Herpes Awareness Day 2023
It's herpes awareness day 2023! We often talk about herpes 101, herpes stigma, dealing with herpes outbreaks, dating with herpes and being pregnant with herpes!
Today, we're taking a different route and discussing some lesser-known facts about herpes. Here we go.
Herpes in animals
Herpesviruses can infect a wide range of animal species, both vertebrates and invertebrates. Here are some examples of animals known to be affected by herpesviruses: Chimpanzees and Gorillas; Horses; Cats; Dogs; Pigs; Cows; Elephants; Dolphins and Whales; Sea Turtles; Birds; Reptiles.
The severity of herpesviruses in animals can vary widely depending on the specific virus and the species it infects. Some herpesviruses in animals can cause mild, self-limiting infections, while others can lead to severe and even fatal diseases. Overall, while some herpesviruses in animals can lead to serious and even life-threatening conditions, many infections are mild or subclinical, meaning they don't cause noticeable symptoms. Additionally, some animals may develop immunity after initial exposure, which can help reduce the severity of future infections.
Historical treatment of herpes
Throughout history, cultures worldwide have devised treatments for herpes rooted in traditional medicine and available resources. Ancient Egyptians turned to a blend of honey, myrrh, and natural substances for topical relief. In Greece and Rome, herbal remedies recommended by luminaries like Hippocrates and Galen aimed to alleviate symptoms.
Traditional Chinese Medicine employed herbal mixtures, acupuncture, and dietary adjustments to bolster the body's natural healing processes. Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system, prescribed herbal formulations, dietary shifts, and lifestyle tweaks to address various health conditions, including skin disorders.
Topical applications featuring ingredients like honey, aloe vera, and plant extracts sought to soothe discomfort and expedite healing. In select historical cultures, dietary modifications and the avoidance of certain foods were believed to mitigate symptoms. While some relied on mineral and metal applications, caution is warranted due to potential toxicity.
Lastly, cauterization, involving controlled burning of the affected area, was an historical approach used in certain contexts. However, modern medicine now employs antiviral medications like acyclovir and valacyclovir as primary treatments for herpes outbreaks, based on rigorous scientific validation and evidence-based practices. It's imperative to consult a healthcare professional for the most effective and safe approaches to managing herpes today.
Origin of Herpes Stigma
The stigma surrounding herpes has deep historical roots, but it gained significant momentum in the 1970s and 1980s with the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Before this period, herpes was generally seen as a relatively common and manageable infection. However, the fear and misinformation surrounding HIV/AIDS led to increased anxiety and discrimination towards individuals with any sexually transmitted infection, including herpes.
The media played a significant role in perpetuating the stigma. Sensationalized reporting, combined with a lack of accurate information, contributed to the fear and misconceptions surrounding herpes. Additionally, the herpes virus was often portrayed as something dirty or shameful, further fueling the stigma.
This period also coincided with the development of antiviral medications for herpes, which, while revolutionary for treatment, inadvertently contributed to the stigma. The availability of medication led to the belief that herpes could and should be entirely controlled or eradicated, adding pressure to individuals who had the virus.
One of the most notable historical figures believed to have had herpes is Al Capone, the notorious American gangster during the Prohibition era. Capone was known to have suffered from recurring and severe cold sores, which are often caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). His medical records indicate a diagnosis of herpes, and his condition was said to have been so severe at times that it required medical attention.
It's worth noting that herpes is a common viral infection, and many people throughout history, including notable figures, have likely had the virus. However, due to its private and personal nature, it's not always well-documented or discussed in historical records. Al Capone's case is one of the few instances where herpes is explicitly mentioned in relation to a well-known figure from history.