A person who gets cold sores is about to have oral sex with someone who has genital herpes.The person with cold sores feels no social pressure or duty to divulge the fact they carry HSV1, yet the person carrying HSV2 dies a thousand deaths if they are equally silent.
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The Sydney Morning Herald - National, World, Business, Entertainment, Sport and Technology News from Australia’s leading newspaper The Age - National, World, Business, Entertainment, Sport and Technology News from Melbourne’s leading newspaper au au - Business News, World News & Breaking News in Australia I have genital herpes.
In the pantheon of first date conversation-stoppers, this admission has to rank somewhere up there with "I just got out of jail for murder" and "So, are you a man or a woman? People will admit to almost every disease, virus or ailment known to humanity but herpes, though rarely fatal, invites a demise of another form. This is strange when you consider more than three-quarters of Australia's adult population carry at least one type of the virus, many of them unknowingly spreading the love to partners ...
"A 25-year-old woman is much more likely to have had oral sex than her fiftysomething mother." The prevalence of HSV1 has also led to a "weird double standard", says Donovan where we damn the carriers of the "bad" form of the virus (HSV2) when it's actually the "less bad" virus (HSV1) that's causing many of the problems.
Having confronted this issue, I can tell you the social etiquette of genital herpes is that HSV2 carriers like myself should always wear condoms during sex or "have the talk" beforehand to discuss the risks.
HSV1 carriers, however, apply no such standard to themselves.
To test this you need only to ask yourself when was the last time someone stopped you before a first kiss and said: "I think you should know, I have herpes." If that seems ludicrous, consider a scenario that plays out thousands of times every week in the bedrooms of Australia.
" It's just not something you hear uttered in polite company. In 2006, Australia's first nation-wide study of the prevalence of herpes in 11,000 adults, found 76 per cent tested positive for herpes simplex virus 1, the dreaded cause of cold sores on lips.
One in eight (12 per cent) carry the herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV2), which has traditionally been sited on sufferers' nether regions.
This is where the herpes story goes from simplex to complex - and hypocritical - because, though HSV2 has traditionally produced most cases of genital herpes, it's actually HSV1 causing most genital infections in Australia today, particularly among women and gay men. Apparently we need look no further than the increased prevalence of oral sex.
"Oral sex is the new black," says Dr Basil Donovan, Professor of Sexual Health at the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research.