spending your time with me here on the Life With Herpes podcast! Today I’m asking the question: are we in a herpes epidemic? What exactly makes something an epidemic? I’ve been thinking about these questions and researching the answers, so join me to hear what I’ve found on episode 29 of Life With Herpes!


More About Life With Herpes

As I was thinking about whether or not we are in a herpes epidemic, I wondered what an epidemic is exactly. I looked up the definition and it is defined as a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. Its synonyms are outbreak, plague, pandemic, epizootic.


So are we in an epidemic? As you know from previous episodes, 2 out of 3 people today have oral herpes and 1 out of 6 have HSV-2. Does that qualify as an epidemic? I think so. I mean when you do the math it equates to 75-80% of the population having at least one form of herpes! That's a whole lot of people my friends, and that's a lot of people who are impacted by the herpes stigma.

I looked deeper into this to try to understand why herpes continues to grow. And I found an article on WebMD that says a survey of adults in 4 major American cities (New York City, Chicago, Atlanta and San Diego) shows many are still unaware of several important issues about genital herpes.

Tweetable:  “Take a stand for our health and our partner’s health.” - Alexandra Harbushka



Here are some interesting facts from the survey:


The first statistic I noted was that 72% correctly answered saying they understand herpes is an STD, which is great. But what’s not great is that out of these people 16% say they have been tested for it. Only 16%! Now we have a better understanding of why herpes is being passed on and being spread.

Second, this survey says 42% had never had an STD test. So that means close to 50% of the people out there - people you are sleeping with - have never had an STD test. Again that is why STDs continue to be spread. I think a lot of people are scared to get tested, and scared to get the results. There are also other factors like the time it'll take to go to the clinic and the money it'll cost. Just a note: Planned Parenthood offers free STD tests or will offer a sliding scale for the cost.


Here’s a third interesting fact from the survey: 1 out of 4 people asked about their partner's sexual history before engaging in sexual activity with them. So only 25% of people are finding out whether the person they are being intimate with has any diseases. I think it’s pretty clear now why herpes and other STDs continue to be spread: hardly anyone is getting tested and hardly anyone is talking about their sexual history! But this isn’t just about herpes, there are far, far worse STDS out there. Think about it: herpes is a skin disease but syphillis can drive you insane, HIV can kill you.


On today’s show you’ll also hear how many of the people surveyed know you can pass herpes without having any physical symptoms and you'll hear how passionate I am about taking a stand for your own health as well as your partner’s. Remember this virus and other STDs don’t care about how beautiful, handsome, rich or successful someone is - these diseases just want to survive.


Join me for more from this survey and let me know if you think we’re in a herpes epidemic after you tune into episode 29 of Life With Herpes.

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