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Herpes


Mark Arbour

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No, I don't have it.

 

I started writing my next installment, set in 1980. The big STD fear in 1980 was Herpes. If you got it, you'd get sores on your dick, or your mouth, or both. It wouldn't kill you, but it might be painful, it was certainly inconvenient, and once you got it, it was FOREVER. Not like gonorrhea, which you could treat with antibiotics. No, if you got Herpes, it would be with you forever. And that meant that when you meant that special someone, you couldn't just have sex, you had to have "the Herpes Conversation" (according to a friend of mine who got it.) That concept of having a disease that you couldn't ever get rid of, that would plague you forever, was just horrifying.

 

Then in 1981/82 AIDS came along and made Herpes seem almost comical. So what if you've got some viral infection that flares up every once in a while and is an inconvenience. It doesn't kill you. A whole new paradigm, a whole new fear.

 

So why am I rambling on about it? Because AIDS has had such an impact on me (and presumably on society) I'm having a tough time getting my mind back to that time when Herpes was the ultimate in nasty STDs. It just seems so trite now.

 

I think if I started a relationship with someone and they told me they had Herpes (or HPV) I'd be careful, a little nervous, but it wouldn't be a deal killer. I think HIV would be. I think. Does that make me a bad person? Grrrrr.

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It doesn't make you a bad person. Just someone who doesn't want to increase the AIDS death toll. The fact that you angst over it means you're actually a good person. :)

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