Aids Affairs: My girlfriend has genetal herpes

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November 03, 2015

Dear Counsellor:

I recently discovered that my girlfriend is infected with genital herpes. I love her very much. Although I'm not infected, I still want to be with her. Is it possible for me to continue to have sex with my girlfriend and not become infected?

Caring Lover

Dear Caring Lover:

The blisters and sores of genital herpes are highly contagious. The virus can pass on to others through contact, so avoid direct contact with the sores whenever your partner has an outbreak. If you take the following steps you may not become infected with herpes:

• No oral sex or genital contact when your partner has an outbreak of genital herpes.

• Encourage your partner to wash her hands with soap and water after touching the sores/blisters.

• Use condoms every time you have sex, this will not only decrease your chance of contracting genital herpes, but also other sexually transmitted infections including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Dear Counsellor:

I had itching and burning in my vagina. I also noticed something looking like a wart on the vagina. I would like to go to the doctor but I don't have any money. I told my boyfriend, but he said warts are all over the body and one on the vagina is not anything to worry about. Despite what my boyfriend told me, I am still uncomfortable. Is there something you could recommend that I buy from the pharmacy?

Concerned Girlfriend

Dear Concerned Girlfriend:

I cannot recommend that you buy treatment at the pharmacy. You must visit a health-care provider so that a proper examination and tests can be done. Based on your diagnosis, the doctor will prescribe treatment for you.

It is important for you to be examined by a doctor, even if the symptoms you are now seeing disappear. Visible symptoms of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) will disappear, even without treatment, but the germ remains in your body and can cause serious illness if left untreated.

There are several health centres/clinics that offer free health care. Please find one in your area so that you can be treated as soon as possible.

Please note that if you are diagnosed with a STI your boyfriend will need to be examined and treated as well. Remember, if you use a condom every time you have sex, your chances of getting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, will greatly reduced.

Dear Counsellor:

I keep getting vaginal infections (yeast infection). I'm tired of going to the doctor. The doctor tells me my infections are common and nothing to worry about. How can future vaginal infections be prevented? I have tried everything I know including douching at least once every week.

Confused

Dear Confused:

The following guidelines may help to reduce your chance of getting repeated vaginal infections:

• Avoid douching. Douching upsets the normal balance in the vagina and might lead to the development of vaginal infection.

• Avoid using perfumed soaps and feminine hygiene sprays. They can irritate the vagina.

• Wipe from front to back, especially after a bowel movement, to avoid spreading bacteria from the rectum to the vagina.

• Avoid tight, hot clothing that can trap moisture and create a good growth environment for infections.

• Wash the genital area daily

• Ask your health-care provider about treatment for your partner.

Dear Counsellor:

I have been married for the last 10 years. Things got really bad financially and so I went abroad and have been working there for three years. I returned home last month only to find out that my husband tested HIV positive. He went to take out an insurance policy and that is how he found out. At first, I was frightened, sad and I hated myself, because I felt responsible for my husband's infection, even though I'm sure that I'm not the one who infected him.

Despite coming here often during the three years and my husband understanding why I had to seek employment overseas I still felt responsible. I'm pregnant and very happy to have a baby for my husband. Will my baby become infected with HIV?

Worried Wife

Dear Worried Wife:

The feelings you had when you learnt about your husband's HIV status was natural. However, counselling would help you cope with those feelings. Yes, your baby stands a chance of becoming infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, if you are infected. You will need to seek immediate medical attention and counselling. If you seek medical attention early and find out you are infected, there are treatments you can get to prevent your baby from becoming infected with HIV.

Please be sure to use condoms every time you have sex, so that if you are not infected you won't become infected or, if you are infected, you won't be re-infected. Remember that although you may have been exposed to HIV through your infected husband, that does not mean that you are infected also.

For more information on condom use, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, call the AIDS/STD Helpline at 967-3830, 967-3764 or toll free

1888-991-4444 or write to AIDS Affairs, c/o the Star, 7 North, Kingston.

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