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Have you ever worried about whether or not you have herpes? I’m pretty sure everyone who is sexually active in college has, meaning only cave-dwelling engineers and computer scientists are safe from its viral wrath–unless it managed to evolve a computer virus version and their holographic girlfriends have it. Then everyone is fucked. Well, according to a new study, about 70 percent of Americans ages 14 to 19 have the herp. That’s right. Seventy. Motherfucking. Percent. Seventy percent of Americans can’t be found in almost any other category. Seventy percent of Americans probably couldn’t put all 50 states on a map, but they can sure as hell all have herpes, apparently.
Before you go and seal your dick in a pathogen-proof supercondom, let me school you a bit on biology. Herpes has two major forms we’d want to worry about: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 primarily causes cold sores around and in your mouth. HSV-2 primarily causes the one that keeps you from getting laid. Each strain can cause both types infections though, meaning that chick with the cold sores who gave you a beej last week could have given you genital warts, too. The thing is, most people infected by HSV-1 and HSV-2 don’t actually show symptoms. It’s a virus with an incredibly high silent infection rate, meaning you’re more likely to be a carrier with no symptoms other than the occasional cold sore or weird ingrown hair than you are to have your crotch look like your face circa junior high when your acne peaked.
For a bit more education, most health centers don’t test for herpes. You have to request a special screen for it, because screening for viruses is hard and they need a blood sample to determine if your body is presenting any kind of anti-herp immune response. The FDA actually recommends you don’t test for it, because it’s not actually treatable with drugs, and you can’t get rid of it once you have it since it integrates itself into your own cells.
The big take homes here are that herpes sucks, the chance of having it goes up with age, and that most likely you’ll get infected silently until you pass it on to some poor sap who presents the worst set of symptoms ever.
Stop freaking out so much about it, guys. There’s a better than 50 percent chance you already have it and are fine. If you’re one of the unlucky few, um…find a good antibiotic and break out the acne cream?