Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2

by Cindy Enghusen

Do these phrases sound familiar?

  • "Does this mean I am going to die?"
  • "I thought only prostitutes got it."
  • "I was absolutely devastated. I felt dirty, I felt diseased, and I felt that I would never have another partner again. It was a huge burden."
  • "The whole thing terrifies me."
  • "I was humiliated when I found out."

I am 33, married with a child. I do not consider myself promiscuous. I was infected with Herpes in a monogamous relationship (we anticipated our vows, and I am now married to him). This is my story. I am writing this article so that others in my situation hopefully find the answers to their questions.

There are many forms of Herpes, but my article will focus on Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2. These are the most common forms of Herpes.

These viruses look identical under the microscope, and either type can infect the mouth or genitals. Most commonly, however, HSV-1 occurs above the waist, and HSV-2 below.

Let me be blunt, Herpes can be an emotionally devastating disease.

What is Herpes?

I was raised in an extremely strict, traditional 50's-type devout Christian home. Growing up I was taught that only prostitutes and sluts got Herpes.

I was one of those kids whose Mom had our sex education taken care of herself. She also pulled us out of some of the more secular classes when she didn't agree with its content. She was thorough about it too, and not shy about anything, even educating my friends if they asked questions and not at all shy to say how monogamous married sex was the ONLY way to go. We learnt all about the main STD's too, one of which was Herpes.

I was a rebellious child and did not listen. At 15 I did something really stupid, I had my first sexual relationship. I didn't get pregnant, and considering with whom, I was lucky enough not to catch anything.

For the next 12 or so years I had my fair share of relationships and partners. Nothing wild, not many, but still a game of roulette. When I was 27 I met this crazy OLD guy online. He was 15 years my senior, a divorced engineer with a 15-year-old son -- three strikes against him. I told him he was too old to be more than friends, so friends we became. Funny how some things change though. Two and a half years later, I married him.

We did have premarital sex. I did know he got a VERY occasional cold sore, but I never thought about it. I had cousins and an aunt that got them so I sympathized. He had a habit of poking and playing with them and that worried me. I told him he shouldn't do that. Did he know he could give himself genital herpes? In hindsight, I should have heeded my own warning and paid more attention but, I was still thinking I was invincible.

Two weeks before our wedding, we had dry sex. I try not to be too graphic, but it helps with a later explanation. I was a little sore the following day, but I figured that made sense. We had planned a trip to Mt. Rainier to let off some steam and spend some time alone without worrying about the wedding. I felt off, almost sick, and conditions weren't too good on the trip either. At one point we had to stop so I could, um, "view" the flora and fauna up close!

To make a long story short, I ended up with an outbreak, a yeast infection and a bacterial infection. I spent three days sick on the couch. I was achy, it was excruciating to walk or urinate and I had a fever. I finally made it to the doctor's office to get things checked out. She told me it looked like Herpes. I sobbed for several minutes. Remember, only sluts got this, so what did that make me?

My OB was very sympathetic and gave me a few statistics. For instance, Herpes is one of the most common STDs. Other statistics I found:

  • About one in five adults in the United States has genital Herpes, however as many as 90% are unaware that they have the virus.
  • About 50 - 80 % of the adult population in the United States has oral Herpes.

She sent me home with a prescription for Diflucan, and Valtrex. A few days later I went back in, went on a round of antibiotics, and a few days after that on another round of Diflucan. (On a personal note, whoever developed Diflucan should be knighted on so many levels!)