While skimming through the pages of the June issue of Essence magazine, I stumbled upon a statistic that took me aback. According to the CDC, 40% of African-American adults have the virus that causes genital herpes. If you are not exactly familiar with genital herpes, let a sista shed some knowledge on you. Genital herpes is a STD (sexually transmitted disease) also referred to as a STI (sexually transmitted infection) that according to MedicineNet.Com, is transmitted through intimate contact with the mucous-covered linings of the mouth, the vagina, or the genital skin. Once infected with genital herpes, an outbreak usually begins within two weeks of the initial infection and manifests as an itching or tingling sensation followed by redness of the skin. Finally, a blister forms. People with genital herpes have recurrent outbreaks. here is no cure for genital herpes. Only treatment is available for the outbreaks that occur. Once you get genital herpes, you have it for life.
According to the CDC, having genital herpes can double the risk of contracting HIV.
As I continued to migrate through this article that had now captivated my attention, I read about this self-proclaimed attractive and successful business man who became infected with genital herpes. After being infected, this man went on to have sex with 20 women, only telling 2 of them that he had genital herpes. Despite having genital herpes, this man used condoms only half the time. Check out what he had to say in his own words.
“Sometimes my girlfriend would want sex when I was having an outbreak. I couldn’t arouse any suspicion by saying no, so I would have sex with my boxers on to conceal where the blisters were located. If she asked why, I’d say, “Oh, it’s just a fantasy I have.”
This article indeed took me down memory lane. You see, I was 19-years-old the first time I had sex. And the first, the second, and the third time and etc…. it was unprotected sex. I thought I was being smart because I knew I was going to have sex and I got on birth control pills two months prior to my first sexually encounter. My only concern at that time was that I didn’t want to get pregnant. The fact that I didn’t practice safe sex was beyond foolish and proved that I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. I later discovered that the person I was having sex with wasn’t just having sex with me, but he had multiple sex partners.
I was lucky and I never became infected with anything. But my advice to you today is, be smart, and practice safe sex. You may not be so lucky…
To learn more about genital herpes, visit www.medicinenet.com. To see how this Essence story ends, check out the June issue of Essence magazine, page 82.