Anne of Green Gables had herpes (and you probably do, too)

Anne of Green Gables, by the time she reached middle-age, had apparently joined the majority of adults who test positive for the virus herpes simplex type 1.

From Chapter 40 of Anne of Ingleside:

Anne sneezed. She began to be afraid she was taking a cold in the head. How ghastly it would be to sniffle all through dinner under the eyes of Mrs. Andrew Dawson, nee Christine Stuart! A spot on her lip stung . . . probably a horrible cold-sore was coming on it. Did Juliet ever sneeze? Fancy Portia with chilblains! Or Argive Helen hiccoughing! Or Cleopatra with corns!

Yes, Anne of Green Gables, by the time she reached middle-age, had apparently joined the majority of adults who test positive for the virus herpes simplex type 1 — the cause of the painful, little mouth blisters known colloquially as "cold sores". Estimates vary when it comes to how many of us are HSV-1 carriers. A 2006 study found evidence of HSV-1 infection in 57.7 percent of American adults, ages 14 to 49.* Bryan Cullen, a virologist at Duke University, told me he's seen studies showing that closer to 70 percent of adults are infected — although only something like 1/3rd of those will ever get cold sores.

Don't judge Anne of Green Gables. Chances are good that you're in the same boat.

But why is this virus so common?

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Unlike herpes simplex type 2 — the virus you probably think of when you think "herpes" — HSV-1 isn't necessarily a sexually transmitted disease. Most people are infected when they're still little kids. And they're infected by really common behaviors that nobody wants to stop anytime soon — namely, the practice of adults kissing little kids because they're just so darn kissable. (There are several scenes in Anne of Ingleside where Anne probably passes HSV-1 on to her own offspring.)

Lots of people get it as kids. Lots more get it as teenagers when they start kissing the people who caught it in childhood. There's not an easy way to stop that spread. At least, not any way that doesn't make you look sort of stern, unaffectionate, and anti-social. With HSV-2, there are increasingly social influences in place that discourage the spread of the disease. For HSV-1, it's exactly the opposite. Our societal norms make the spread of the virus almost inevitable.

Worse, the virus has some quirks that allow it to really take advantage of those social norms. Young Anne might not have been willing to kiss Marilla right on a gross, weeping blister. But Marilla didn't need a blister to spread the virus.

In fact, the symptoms described in Anne of Ingleside — feeling a tingling pain in the lip where the sore would eventually appear — are a hallmark of herpes blisters. That's because, when it's not hard at work making obvious blisters, the herpes virus can live, silently, in your nerve cells. The virus bunkers down and releases a type of RNA that prevents the host cell from dying. Nobody is entirely sure what causes relapses to happen, but the appearance of new blisters has been associated with any number of things — from other illnesses to stress. (It's worth noting that, in this passage, Anne is on the way to have dinner with her husband's old girlfriend and has, in general, been feeling pretty emotionally distraught about the state of her and Gilbert's relationship.)

Whatever the cause, when a new outbreak happens, the virus begins replicating itself and travels along nerve fibers called axons to reach the epithelial cells — the cells that make up your skin. This is where the showdown happens between the herpes and your immune system, and it's kind of a messy battle. The pain Anne is experiencing is a byproduct of the inflammatory immune response, Cullen told me.

Anne would be most contagious when she has a cold sore on her lip. But that doesn't mean she wouldn't be contagious the rest of the time. The virus is always there. Even if you can't tell a person has HSV-1, they could still be shedding viruses and infecting you.

Which brings me to one final point. I don't want to speculate on Anne and Gilbert's sex life, or yours. But everybody should be aware that "oral herpes" isn't confined to the mouth. Truth is, HSV-1 can pass from one host to another via any mucus membrane, and that includes the ones on your genitals. If somebody with oral herpes goes down on you, there's a possibility that they could give you oral herpes in a place that is most definitely not your mouth. And cases of this happening are one the rise. The virus is common, but the social side-effects can be pretty awkward. So this is a reason to at least consider condoms and dental dams for oral sex.

There is one bit of silver lining to the bummer that is orally transmitted herpes on your genitals. It's possible that someone infected this way wouldn't have recurrent outbreaks on their junk. "Some studies have reported that genital HSV1, and oral HSV2, cause fewer lesions in the non-traditional location," Cullen told me. "But again," he added, "fewer is not always none."

*And, yes, I know Anne of Green Gables was Canadian. The rates seem to be similar up there.

Published 12:42 pm Thu, Jan 24, 2013

About the Author

Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.

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84 Responses to “Anne of Green Gables had herpes (and you probably do, too)”

  1. Any chance of a vaccine soon? I understand it might be difficult as the herpes viruses are quite large for viruses and have very complex genomes.

    • gt bear says:

       dunno. herpes is a close relative of chicken pox/shingles (herpes zoster) and there’s a vaccine for that now. herpes is one of the few std’s i haven’t been tested for yet. it’s on my to-do list, but the rate at which i get to things on my list is pretty slow.

      • My doctor actually advises against it unless you have a reason to think you might be infected — like a sore or an infected partner. (And it’s not part of a standard, basic STD workup, either.) That’s because there’s a pretty high risk of false negative on the test. It’s not bad if you’re looking only at a population that is pre-selected to be more likely to have the virus (i.e., people experiencing what they think is an outbreak). But if you’re testing everybody, you’re going to end up with a lot of people who think they have it and don’t. 

        Add to that all the social side effects of an incorrect positive diagnosis and, well … 

        • GawainLavers says:

          Also, at least as explained to me, they can’t distinguish between oral vs. gential.

          I was surprised though, I thought HSV1 was more like 90% than 57%.  If you’ve ever had a cold sore you’ve got it (well, one of them), right?  I’m pretty sure I had them when I was younger, although it’s been long enough that I can’t remember any particular instance.

          I’ve read estimates on HSV2 around 20%, which is not a small number.

          • Tess says:

            There’s a type-specific test now.  Actually, I think there are two.

          • There are type-specific tests, yes, but because either type can infect either location, knowing the type doesn’t tell you where you are infected. The only way to know for sure what you have where is to swab a sore and then have a type-specific test done on the swab.

        • dknewell says:

          The western Blot Test (only performed at UW I believe) is considered to be 99% accurate. You will have to pay for it yourself as insurance typically doesn’t cover.

        • MurasakiMadness says:

          I’m poly, and get tested regularly. I don’t feel it’s my place, nor my doctor’s place, to tell a potential partner (or a partner’s partner) what risks they should be aware of or willing to accept. 

  2. Rindan says:

    Does there exist anyone on this planet that actually used dental dams for their prescribed purpose of oral sex? I think anyone that pulls out a dental dam who has not had sex ed in the past decade or two probably won’t even know WTF it is.

    • ladymeag says:

       I have used dental dams plenty and I’m in my 30s. I’ve used them with male and female partners. I’ve also used gloves with male and female partners for manual sex. Condoms aren’t where safer sex begins and ends.

    • Yup. I’m 27 and have never had a sex ed class. (I live in the South.) I’ve only used them with women, however, and not always.

    • MurasakiMadness says:

      Hence the need for more education, and a willingness to read books, blogs, etc after high school. 

      Also, handy news (no pun intended), gloves and condoms can be cut to use as dental dams. Makes those flavored rubbers in the variety packs extra useful :)

      I feel if barriers are looked at as another type of sex toy, that also reduces worry, then it takes cloud of “chore” out of it.

  3. Gilbert Wham says:

     It’s also responsible for Bell’s Palsy, which can be permanently disfiguring – a friend of mine has extensive facial paralysis due to it.

    • bcsizemo says:

      I had that about 8 years ago.  Fortunately mine sorted itself out and everything is more or less back to normal.  My best friend’s father had it about 5 years ago and he still has some paralysis.  My wife and I were on vacation (or just started vacation) when it set in.  By the third day in she had me so worked up that I thought I might be having some type of brain issue going on…a quick trip to the ER set everything straight. 

      People have no idea how hard it is to eat food when half your face doesn’t work.

  4. oasisob1 says:

    “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? I can tell that you do.”

    But seriously, I’m trying to make sense of whether the incidence in Japan is incredibly low, or whether these tables don’t provide enough information (# of cases doesn’t seem to be calculated against population here):
    http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/10/07-046128-table-T5.html
    http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/10/07-046128-table-T6.html
    Both tables part of this paper:
    http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/10/07-046128/en/

    Seems to me (a guy who spent 7 years in Japan) that the Japanese don’t do a lot of kissing of their children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren. A simple bow and a how do you do. Maybe a formal handing over of an envelope with some cash inside…

    • edgore says:

      Having someone just hand me an envelope of cash instead is now going to be my go-to form of prophylaxis in all situations.

  5. SamSam says:

    People should recall that there is a difference between oral herpes (often called a “cold sore”), and a canker sore (often incorrectly called a “cold sore”).

    A true herpes cold sore creates a red tingly spot (or spots) on the outside of your lips, which can eventually bubble up and turn crusty and yucky. A canker sore is an open sore on the inside of the mouth, often much more painful, but actually caused by bacteria, not the virus, and is not transmittable (though you don’t necessarily want to lick your baby with a bacteria-and-pus-filled open wound inside your mouth….).

    I frequently hear people refer to a canker sore as if it’s a cold sore, and they often believe that those inside-mouth sores are caused by herpes.

    • I’ve asked several doctors about this and they have all said that nearly all canker sores are the same as cold sores. Herpes simplex 1. The internet in general backs me up on this if you do a search.

    • MediaUnbalance says:

      People should also realize that HSV 1 can also show up on your nose or in your eyes.  I had a particularly nasty one on the side of my nose last week.  Luckily Famciclovir seem to get rid of it after I realized what it was.

    • Alisha Thompson says:

      You can also do a search on “intraoral herpes” to show that they are herpes and do come on the inside of your mouth. Dentists have to deal with intraoral all the time.

    • tankadin says:

      When I was a senior in high school, I used to chew sugarless gum (“Extra” brand, I think) nearly every waking hour.  I eventually discovered that it gave me really bad canker sores inside my mouth, often several at the same time.  When I stopped chewing the gum, the sores went away.  I assume it was an allergic reaction of some kind, but I don’t know which ingredient in the gum was responsible.

  6. Wheels_in_Emotion says:

    Some interesting facts.
    -HSV1 prefers to live near the mouth and HSV2 prefers to live near the genitals but either can live in each location.
    -If a person who has oral herpes (HSV1) has intercourse with someone who has genital HSV1 infection, transmission to a new location is highly unlikely.
    -The recurrence rate for genital HSV 1 infection is about one outbreak every other year vs. HSV 2 genital infection that recurs 4-6 times per year.

    I have HSV1 in the genitals. It sucks. The worst part is not the outbreak, the worst part is telling new partners. I’m lucky in that I had two small outbreaks a few months apart a couple of years ago and haven’t had any since. Daily use of Valtrex helps.

    What’s important is that people stop making herpes jokes and using the word “clean” if you don’t have it. With the jokes and the high rate of infection, the chance that you’re insulting the person you’re telling the joke to is very high. As to “clean”, that implies that those that carry it are “dirty”. Many people that contract herpes feel dirty and that is accompanied with depression.

    I found this booklet to be the most helpful source of information.
    http://westoverheights.com/handbook.html

  7. soupcrusher says:

    Wheels summed things up nicely, but I thought I’d share too. I contracted herpes a few years back from an ex I was with for several years. She told me about it up front, so I wasn’t surprised that I got it eventually. But it took a while, a few years for me to contract it. And I never knew I’d gotten it, even after being tested negative once before, until I had my first outbreak. It was pretty nasty, more uncomfortable than anything. I’d imagine if cleanliness is not your friend than it’s a problem. As soon as I identified it and got on some meds it went away pretty quickly. Overall, it’s no fun to deal with but if it’s something that irritates me for a couple weeks every couple of years or more I can live with it. The worst part of it obviously is the risk of giving it to someone else. Which means telling someone you have it before engaging in anything sexual. And like Wheels said, that can be really tough going. People think herpes and just picture you have sores all over your genitals, all the time. It’s not fun to think about, but so many people have it! Herpes sucks, but it’s manageable. I’ve had spider bites with grosser side effects.

  8. destroy_all_humans says:

    i must be immune, i’ve shared a lot of pipes with unsavory fellows.

    • I_of_Horus says:

      “70 percent of adults are infected — although only something like 1/3rd of those will ever get cold sores.”

      Anyway, sharing paraphernalia is always a bad idea. Just saying.

    • C W says:

      Much more likely you were initially infected as a child and haven’t displayed symptoms since.

  9. blueelm says:

    You know… everyone I know gets these, everyone in my family. People I’ve dated have had them. And I’ve never gotten one :/ I’m sure I have the virus, but for some reason I have never had a cold sore or canker sore (and mercifully never something that festers on the side of my face as described above).

    I have, however, had shingles. They weren’t fun :(

  10. bolamig says:

    I thought I had a recurrent cold sore until my dentist noticed it and said: Oh, that’s just a fungal infection.  He wrote me a prescription for topical Nystatin and triamcinolone cream.  That cleared it up in just a few days, and it has worked several times since.  Much better than wasting money on the over the counter cold sore remedies (Abbreva) which apparently have only the slimmest chance of being hlepful even when used correctly.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Seborrheic dermatitis? Don’t accept a diagnosis of that unless someone looks at a scraping under a microscope. I was misdiagnosed and treated for seb derm and ended up losing half the skin on my face and getting impetigo and a carbuncle from the treatment.

      • Christopher Houser says:

        Jesus. I’m confident I had Seborrheic Dermatitis at 17 (great thing to have in high school) as I had a dry patch on my forehead that lasted.. Christ, I don’t know how long. Kept flaking but never really healed. Never got it checked out, it eventually just healed itself.

        Either way, that’s awful and I’m sorry to hear you developed complications due to the incompetence of others. :(

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          The resident just decided that since it was San Francisco and I was skinny, I must have AIDS and thus must have seb derm. When you scrape off a miniscule bit of dry skin and look at it under the microscope, seb derm is very recognizable. I just had an allergy to Carmex.

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

        I am curious; do you still trust doctors’ diagnoses?

        After the second or third time I was misdiagnosed I stopped trusting anyone but myself to make decisions about my health.  This has resulted in my continued existence.

  11. foobar says:

    These always sound to me like someone with herpes building an excuse for them to spread the disease, “since everyone has it anyway”.

    • I can conclusively tell you that I have neither HSV-1 nor HSV-2. This is somebody talking about the complexity of an EXTREMELY common, but socially stigmatized virus. Life isn’t simple. 

      • foobar says:

        Oh I agree. We need to both de-stigmatize it and respect people’s right not to get infected with it.

        • Tess says:

          You don’t actually have the right not to get infected with anything.  Would you say you have the right not to be exposed to the common cold, or the flu, or the chicken pox?  Using that language is adding to the stigma in the very sentence where you say you want to de-stigmatize it.

          Many, maybe most, people who are positive for either HSV don’t know it.  Many, maybe most people who know they have it don’t know it can be transmitted when they’re asymptomatic.  

          If you want no risk of picking up either of these, don’t kiss or have sex with anyone. Even people who test negative could be exposed at some point, it happens.

          • foobar says:

            As Maggie pointed out, life isn’t simple. If you’ve got an STD, you have an obligation to inform any sexy time partners before the act, no matter how awkward it is.

            That people may then opt not to kiss you does not in and of itself stigmatize the disease. It’s a choice people most certainly do have the right to make for themselves. 

          • Tess says:

            Calling HSV1 an STI is kind of silly. Kissing isn’t always sexual; it can be contracted by lots of non-sexual routes. And it’s usually oral. Sure, you can pass it around sexually, but you can pass around the flu by having sex too. It’s not an STI, it’s just that if you’re shedding influenza and you’re that close for that long…

            Anyway, you misunderstand me. I’m a huge fan of disclosure. My problem was that you seemed to think people have a “right” not to get a disease that most people acquire in childhood. You don’t have the right not to get any disease; that’s not a right. If you’re concerned about contracting something, you take steps to avoid contracting it. It is not a violation of someone’s human rights not to disclose. In my opinion, it’s still wrong. It’s just not a rights violation.

            Your language itself was stigmatizing, because I can’t imagine anyone ever saying they had a right not to catch a cold or the flu. You’re thinking of this as an STI and therefore different – which is stigmatizing. All by itself.

          • foobar says:

            @tess:twitter It seems like we might be stumbling over semantics. Would you agree that one has a right not to be knowingly infected by another person?

        • C W says:

          “We need to both de-stigmatize it”

          Something you’re not working towards, with your railing against the reality of infections.

          “and respect people’s right not to get infected with it.”I sincerely doubt you’ve been tested, nor have you requested every partner you’ve had be tested for HSV1 (they tend to test for HSV2, which doesn’t mean that the partner doesn’t “have herpes”.)Living in a fantasy world doesn’t “protect” you.

          • foobar says:

            I don’t, and has been pointed out elsewhere, can’t know with absolute certainty that I don’t have it, but I don’t have any reason to believe I do.

            Infecting everyone with it would de-stigmatize it, but surely you wouldn’t argue for that. I hope.

          • C W says:

            “can’t know with absolute certainty that I don’t have it, but I don’t have any reason to believe I do”

            A responsible person would then assume that they DO have it versus throwing a fit when statistics discuss the extreme commonality/ease of transmission and likelihood that many people do not express symptoms or have outbreaks. If you seriously cared, you’d be tested for it as well. That you’re guessing is answer enough.

          • foobar says:

            @google-4b3c8a17ed014a95db54ba5b738648c0:disqus As was pointed out elsewhere, the test has too high a false positive to be useful on individuals.

            I get tested for STDs every 56 days.

          • C W says:

            “I get tested for STDs every 56 days.”

            That has nothing to do with HSV1. It is not part of the normal STD battery.

          • foobar says:

            @google-4b3c8a17ed014a95db54ba5b738648c0:disqus Again, as pointed out, because there is not a useful test for individuals.

            That you can’t know you don’t have it does not mean you can’t necessarily know you do.

    • C W says:

      And you always sound like someone in denial about every single person you’ve kissed who has HSV1. Even saintly grammy and pop-pop.

  12. Anne of Green Gables, you ignorant slut.

  13. boomer0127 says:

    I believe it was Stephen Strauss at the 1994 herpes meeting in Vancouver who put it best:  “Due to the mixing and matching of mucous membranes” in regard to the niche mismatch of types 1 and 2.

    Herpes is forever, indeed.

  14. aurora50 says:

    Have had them for years…since childhood they manifested with sun burn, even sun exposure (yay sun screening products)…also with concentrated cannabis product, delivered by small pipe…

    have had no outbreaks in the last 10 years due to two treatments.  At the first ‘tingle’ I apply Geranium Essential Oil, neat and direct, every hour for 3 hours and then every 3 hours for a grand total of 6.  Also, I have a anti-viral tonic created by my naturopath, elderberry flower, etc; I use that in high-virus season. 

    I have had stage IV lymphoma for the last 6 years; chemo every 2 months; etc etc…and with these two remedies have been ‘wicked herp’ breakout free.

    Hope my story can help.

    • I_of_Horus says:

      Great it works for you, but if I ever notice any tingling, I’ll stick to science based medicine.

      • aurora50 says:

        Dear Horus:  I would invite you to entertain a healthy skepticism of ‘science based medicines’.  Especially in the last few decades, this has meant Big Pharma…and they truly have not been invested in the health of their customers…

        I am in my seventh decade now, so that means I have dealt with the ‘wicked herp’ for at least 50 years.  We will pass over gently the many ‘scientific’ remedies offered by pediatricians and physicians in my earlier years.  When I became interested in being responsible for my own health and that of my infant children, I discovered other theoretical models for healing.  I experimented on myself and was very happy to come up with the remedies I mentioned above.

        Even with the cancer pain and all, I still minimize my intake of pharmaceuticals…oh, I haven’t really said why…it’s the SIDE EFFECTS. 
        I nursed grandparents, parents, in-laws and husband as they lived and died, mostly of cancers. 
        One of the most insidious of practices is when the patient starts being medicated for the side effects of the drugs given for the side effects of the drug treating the main medical issue.

        Having seen that so often and so up close, I refuse to do it to myself. (And note that verb is in the active rather than passive voice.)
        It is an on-going effort and I am grateful that I have access to practitioners who are trained in other traditions, other sources of wisdom, than the rambunctious upstart that is western medical science.

        I am the boss of me.  I engage a physician as I would a mechanic if I owned a fine fine automobile. 

        Now, I expect that in your life time, and maybe even in what remains of mine, the  explosion of new tech, perhaps especially the 3-D printers, is going to mean huge strides in creating more effective and less toxic meds. 
        Even now, I am fortunate to be treated for my cancer with a monoclonal antibody, rather than the chemical cocktail that was standard five years ago.

        I offer this longer narrative, as elders tend to do. 
        Rejoice in good health and be very wary of ‘scientific medicine’.  They are very good at diagnosis, great at mechanical repairs.  It is when they are faced with the mysterious malfunctions of organs and blood and cells that can’t be seen that things can go awry. 

        Listen to Xeni; she knows the score.

      • psilax says:

        That was a little uncharitable.  I don’t know how or why geranium oil would be effective for cold sores, but I can’t see why Aurora50 would lie about it, and the original post seemed pretty balanced, so I don’t see the need to call his/her intellectual rigour into question for using this treatment.

        I work in academic biomedical research (my last job was spending 3 years investigating drug actions, working with big pharma), and I don’t think there is any problem with “natural remedies.”  I have a big problem with faith-based medicine, where people refuse to have their belief in the remedies challenged.  But if you properly test it, and it still works, voila! Medicine advances, and we can all benefit.

        Most adults learn how to administer effective doses of caffeine, alcohol and other interesting substances without a doctor’s advice: why not geranium oil? All we need to do is put the idea to the test to see if it stands up.

        • Laura Probst says:

          The citronellol present in Geranium oil (Pelargonium graveolens) has shown itself to be an effective treatment against enveloped viruses such as HSV-1, as well as the flu virus.  The essential oils most highly referenced and recommended for treating herpes topically are Melissa (Melissa officinalis – aka Lemon Balm) and Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica).  Melissa oil as well as Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) demonstrate significant antiherpetic activity and have shown themselves to be highly active against acyclovir- resistant HSV-1 strains.  Other essential oils that have been studied for their antiviral/virucidal properties are Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Hyssop (Helichrysum italicum – aka Everlasting or Immortelle), and Sandalwood (Santalum album).  I hope this infuses some science into what may seem like a “voodoo” topic to some.
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21607799
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17353250

    • C W says:

      “have had no outbreaks in the last 10 years due to two treatments.  At the first ‘tingle’ I apply Geranium Essential Oil, neat and direct, every hour for 3 hours and then every 3 hours for a grand total of 6.  Also, I have a anti-viral tonic created by my naturopath, elderberry flower”

      Would you be interested in a rock that keeps away tigers? My holisticzoologist recommended me a very effective one.

      • desmay says:

        I don’t know why you would be so dismissive if this works for aurora50 – obviously s/he takes “science based” medicine seriously if s/he has treated his/her cancer with chemotherapy. 

        Maybe it’s a placebo effect, but sometimes, even if we don’t yet know why, natural remedies work. Take aspirin, for instance – willow bark was used in ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and during Europe’s Middle Ages to treat ‘fever, pain and inflammation’, but the active ingredient salicin (a close relative of Asprin’s man-made acetylsalicylic acid) wasn’t known until the 19th century, and the reason it worked not known until the mid 20th. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_aspirin

        • aurora50 says:

          Thank you for making this comment. 

          My high school education was very good; I was well grounded in the history of science as well as the sciences themselves.  Going to prep schools in the mid-60′s, I benefited from strong new math and science curricula created at the time to compete with the Soviets (they got Sputnik up first! we used to sit out in the summer nights and watch it blink over head, whilst our grandfather ranted about the Communists…fun times!) 

          I was headed for a career as a marine biologist when I got side-tracked by what seemed to me the more ‘relevant’ issues of the inequities of the Viet Nam war, segregation, the awful Summer of ’68, then Woodstock…never made it back to the labs.  But have always read and studied on my own.

          Am bewildered by the shallow draft of knowledge exemplified by C W’s snarky remarks.  It seems very regressive.

          Have just posted a minor epic in response to ‘Horus’. 

          Be well!

        • psilax says:

          Seriously.  And clove oil?  Fantastic topical painkiller for your mouth (handy for really painful canker sores, although better to brush your teeth and give yourself a good swish with something to kill germs).  If you don’t believe me, chew on a clove and feel your tongue go numb.  Which is why clove oil is still an ingredient in temporary fillings and dry-socket preparations, helping raw nerves settle down.

      • L_Mariachi says:

        If you’re going to borrow snark from the Simpsons instead of even coming up with your own, try to make sure it’s relevant. Aurora50 had outbreaks before starting to take herbal remedies. After she began applying the herbal remedies the outbreaks were mitigated.

        The parallel is not a magic tiger-repellent rock that keeps tigers away from where they never existed to begin with, the parallel is a fence and rifle that keep tigers out of an area where they were previously rampant.

        • C W says:

          It’s still mistaking correlation for causation, and thus relevant.

          • L_Mariachi says:

            The application of OP’s remedies correlates with diminished outbreaks. The Lisa Simpson analogy doesn’t provide any correlation. There were no tigers before the magic rock, there are no tigers after the magic rock. The presence of the rock correlates with nothing. Ergo, the rock — and the example — are irrelevant.

            Correlation doesn’t prove causation, but it’s a good starting point. OP tried something, it seems to work, she’s helpfully sharing information. You’re not being helpful, you’re just shitting all over that contribution, and I don’t think you ought to do that without some evidence.

  15. Laura Probst says:

    I contracted HSV-1 when I was around 12 years old, from a friend who had borrowed my lip gloss.  A day or two after I used the same lip gloss, I exploded with blisters; they were all over my lips, chin, and nose.  It was a horrible case (very similar to my chicken pox outbreak, which caused lesions to appear inside my nose, mouth, and genitals) and, frankly, I’ve never forgiven that friend.  I’ve tried almost every OTC treatment that’s come out to help with my outbreaks, which, thankfully, only occur when I’m under stress, so I can go several years without having one.  (BTW Abbreva sucks; it actually made an outbreak of mine worse.)  I’ve finally come up with my own routine which works beautifully and cuts outbreak time (from first tingle to fully healed skin) to about a week.  My question is this:  I realize telling a potential partner about the HSV-1 before any kind of sexual activity is required, but what about kissing?  Do you tell someone right before they dive in, “Hey, just so you know, I get cold sores” or do you just assume that kissing someone is an acceptable risk?  It’s hard to keep up with STD etiquette these days.

    • Tess says:

      When in doubt, disclose…  there are immunocompromised people out there who definitely need to know.  

      • Alisha Thompson says:

        I sincerely hope immuno-compromised people are initiating the full conversation about their immuno-compromisedness then, as well as asking about if  new partners have ever in their lives had mono, chicken pox, and all of the other common illnesses that live in one’s body and can be transmitted by contact.

        *shakes head* There is a certain amount of personal responsibility that is being disregarded on both sides here. Yes, disclosure is good on both sides. The extent though, especially if people don’t care enough about their own personal safety to ask? It’s not all on the poz’s end.

        • Tess says:

          Fascinating. In one place I’m being blamed for saying people should accept that there’s risk, in another for saying that people should disclose. I was answering a simple question. When in doubt, disclose your status, because the person you’re about to kiss could really need to know. Should they tell you that? Sure! Do you want to be the person responsible for getting them really sick because neither of you communicated? Hopefully not! “You should have said!” is cold comfort, you know?

          Disclosing an infectious *anything* is a morally sound, respectful choice. I never said other people shouldn’t take any responsibility. The question was, if I’m positive, should I disclose. The answer is yes.

          If the question is “I’m negative, should I ask?” the answer is… wait for it… ALSO YES.

  16. Christopher Houser says:

    Jesus, there’s no way there numbers are that high. I’ve never had a cold sore and, fortunately never dealt with adults kissing me on the lips. What a filthy habit, I only remember experiencing it briefly when I was very small. I’m lucky that the one time I almost got it, the girl resisted kissing me pretty hard because she had a cold sore that she claimed was from busting her lip. She didn’t have to lie, but I’m glad she didn’t let me make mistakes from her lie.

  17. tubacat says:

     If/when I feel the tell-tale tingle, I take 4000 or so mg of lysine (and avoid nuts, legumes and chocolate). Usually heads it off (I keep taking the lysine until the tingle goes away). If that doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, I use Abreva. I’ve had good results – better when I rub it in thoroughly.

    In case this is helpful.

  18. littletinyarmsosaurus says:

    stern, unaffectionate, and anti-social

    You rang? I know it’s stupid, but these Herpes/HSV stories always make we want to shrivel up even more and stop working on that whole depression/anxiety/not-having-kissed-anyone-ever thing for a good while. Ugh.

    • cub says:

      i can tell from your name that it might be difficult, but hugs don’t transmit bugs.

    • C W says:

      You could still have it from being kissed as a child by family and family friends. Get re-tested for HSV1 if you’re that paranoid about kissing others, being diagnosed with it would probably get you over that real fast.

  19. Jake Rennie says:

    I am infinitely grateful that the picture for this (which appeared on every article at the time) has changed.

    Previously it was an actual herp.

  20. I want to officially state my belief that it is the infected person’s responsibility to disclose. At the same time, I roll my eyes enthusiastically at all the people who will refuse to kiss or have sex with someone who is confirmed positive, but who have all sorts of possibly-infectious contact with people who have never been tested at all, and so who may be positive, and are ignorant of that fact. I have found this to be annoyingly common. “I have never tested positive for this STD,” is not the same thing as, “I have tested negative.” With every STD other than herpes, people seem to make that distinction, but something about herpes causes it to go out the window.

    All that being said, I don’t disclose oral herpes before kissing, because, fuck’s sakes, so many people have it that I think you just have to assume.

    If you have herpes, and if you want to go the mainstream-medicine route, Valtrex is very effective for a lot of people. You can take it daily if you have regular outbreaks, or episodically if you don’t. Generic is now available.

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