Talk STDs with Sue
WebMD Live Events Transcript
Usually you have to wait until Sunday night watch the
popular Oxygen Network program, Talk Sex With Sue Johanson. But she joined us on
April 14, 2004 as part of STD Awareness Month to share the results of a recent
survey on genital herpes treatment and to answer questions about living and loving when you have an
The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been
reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you
should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational
Please tell us about the new survey commissioned by the National Women's
Health Resource Center.
The survey which looked at patients managing long-term chronic
conditions suggests that more than twice as many patients with asthma
who are aware of suppressive therapy and use it on a regular basis to
manage their condition, when compared to patients with genital herpes
who are aware of suppressive therapy. This despite research that shows
suppressive therapy can help reduce the frequency of recurrent genital
herpes outbreaks for many patients.
In addition, of all the respondents, genital herpes patients had the
highest incidence of not doing anything to manage their condition.
Why do you suppose that is?
There are probably quite a few reasons why. They are
embarrassed; they are ashamed to admit they have this infection; some may feel
it is punishment for their sexual behavior; some may not be aware there is
treatment; some are afraid to ask questions because they don't want to
know the answers. For example, "Can I ever have a baby the "normal"
way?" Some feel guilty. Many feel extreme anger at the person who
infected them. To be honest, some don't like the idea of taking
medication every day and for others, the cost may be prohibitive.
But don't they have genital herpes every day? It isn't just when you
have outbreaks. It is with you for life.
The virus is with you for life. It remains stored at the base of your
spinal cord, but may not bother you at all, or you may experience
infrequent outbreaks. Others may experience an outbreak with every
menstrual period or whenever they are under stress, they have a fever or
other illness, or are exposed to UV light or sunlight. Some have very
little discomfort and others are decimated with every outbreak.
What surprised you most about the survey results?
I am most surprised by people's reluctance to acknowledge that it could
recur at the wrong time and the wrong place; generally, before a big
date, graduation dance, or your honeymoon.
Is stress a factor in outbreaks?
Stress is definitely a factor. Anxiety, fear, worry, an argument in the
family, job loss, financial problems, can definitely trigger an outbreak
of genital herpes.
Isn't genital herpes the most common STD?
No, genital herpes is not the most common. In all probability chlamydia
is the most common, but it is the easiest to diagnose, to treat, and to
cure. It is followed by human papillomavirus infection (HPV) or genital
If it's wet and oozy, it's possibly herpes. If it's painful, it's
possibly herpes. Dry, raised, painless bump, could possibly be warts.
See your doctor and don't have sexual contact with anybody until it has
been diagnosed and treated. For more information, go to
You can also visit the WebMD message boards and our sexual
How do you go about getting diagnosed and treated for an STD with no
Check with your local sexual health clinic or Planned Parenthood clinic.
Both are minimal cost.