Saturday, March 17, 2012

Show Me the (STD) CarFax

Herpes? Shudder. Herpes Simplex Virus? Shiver, shiver. Cold sore? Oh. That's it? Really? No big deal.

And it isn't.

Whether it's an upstairs blister or a downstairs blister, HSV is nothing more than a minor inconvenience-- a life-long inconvenience but a minor one nonetheless.

But that's not what society says. To hear someone say they have herpes is like hearing someone say they have HIV. But it's not the same in no way, shape, or form. HIV is life-threatening. HSV isn't. If anything, it's just a painful mood killer.

I don't want to make too light of it, though, because it is still a sexually transmitted disease (STD) for the most part, especially if we're talking HSV-2. I say for the most part because I know of a child who was diagnosed with HSV-1/cold sore when he was just 5 and, as far as I know, there was no sex involved. Also, the childhood illness, Chickenpox, is a type of herpes. If you don't believe it, see for yourself. Nevertheless, having HSV means an increase in susceptibility to other STDs so caution, condoms, and control are necessary.

What's really shocking is that according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other sites, roughly 20-25% of sexually active females (and 1 in 9 males) have HSV-2. That number could actually be much larger because "most people infected with HSV-2 are not aware of their infection". What is shocking about this is that number. It actually suggests that more females are infected by males because, maybe, those females are being infected by the same males. This just may be true because it is less likely for a female to give her male partner herpes. (None of this excludes the possibility of the disease also being spread by female-to-female encounters). What is, also, possibly true is that 80% of the human population has HSV-1 (the oral/cold sore herpes), according to Dr. Jeff Benson of the Dudley Coe Health Center. And oral herpes, whether a person is having a visible outbreak or not, can be passed to the genitals through oral sex-- you know, the thing nearly every rapper talks/brags about.

I, once, heard a doctor on Oprah refer to a woman's body as a trash can for men's diseases. The more I research, the more I learn that is true. For instance, due to anatomy, it is less likely for a male to receive HIV from a female, yet, the number of infected females, especially black females, far exceeds that of "heterosexual" men. The CDC reports that 85% of HIV-infected black women acquired the disease through a heterosexual encounter.

Men spread the seeds for PID, BV, HPV, and a whole host of other sexually transmitted diseases because, most of the time, men rarely get symptoms so they do not know they have it. But women, due to the receptive nature of their organs, create the environment for fostering the germs. So women reap many of the consequences, regardless of whether they are in a monogamous relationship or not. Men just dump the garbage. And we, women, take it.

We need to stop taking it. We need to demand to see the CarFax, to see a man's literal clean bill of health. We need to be able to walk in with our eyes wide open, knowing what we have-- be it a lemon, a fresh-off-the-lot, or a car with some mileage. We need to know the deal.

Now, dating someone with an STD takes a lot of research and time, true, as well as a lot of understanding. And it, also, requires that you get to know someone before you take that intimate leap, to decide if that person is worth the risk or, at minimum, an inconvenience. More times than not, (s)he is worth it because that person would have taken the time to evaluate his/herself and his/her decisions-- past, present, and future (you might still have your scumbags whether infected or not). So don't use a tarnished history to rule out endless possibilities of a life with someone who could love you better than the next person can.

Besides, time, research, and understanding are things that need to be employed in ANY relationship ANYWAY, whether we're talking about someone with an STD or an SUV, herpes or a hooptie. Time is a valuable revealer. Use it well.



Just read an interesting article about the disparity between black women and white women and the HPV.
Just some more interesting facts about HPV as seen on ABC's The Revolution

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