Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Saurabh Sethi, MD, MPH
The herpes simplex virus (HSV), typically referred to as herpes, is a sexually-transmitted disease characterized by sores or lesions at the area of infection. The two primary types of herpes are oral herpes, which causes cold sores around the mouth, and genital herpes, which causes sores and lesions on and around the genitals. There are also different types of herpes which affect other parts of the body.
HSV1 is the type of herpes that often causes cold sores, but it can also cause genital herpes. HSV2 is often the cause of genital herpes, but it can also cause infection of the mouth/face.
The herpes simplex virus spreads through sexual and sometimes non-sexual contact from a person with the virus to a person without the virus. Unfortunately, many people with herpes never experience symptoms but can still pass the infection to others. When people have symptoms, they are called outbreaks. Outbreaks typically occur a few times a year. Those who have outbreaks may experience pain, discomfort, and/or itching caused by sores or lesions at the infection site. Medications can be used to ease symptoms and decrease the frequency of outbreaks, but there is no cure for herpes.
Statistics on Herpes
Genital herpes and other sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) are becoming increasingly common in the United States and across the globe. In fact, herpes is one of the most common STDs. Though the rates of genital herpes have declined in recent years, the overall trend in STD rates is still on the rise, with HSV1 affecting approximately 50-80% of the population and HSV2 affecting approximately 15-20% of the population. It is clear that herpes, as well as other STDs, continue to be a major issue affecting society.
The Link between STDs and Dating Apps
As society has shifted toward using mobile apps and technology in almost every aspect of life, many people believe a connection between STDs and dating apps has emerged. People are busy, working hard to make a successful living. That means more people are using dating apps, like Tinder, to meet people and start relationships. However, correlation does not equal causation, and there is no research indicating that the use of dating apps has led to an increase in STDs. Many believe that dating apps are bad for sexual health due to casual intimacy and lack of disclosure, but those dating behaviors began long before the rise in dating apps.
Casual Intimacy and Lack of Disclosure
Casual intimacy, or hookup culture, has made it easier for people to meet and engage in casual sex. When people hookup with one another, there is often no expectation of a relationship or even ongoing contact. These casual relationships don’t always include safer sex practices, and that can lead to a lack of disclosure about one’s STD status. Quite often, people consider STD status and sexual history to be a private matter, so they don’t want to share that information with a sexual partner they have no intention of having a relationship with. Along similar lines, many people are embarrassed about their status. They don’t want to disclose that they have an STD or have never been tested and risk being stigmatized by a potential partner[s].
The Importance of Education about STDs
People attempting to draw a link between herpes and dating apps has led to a need for increased education about STDs. It is through better education that the rate of STDs can decrease and people can live healthier, happier lives. Two key components of this education must be knowledge of symptoms and breaking the stigma of herpes testing and treatment, as well as all STD testing and treatment.
Knowledge of Symptoms
Even though not everyone has symptoms of herpes, there are signs of herpes and other STDs that can be used to determine whether someone should be tested and seeking medical advice. However, if people don’t know the symptoms, they can’t get help when they need it. Raising awareness of the symptoms of STDs may help encourage people to seek medical attention so they can be treated.
Breaking the Stigma of Testing and Treatment
Another important component of education should be breaking the stigma of testing and treatment. Many people decide not to get tested because they are embarrassed that they may have contracted an STD. The same is true with seeking treatment. However, getting tested and seeking treatment show that people care about their health and the health of their sexual partners. Instead of being a source of embarrassment, getting tested and seeking treatment should be celebrated as being a smart and healthy decision for one’s health.
If you think you are showing signs of herpes or another sexually transmitted disease, STDCheck is an app that can help you get in touch with a physician for diagnosis and treatment of herpes.
– – – –
Did this help you identify your symptoms? Do you still have questions about diagnosis and treatment, or would you like to share your experience using STDCheck? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!