Comedian Sarah Silverman has a bit where she tells the audience that one in six people have genital herpes. My girlfriend gave me “the talk” about a different virus and I’d like to think I was very understanding (she’d have to give her opinion on that but I’m sure she’d agree!) As long as you’re open and up front with your partner before any type of contact occurs then you’ll be fine. The time I saw her perform, a dead silence fell over the room as Silverman squinted her eyes and raised her hand over her brow in an effort to spot any brave souls. “Oh. Since then, I have done lots of internet research, consulted with nurses and doctors, and done a little soul-searching to see how I should deal with the STD. Thus you only get to treat the symptoms. Jane vowed never to have sex with her husband of eight years again unless he promised to be gentle.
HPV can be passed from one person to another without actual sex—just by intimate touching or sharing sex toys—so this virus really gets around! It was really hard, especially telling the guy who gave it to me. While a handful of high profile people have gone on the record as having herpes—like retired porn star Belladonna, actor Anne Heche, and VICE’s Tracie Egan Morrissey—it’s not exactly a condition that will elicit the same amount of sympathy as, say, Kim Kardashian’s psoriasis, or Kate Middleton’s eczema. I felt so alone and spent a week crying. The New York–based social media assistant contracted the virus two years ago. The problem is that most people who have HPV don’t know it. The first is, an STD puts your genitalia on public watch, and your character into question.
We were together for two years, although he never admitted he had herpes and refused to be tested. Herpes simplex is a virus. The types of HPV that cause genital warts do not cause cancer. You fear that people will think you have been promiscuous and that they will react really badly to finding out you have it. It’s most contagious when there’s an open, seeping sore, though it can be spread without any symptoms. I’ve never had a refusal from a potential date. Symptoms range for everyone, depending on things like stress levels and immune system, which is why some people carry the virus but never know it.
They might go away on their own (thanks immune system!), respond to prescription medication, or be frozen off via cryotherapy. Are you living with HSV1 or HSV2 and feel similarly? Eventually, it became less frequent — a couple of times a year. So it is like HIV and I will live with it forever? All of these treatments get rid of the warts by irritating them, so be prepared for some discomfort. I did a lot of research on the Internet and joined a few online support forums. That can be challenging to wrap your head around since there’s still the pesky impression that it’s a shameful thing to contract.
One thing that did bother me about the information on the Internet was that a lot of it was written from a medical perspective and not easy to understand for the layperson. Dawson admits she’s still sensitive about herpes humor, which is tough since it’s often an easy go-to gag for comedians and sketch shows. You might have noticed that I said HPV was preventable, right? One person told me that attending a support-group meeting was a life-changing moment for them — they no longer felt so isolated and alone.