Viral diseases

Although in other parts of the world such as the sub-Saharan African, stigmatization has been taken as a means to prevent the spread of STD’s and STIs. Those who are already infected have been left to feel as being socially misfit and in the end delay to seek medical attention. Others delay to seek good medical care while seeking traditional healers medical attention, although the traditional treatment of STIs have not been proven whether they work or not (O’Farrell, 2002) Stigma has been found to directly or indirectly affect the willingness of the patient to be treated in a public clinic for STI infections (Lichtenstein, 2003).

Herpes like many other viral diseases has no treatment. But using antiretroviral drugs can shorten and prevent the outbreaks when the patient uses the medication. By doing a suppressive therapy on a daily basis can also reduce transmission from one partner to another. Therefore, the only best way to deal with herpes is through prevention. Prevention can be by avoiding unsafe sexual activities, i. e. maintaining a monogamous sexual relationship with a tested partner or the use of latex condom.

The use of latex condoms cannot guarantee the prevention of herpes transmission as the latex cannot cover the whole infected parts of the body. But if properly used, the latex can prevent the infection to a higher degree. Whenever the lesions of infection are present, the infected partner should abstain from sexual activity with the uninfected partner. Though, it has to be understood that the disease can still be transmitted from the infected partner to a healthy partner even during the time when the symptoms are not present. There are three main ways of managing herpes.

This is through drug therapy (holistic therapy), herbal medicine treatment or decide not to treat the disease at all. Drug therapy is the most expensive management system, and has got some side effects that can be detrimental to the health of the patients. It also doesn’t build up the immune system of the body. Some people decide to stay without seeking any medical attention, which is very unethical. This will also endanger others by not treating the disease as well as increasing the chances of being infected by other diseases such as HIV, HPV and other viral illness.

Holistic therapy has no proven disadvantage hence it is the best for managing herpes problem. “Holistic therapy is just as effective if not more effective as drug therapy”, (Scipio, 2006 para 2). Holistic therapy helps the body to build the immune system that can assist the body to fight against other sexually transmitted diseases and illnesses related to the immune system, such as cancer. This can not be achieved by the drug therapy. In using holistic therapy it can assist the patient to cope with the emotional and psychological impact of having the infection which also the drug cannot manage.

In managing the viral infection, one of the recent researches from (http://www. herpesalliance. org/International%20Herpes%20Week%202004%20Press%20Release%20. pdf) has shown that the use of suppressive therapy with a commonly prescribed antiviral can substantially reduce the risk of passing genital herpes on to uninfected partner when combined with regular use of latex condoms. For this reason, it is important that people know whether they, or their partner have been infected with the HSV virus so that they can discuss the options available in terms of treatment and prevention of transmission, (pp 2).

Those who have discovered that they have been infected with the disease also finds it hard to inform their past partners because of fear of being viewed negatively, or when they do not want to cause emotional harm to such partners. A respondent in a survey carried out had one respondent replying that “I don’t know how long ago I got it, so why go back and tell four or five different men from the past ten years who may not have anything? And then (they have) this bad image of me,” (Melville, et al 2003, pp 3).

There are various means of testing Herpes infection, the common being by viral culture of lesion. The test relies on the presence of lesions when the patient visits the clinic. The test has to pick enough viruses to detect. However, the negative results cannot just rule out the infection. Blood test can also be used to test the infection of the Herpes virus. This however, is limited by the fact that the antibodies can take up to 3 months to appear after being exposed to the virus. The test is used to look for any Herpes Virus HSV-1 or HSV-2.

It can thus detect the Herpes cold sores in a patient but be unable to detect the genital herpes. Another common form of blood test is the western Blot. This blood test is capable of differentiating between the HSV-1 and HSV-2 herpes in a patient. Pregnant mothers who have had the virus recurring at various occasions have no much danger of exposing the newborns to the virus. This is because the child is automatically protected by the antibodies transferred from the mothers. The problem is when the husband has got the herpes virus while the expectant mother has never had it.

If the infection occurs for the first time during this pregnancy, special treatment has to be followed to avoid infecting the baby. In avoiding also putting the child at risk of being infected, when the husband knows that he has been infected and the wife has never had the infection for first time, it is recommended that any form of sex is avoided during the last 12 weeks of pregnancy. The other form of managing herpes infection is through education and acceptance, Education is trying to get a lot of information that relates to herpes.

This is through reading materials that are written by the ant-retroviral producers, website materials and talking to experts such as doctors on the issues related to the disease. Acceptance implies that the infected person had to agree that the disease will be part of their life. It does not have to be that the whole world needs to know that the individuals are infected, but it is important to be honest with the people who can be affected by the situation. These are the sexual partners. (May, 2007).

“There are many social reasons for delaying or avoiding care. Lack of knowledge of resources, fear of judgment on the part of the usual care provider, concern about confidentiality cost, and the diagnostic process all mitigate against young person’s seeking immediate care for STD-related problems,” (Campos-Outcast, pp 165). Due to the nature that STD’s carry the stigma; it makes young people to avoid visiting health centers to receive medication. STD problem may be made worse when the youth do not have any other source of medical care.

At most instances, when the youth are diagnosed with STD’s they tend to seek medical attention from the public sector’s clinics or family planning service providers rather than going to their primary health care providers due to fear and stigmatization. The health care providers have to develop a means of asking patients questions to know the problem or else, the youth may not even reveal the real reason or situations that they are facing hence end up receiving poor medical care. Social stigma about Herpes arises especially when a person tries to view how others see them.

“One reason that genital herpes raises issues of social stigma is the fact that as a society we are just beginning to feel comfortable talking about sex and sexuality in general,’ (asha, 1999 para 5). The society has become more open in discussion of topics concerned with sex. This is through advertisements, entertainment and many sex images found in the society. Many surveys have shown that the society is becoming more aware of the topic. “Perhaps the day will come when even the idea of social stigma will be a distant memory.

(asha 1999). The stigma associated with genital herpes is different from the oral herpes. Oral herpes is only referred to as cold sores, while genital herpes is known as herpes. A Large majority of those who have genital herpes (80%) do not know that they have it, as they have not experienced any symptoms, or if they have, then they have not recognized the symptoms. Transmission has been increased especially with those who have been infected and do not know or that the disease can still be transmitted when there is no outbreak.

Transmission has as well increased by the fact that many partners do not want to disclose the information to their partners due to stigmatization associated with the disease (Otta, 2003). Many people prefer to go for home testing of herpes rather than going to the doctors in the hospitals to be tested. Testing for herpes at home has had a rising demand among customers in the market. When the instructions for testing herpes at home using kit are followed well, the results can be very accurate (http://www. forces-of-nature. net/topics/herpes/Testing_At_Home_For_Genital_Herpes. htm).

People have taken moves in undertaking tests for herpes at home due to the fact that there has been increased awareness of the disease among citizens. Many of the people use the home tests of herpes do so to avoid embarrassment. This is also because of the confidentiality the system has to the patient before going to the doctor. The problem with this method is that a person can jump into medication after self testing instead of seeking the opinion of the doctor before starting to take drugs. Conclusion Despite how common genital herpes is, it still carries a big social stigma.

Stigmatization of herpes ranks the second after HIV Aids. According to the survey done online by Hitti, (2007), the results showed that “among the genital Herpes patients, 39 per cent said they were troubled by societal stigma about genital herpes. Far more genital herpes patients- 75% were troubled by bothersome symptoms of genital herpes outbreak,” (para 7). In the same research most of the correspondents who were negative admitted that they would avoid having relationships with people who are herpes positive, and others feel that they would break up with their partners when they find that the partners had herpes infection.

This shows how many people are not yet ready to associate themselves with those who are found to be infected with genital Herpes. Most of these people feel that the infected people are not straight forward in the community. In many cases, stigma more than shame is a barrier to those seeking medical attention for STD related cases. Many of the barriers that are related with the STD stigma cannot be removed by increasing knowledge or health care services.

Stigmatization can thus be reduced by “community wide interactions, advocacy, and education might be expected to achieve some gains, although the (not uncommon) opinion that acknowledgement and discussion of issues such as STD/HIV prevention connote approval of prescribed sexual behavior makes such approaches difficult to implement,”. (Fotenberry et all, 2003 para 6). References American Social Health Association (asha) (1999): Herpes Resource Center-Emotional Issues, Retrieved on 21st November 2007 http://www. ashastd. org/herpes/herpes_emotional. cfm

Herpes stigma affects both the infected and uninfected. “The stigma associated with genital herpes may influence a person’s decision to seek care or disclose the infection to others,” (Fortenberry, 2004). For those who have not yet been infected, the stigma …

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