April 23, 2021
How much do you know about herpes? It’s Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month, and we know people are not learning what they need to know about herpes. A recent survey done by Babylon Health, a health care organization that provides remote services, asked 1,000 Americans questions about various skin conditions, including herpes. The results showed that there are many misconceptions.
Oral and Genital Herpes Are Pretty Common
One surprising statistic: 41 percent of people surveyed believed that herpes is deadly. This is false. Herpes is not deadly, although it is more serious in infants who contract it during childbirth. Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus, either type one (HSV-1) or two (HSV-2). HSV-1 is commonly called oral herpes, but it can be spread to the genitals through oral sex and is therefore also a cause of genital herpes. More than one out of six people age 14 to 49 in the U.S. have genital herpes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And 47 percent of Americans reported having oral herpes, according to a 2015-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination questionnaire. So, both oral and genital herpes are actually pretty common. The survey also showed that a third of the respondents didn’t think that herpes is contagious, which it is. Also concerning is that one out of every ten people taking the survey indicated that they would not tell a sexual partner about their herpes diagnosis.
Sex Ed Encourages Testing and Communication With Partners
There is a lot of stigma around herpes and other STDs. Having comprehensive sex ed where you learn about STD tested as well as how and why to communicate with sexual partners is so important. This helpful information and can decrease stigma. And decreased stigma means people are more likely to get tested and to be open and honest with a partner when they do get an STD.