Introducing Our Newest Health Expert: Amy Hendel

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  • As a woman and someone with a background in medicine and health, I was always aware of the importance of safe sex, particularly when my focus was trying to protect myself from STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).  As a parent of teens, one who is a girl, I was shocked to learn recently that 1 in 4 teenage girls has an STD and 2% of the girls who have STDs have HSV-2.  I certainly had my fair share of "sex talks" with the kids, but frankly I sometimes feel like it "passes through the brain without staying imprinted permanently."


    So I will be posting on this blog from a number of different perspectives - health expert - reporter - Mom - and I want to explore the misconceptions and myths as well as the latest news and information that surround this very misunderstood group of viruses. 

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    So how many of you know about Herpes...I mean really know the difference between Herpes 1 and 2 to begin with?? Herpes is a viral infection, which is why we cannot treat it with antibiotics.  Oral herpes presents around the mouth area while genital herpes attacks below the waist.  Herpes Simplex 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2) are the two primary viruses we talk about.  We call Herpes an STD because it usually is transmitted by close personal contact.  What astounded me was to find out that based on different sources, between 45 and 80 million Americans over age 12 may have herpes.


    Myth #1 - only HSV-2 can cause genital herpes - Actually - either HSV-1 or HSV- 2 can cause genital herpes.  Myth #2 - you are only at risk if your partner has blisters or open sores - actually, you are at risk even if the person with herpes is just experiencing pain or tingling - before the blisters actually appear.  That also means you can initially have it and not even know you have it until the blisters appear the first time.  Now, I consider myself lucky - I've been in a monogamous relationship for 26 years, and I have to tell you that aside from not ever wanting to date again - it was just too stressful - the idea that there is so a high risk for STDs these days  - herpes in particular - is really daunting.  So my big message of the day is safe sex - that means knowing your partner's health history, using strategies to engage in sex safely and getting the facts from reputable websites and your doctor. 


    Does herpes scare you??  Do you or your partner have herpes?  Do you worry about your kids and teens?? Share your thoughts and comments.

Published On: June 05, 2008