Living with Herpes and Coping with The Social Stigma

Why has herpes been such a taboo subject?

With so many other similar viral infections in this world, why has herpes been singled out? Here we discuss some tips on dealing with the social stigma.

Genital Herpes: The Public Taboo

Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of people will contract Herpes every year, a social stigma exists surrounding the condition.

Genital herpes is often considered a far more socially unacceptable condition than oral herpes, though both are a form of Herpes and oral herpes is actually more virulent than genital herpes.

Fortunately there are many things you can do to reduce the social stigma of Herpes and go on to live your life with pride, self confidence and respect.

Why is it that genital herpes is considered such a taboo topic? Perhaps the most common reason is that many people still associate genital herpes with sexual promiscuity, despite the fact that you can contract genital herpes from one sexual encounter.

Thus anyone that has genital herpes is unwittingly categorized as a ‘sexual promiscuous’ individual, or someone to be frowned upon.

This can result in fear and shame among people that have genital herpes, even though they may have contracted it innocently enough from a single intimate encounter.

While most people are willing to admit that they are prone to oral herpes or cold sores, they are not nearly as willing to reveal that they have genital herpes due to the fear of rejection and possible judgment from other people.

The social stigma surrounding genital herpes may also be due to the fact that many are uncomfortable with the subject of sex in general, or anything that might be perceived as ‘bad’ associated with sex.

Oral herpes is often referred to as cold sores instead of herpes; this may be one reason that cold sores are more readily accepted. If everyone went around saying “I have herpes” when they had a cold sore, chances are far more people would shy away.

Reducing the Social Stigma

Many health officials and educators are starting to recognize the harmful impact of the stigma against genital herpes.

Fortunately there are things that can be done to help reduce the stigma, and encourage people to talk about there condition and accept their life.

To start, the public needs to educate itself as much as possible about the condition. Herpes shouldn’t be associated with the idea that a person is sexually promiscuous, rather it should be seen as a common condition that all people who have been sexually active are susceptible to.

It should also be seen as a common virus, which it is even though it is contracted through sexual relations.

People should start thinking about genital herpes more like the common cold and less like some foreign disease that only rampant sex will bring on.

Likewise people with genital herpes should be embraced and supported by their healthcare providers, who should counsel patients openly and freely regarding STD’s and provide support options for patients dealing with a diagnosis of genital herpes.

If you or someone you know has genital herpes, you can also help reduce the social stigma associated with the disease by educating your friends and family members about herpes and the importance of safe sex practices.

You should also accept your condition, and be prepared to fully inform any sexual partners in the future of your condition in order to help prevent the unnecessary spread of the disease.