“Having herpes isn’t pretty; but it’s not something you should hide behind”

According to Marie Claire UK, over two thirds of your friends probably have herpes. Over 66% of people over 50 have herpes. Worldwide, herpes is thought to affect over 3.7 billion worldwide.

Herpes Simplex, known as herpes, has two subtypes; HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is typically defined by mouth ulcers, where as HSV-2 is characterised by blisters and sores around the genitalia.

Both types of the virus can lay dormant for years at a time and herpes will often flare up when you are fatigued, ill, or even menstruating.

At the moment, there’s no cure for HSV-1 or HSV-2. However, there is medication to help dismiss it. But what happens when the medication doesn’t help?

Kent resident Rosie Bailey, aged 24, has lived with HSV-2 since 2017

Rosie Bailey has lived with HSV-2 for almost three years now. “I was diagnosed with HSV type 2 on 23rd December 2017. Up to a week before my diagnosis, I felt symptoms of nausea, fever, general weakness, tiredness and fatigue. I had a sore throat and tight chest with shooting pains down my arms and legs.”

“The first year or so of having herpes was very unpredictable. I got an outbreak on average every two weeks”

“I went to a local GUM clinic in Ashford, Kent where they informed me I had herpes but sent off some samples for confirmation testing and sent me on my way with Aciclovir antiviral tablets.”

“Over Christmas, I spent a lot of time in bed, feeling very poorly and under the weather. Your first outbreak is always the worst but I thought it was going to be like this every time! I had to use a lot of anaesthetic topical cream and vaseline when I went to the toilet. I feared for my life if I needed to pass a stool because the pain was just excruciating.”

Rosie went on to say that trips to the local GUM for appointments to get new medication became a regular occurance. “I got an outbreak on average every two weeks, despite how much I took care of my diet, kept my stress levels down, cut down on smoking and so forth.” Doctors were unable to prescribe new medication unless they saw Rosie with sores; which meant that there were some “heated discussions with the doctors”. “I had to reassure them I wasn’t exactly lying to get pills”.

Despite feeling overwhelmed Rosie had a good support network from her partner. “My partner was, of course, ever so supportive and caring towards me and held some guilt about passing it to me; but it is no ones fault.” She kept her diagnosis within her close social group at first and then eventually told her mum. “She didn’t take it well. She didn’t ask me the right questions regarding it and she seemed very angry with me, which is not the appropriate approach”. After telling her mum, she told her dad. “I went to my father who I am closer to, and he was so comforting and told me it doesnt matter and it is life and people do get STIs.”

In January of this year, Rosie split up with her partner and it dawned on her that she faced a new challenge. “I knew it was going to be hard to come to terms with having to tell potential sexual partners about my condition. But over the few years I have had it, I have educated myself enough so I can confidentially discuss it with other peers, not just sexual partners. In fact, its something I like to randomly bring up in the pub. I don’t really care if it makes them uncomfortable because I don’t and never have seen it as taboo. I like to help others understand that, also. If anything, I have gone out my way to try and break the silence because I didn’t realise HOW MANY people live with it and live in fear.”

Asking Rosie why she has decided to go public with her story she said that to her, it’s important that people know and understand that it isn’t something to be ashamed of. “I want people to stop seeing it the way my mother does. Sexual health is so important to any adult and I believe it’s not taught correctly or we are only taught what is really important, like just how to put a condom on a banana or thinking we can only catch chlamydia.”

“I got the hashtag and want it to trend and people suffering or ‘survivors’ as some like to call it, can use it to engage with others or encourage people to feel more open and comfortable about ‘coming out’.”

Asking Rosie what she has learned over the past few years she said that “having that anxiety and worry on your mind about it can probably cause more outbreaks. Looking after yourself helps; so taking time out of the day or week to enjoy something to keep stress levels down and listening to nice podcasts too has helped me. I use an app called ‘Headspace’ which is made for mental health and general mind goodness. Eating well and cutting out dairy has helped too’.

If you want to learn and spread awareness, search using these hashtags on social media:

#HSVisme #HSVisus

One thought on ““Having herpes isn’t pretty; but it’s not something you should hide behind”

  1. Good stuff G
    How about a piece on the customs lorry park in sevington the government are going to build. It’s my popular

    Christian Ward
    07969 225951


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