July 2002 - 'Enjoy Sex' says HVA as it launches anti-stigma campaign
"Britain should grow up and enjoy sex safely", says Herpes
Viruses Association as it launches anti-stigma campaign
Nearly 80 per cent of people with genital herpes simplex are traumatised,
depressed or suicidal on diagnosis of what is medically an unimportant
virus that should not end their sex lives. These findings from The
Herpes Viruses Associations (HVA) new members survey announced today
at its annual general meeting highlight a significant problem.
Marian Nicholson, director of HVA, says: "We believe that the extreme
reactions on diagnosis of herpes simplex are related to the general attitude
of the public and the stigma that is unjustly associated with herpes."
The HVA is calling for Britain to Grow up and enjoy sex, as
it launches a new campaign to combat the stigma associated with the common
herpes simplex virus.
Dr Phil Hammond, specialist sexual health medicine, patron of HVA and
comedian, broke from his rehearsal for the Edinburgh Festival to say:
People are not open about sex in the UK and their immature attitude
to sexual health gives rise to the stigma. This results in misery
for the minority of the population who know they have the virus.
Ironically, this virus is very common and those people who dramatise or
make fun of herpes may also carry it unknowingly as they never
Patients imagine that a diagnosis of herpes simplex is a social
and sexual death sentence, largely because of the negative image created
around the virus - this must change. If people grow up and take
a more responsible attitude to sexual health, they will enjoy it more
and sexually transmitted infections will be easier to control.
Around 70% of the UK population carries herpes simplex virus type 1 or
2. The virus, which causes the blisters commonly known as facial
cold sores or genital herpes, does not cause symptoms in all people.
Most are unaware that they carry it.
Marian Nicholson, director of HVA, says: "The findings of this survey
confirms the experience of our helpline volunteers, who often advise and
support people who are severely depressed or suicidal."
People dont respond so drastically to a facial cold sore.
The virus is the same - the difference is sex. Our society is awash
with images of sex but many people are ignorant of the basic facts about
sexually transmitted infections and have no idea how to take care of and
maintain their own sexual health."
"One of the key aims of this charity is to help patients to realise
that their infection need not affect their lives negatively. It
is also vital that this message reaches everyone so that newly diagnosed
people escape the trauma suffered by too many today."
Most people do not have recurrent symptoms. For those who do, if
their recurrences are frequent or unacceptable, help is available from
the HVA, which gives advice on complementary treatments, or a doctor may
For further information, please contact:
Sandie Lowery or Maria Coogan
Ash Communications Healthcare
Ref: HVA/releases/AGM 2002 v3
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
The Herpes Viruses Association exists to promote better mental and physical
health with regard to the family of herpes viruses. Its aims are:
- To provide information to the public, to medical professionals and
to the media.
- To encourage the development of new treatments for herpes simplex.
- To tackle stigma and the unnecessary trauma associated with the condition.
Helpline: 0845 123 2305
Herpes simplex viruses types 1 and 2 traditionally affected the oral
(cold sores) and genital regions, respectively. This has changed
in recent years and both types are now associated with genital infection.
Preventative strategies need to address unprotected sex and orogenital
sex, which is also responsible for transmission.
1 Scoular A et al. BMJ 2002; 324:1366-7.