Herpes: The New Normal?

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I recently received a press release from a new dating website called Meet People with Herpes.  www.mpwh.com When I first opened the email I assumed it was a site dedicated to people with genital herpes but after reading further I realized that it also included people with HSV-1.  That surprised me.  Let me explain.   There are two general categories of the herpes simplex virus.  Type 1 and Type 2.  HSV-1 causes sores around the mouth and lips (commonly referred to as cold sores or fever blisters) and HSV-2 causes sores around the genitals and anus.  HSV-2 is what I’ve always considered an STD and as you would expect it comes with a pretty negative stigma.  I’ve always considered cold sores (HSV-1) as an unfortunate pain in the ass but certainly not with the same negative stigma as genital herpes.  Personally, I don’t think most people that occasionally get cold sores identify themselves as being afflicted with Herpes, and certainly not enough to seek out and participate on a dating site called Meet People with Herpes.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50, which is about 67% of the world’s population, are infected with HSV-1 and that number is growing.  Rapidly.  HSV-1 can spread through simple interactions such as kissing or even sharing an eating utensil like a fork or a spoon.  Is it safe to assume that given the number of “infected” people out there and the simple way in which the virus spreads that Herpes is the new normal?

When I was dating, I ran into 2 women (that I know of) that have HSV-2.  In both cases, despite the opportunity and invitation, to have sex with them, I didn’t.  Even though I knew the virus was contagious and transmitted primarily when sores were present.  Would I have been safe while they were sore free?  Probably, but I wasn’t willing to take the risk.  

All of this makes me think about my friends that are dating and my kids that will be dating soon.  Its scary to think about but the likelihood of them avoiding mouth herpes at the very least doesn't look good.