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 STD .

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 purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Please tell us about the new survey commissioned by the National Women's Health Resource Center.

JOHANSON:
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.

MODERATOR:
Why do you suppose that is?

JOHANSON:
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.

MEMBER QUESTION:
But don't they have genital herpes every day? It isn't just when you have outbreaks. It is with you for life.

JOHANSON:
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.

MODERATOR:
What surprised you most about the survey results?

JOHANSON:
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.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Is stress a factor in outbreaks?

JOHANSON:
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.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Isn't genital herpes the most common STD?

JOHANSON:
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 warts.

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 genitalherpes.com.

MODERATOR:
You can also visit the WebMD message boards and our sexual health center.

MEMBER QUESTION:
How do you go about getting diagnosed and treated for an STD with no medical insurance?

JOHANSON:
Check with your local sexual health clinic or Planned Parenthood clinic. Both are minimal cost.