Herpes Nation Newsletter Volume One, Edition Four
Amber Madison is a twenty-two-year-old Tufts University graduate and former sex columnist for the Tufts Daily newspaper and author of “Hooking Up: A Girls’ All-Out Guide to Sex and Sexuality”.
Having grown up with parents who always talked openly about sex, she was determined to provide girls with comprehensive and accurate information about their sexual health and deliver it in an entertaining and humorous way. The book is hilarious, uninhibited, and full of must-have knowledge about safer sex and sexuality. Hooking Up gives frank talk on a slew of meaningful issues concerning sexual activity and intimacy, and addresses the emotional aspects that textbooks so often ignore. Revealing her own experiences and often humorous mishaps, Amber covers topics including: vaginas, masturbation, virginity, orgasms, sex acts, STDs, contraception, condom use, pregnancy, sexual assault, body image, relationships, and homosexuality.
We talked recently to Amber about “Hooking Up”.
Q: What motivated you to write “Hooking Up”?
They say that your professional pursuits are really an attempt to resolve your own internal conflicts, and that’s what attracted me to studying sexuality. I started writing a sex column because I wanted to fix things for other girls that I knew needed to be fixed for myself. I developed early, looked old for my age, and before I had even thought about having sex, everything I did was sexualized. I needed to understand how I wanted sex to fit into my life, and I needed reassurance that it was under my control.
My column tackled many issues: female sexuality, relationships, and of course STDs and contraception. The more columns I wrote, the more questions I got. And the more questions I got, the more I understood how desperate girls are for explanations about their bodies, information about sex, and reassurance that their experiences are normal. Even in college, many sexually active girls don’t have a good grasp on how to protect their reproductive health, or have enough confidence to negotiate sexual relationships on their own terms. And I didn’t have to extrapolate what it was like for girls in high school; I remember. Girls grow up bombarded with images of sexuality, but at the same time, few are willing to actually talk with them about sex. I believe that sex can be a normal and healthy part of a young woman’s development. But at the same time, sex is full of complex issues, and without an open discussion, girls end up confused.
Young people don’t get a lot of straightforward information about sex, and I wanted to write something to “fill in the holes” so to speak of their sex education. I wanted to tackle issues of sexuality from all sides, emotional and psychological, and give more than just facts. I also wanted to write something to address teen’s real questions and speak to them in language they could relate to.
Q: What are the top three questions about sexuality that young women come to you with?
The want to know why they do not enjoy sex or have an easier time having an orgasm; how guys and girls are different in terms or what they want out of sex and relationships; and what they should do if their partner doesn’t like condoms.
Q: How much do young women (and young men, for that matter) know about STDs and safer sex in general?
Young people seem to know some facts about STDs, but not everything they need to know to keep themselves safe. One myth that’s very prevalent is that if someone has an STD you’d be able to see it. Many young people I talk with seem shocked that the majority of STDs show no visible signs or symptoms. Also, they put too much stock into the claim “I’ve been tested,” and don’t know to follow up with questions like “tested for what,” and “how long ago.”
Q: And how about herpes in particular? What myths prevail?
Very few people know that someone could be carrying the herpes virus but never have a manifestation of the symptoms. I think people don’t understand how common the herpes virus actually is.
Q: I’ve read reports recently suggesting that young girls are easily convinced by their peers to give oral sex because “it isn’t really sex” and they often perform fellatio unprotected. What do you hear as you speak in schools?
I think that our society puts a lot of weight on vaginal intercourse, especially in regards to whether or not you are a virgin, and what it means to abstain from sex. I’ve never met anyone who felt that they weren’t a virgin after having oral sex, and for that reason many people don’t consider it “real sex.” Also, while many girls feel comfortable demanding a condom when having sexual intercourse, they don’t feel as comfortable demanding it for oral sex, simply because they do not see it as the norm.
Q: We hear so much lately about the early sexualization of girls by the media, including fashion and the cult of celebrity. In your experience, what effect is this phenomenon having on girls and young women these days?
It’s a huge issue. In my experience young women present themselves as very sexual because they see it everywhere, but at the same time, don’t really understand what they are doing and what image they are portraying.
Q: What is the best advice you could give young women today? And what would you like to tell their parents?
The best advice I could give young women is to really tune into what their body and mind is telling them about the sexual decisions they are making, and to stick closely with what they truly want – not what their partners want, what their friends are doing, or having sex to fill some other sort of void. To parents – talk to your kids. It’s not going to make them more likely to do it, but it is going to give them guidance.
Q: Any advice to us in the Herpes Nation? How can we best educate young people about herpes and STDs?
I think the best way to educate teens about sex is to talk to them like they’re real people–not irrational beings overrun with hormones. Really listen to what they are telling you, and address those needs, and make clear that you are there only to help them, not to judge them in any way.
Sounds like your book will go a long way to helping us take that advice. Thanks, Amber.
It’s Never Too Late
by Christoper Scipio
Teens aren’t the only sexually active population in need of education regarding herpes and STDs. According to research in the journal of Sexually Transmitted Infections, the rates of sexually transmitted infections have doubled among the over 45 population in less than a decade.
The most commonly diagnosed infection among the over 45s was genital warts, accounting for almost half of the episodes. Herpes was the next most common, accounting for almost one in five. Cases of Chlamydia, herpes, warts, gonorrhea and syphilis all rose sharply.
People over 45 going into new relationships, perhaps after the death or divorce of their partner should discuss having safer sex. Baby boomers should talk about what they have and have not been tested for.
Boomers Need to Get Tested
It’s just as important for sexually active Baby Boomers to get tested and then be honest with prospective partners, as it is for their kids. Baby boomers don’t typically go into the doctor’s office for a herpes test, and if they do, its sometimes difficult to convince their medical doctor to do the blood test required. This is crazy, because only about 30 percent of the people infected, whatever their age group, know that they are infected. Sexual activity for boomers does not have to stop after a positive diagnosis. It doesn’t have to be doom and gloom, you just have to be straightforward. Precautions such as condoms or an antiviral gel or lubricant can help lower the chances of transmitting the virus.
Be Honest About STDs I often deal with people who are angry, embarrassed and ashamed, but I want to remind you again that you are the same person you were before the diagnosis. ‘Don’t be a victim. You are not less attractive, less funny, less moral … It shouldn’t change your life. Being honest is imperative, though. People are going to be impressed that you are being honest. They are going to be glad that you had the guts to tell them. In the 19 years of being infected, I have not had one person not want to be in a relationship with me because of herpes.
Herpes and Me
by Linden Morris
My history with Herpes has been pretty brief. I am not entirely sure when I contracted HSV and to this day I am not entirely sure who gave it to me. Although I believe it was within the context of an intimate relationship. In the beginning I felt better about that; like there was some kind of moral high ground associated with how I contracted my virus. In hindsight, of course, that notion is patently ridiculous.
My HSV has been a journey of evolution regarding my thinking re: sexuality and how I relate to the virus. Ultimately, Herpes has shown me my humanness and my fallibility, my defensiveness, my lack of thoughtful evolution at times (especially in the beginning) It has also taught me how to be a little grander in my humanness and how to sort out what I think matters and what doesn’t matter in the bigger picture called life. Getting herpes has challenged many of my preconceived notions about myself and others. It has held “my hand to the fire” in terms of what I said and what I did and how that all lined up.
Initially, I went through what I am guessing is the usual shock, disbelief and denial most people go through. I remember very clearly, getting some sores on my panty line in the back and thinking that it was just simple chafing that was causing a skin problem. Forget that I never have had unusually sensitive skin and never an open sore! That level of denial, frankly, blows my mind when I look back on it. Unfortunately, there is no denying that that is what happened. It was probably about a year after that that I actually received a diagnosis of HSV II. It was a bad day. Initially, I tried some of the medicines available to treat Herpes and was simply not able to tolerate them…a blessing in disguise, although not recognized as such at that time. My treatment at that time was abstinence. I noticed I would get outbreaks around my period or if I was in the sun too much. It also seemed that stress could sometimes precipitate an attack.
I hated my outbreaks. They were uncomfortable, painful at times and from start to finish (usually 2-3 long weeks) a reminder to me of all the things I had failed at in life. I don’t know about other people but my Herpes Infection seemed to gnaw at ever issue I ever might have had; bringing them all to the surface to be lassoed together and fed into the machinery of my mind. Creating what I commonly referred to as “Low Self Esteem or Self Hatred 101” Who would ever want me like this? I didn’t even want me like this! Had I not been dealt enough difficulties in my life? Now this! We are all familiar with that line of thinking and I seemed to have it in spades.
Eventually, I found myself in an intimate relationship and knew that I needed to get some treatment. My partner was less than sympathetic and of course worried about getting the virus from me. I knew about Christopher Scipio from researching alternative treatments for Herpes and started to use his formulations and to follow his advice. I remember in the beginning of my treatments I was plagued with several things: Lack of patience, persistent prodrome (although very few outbreaks) and a sensitivity to some of Christopher’s treatments that made me not always able to partake of some of the remedies. I have to say that once I “knuckled down” things just gradually began to fall into place. I was diligent in my weekly updates with Christopher. Good thing that I was. As I updated him on my progress, he was able to fine tune my Herpes Protocol Treatment. He also made many alternative suggestions when I was having reactions to something or it appeared that something could work better.
I think I needed a progression of time to adjust to the changes I needed to make. For me, I seemed to turn a big corner with my Herpes treatment when I tightened up my diet. Never a caffeine drinker, that was not a problem. I remember Christopher asking me, after a nasty outbreak just after Christmas if I was adhering to a Herpes diet. I went back and reviewed what I was doing. Nuts were a problem as was chocolate, sugar and gelatine. I became vigilant. I also added daily portions of friendly “non outbreak” food items that helped. Although my “Treatment Protocol” is always evolving there are certain food items that I have just eliminated from my diet. I have recently found that small doses of some of the foods that I really love have not caused my virus to resurface. I also listened to the Hypnosis CD’s diligently in the beginning and cycle back to them when I am feeling that I need a tune up.
Where am I at now? Well, I still continue to work on my acceptance of a lifelong relationship with this virus called Herpes. I know and accept that it is not going to go away. I have outbreaks from time to time. Within the context of an intimate relationship my biggest struggle has been not having outbreaks due to friction from sexual activity. I am happy that in the last year I have only had two outbreaks and I am sexually active. My partner does not have any signs of the virus. Christopher’s treatment protocols, knowledge and support have played a huge part in my cohabiting with my virus in a way that I experience as pretty workable.
I still do not like outbreaks, but now I have very significant amounts of time where I am outbreak free. I have had to work on accepting this virus in a more positive way. I identify myself as a person with Herpes. My family and friends now knows I have the virus. I do not fly a banner about my HSV condition, but conversely, I do not hide it. My HSV has not been the end of my world. It has been a learning experience which has added to my inner dialogue.
Of all of my experiences which include the good, the bad and the mundane, herpes has now been given a voice. It has most certainly had its good and bad moments, although on most days it is not a worry and occupies the “mundane column” in the file system of my mind.
Herpes Nation Newsletter Volume One, Edition Five
Tis The Season
The Other “C” Word
No matter what you call it – Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Diwali, or nothing at all – the “most wonderful” time of the year will soon be upon us. Try as you will to ignore it, Christmas is part of the cultural soup we all swim in. Best to learn how to stay afloat, and maybe even to ride the wave of holiday celebration and togetherness. There is peace and joy to be found at this time of year, but it’s up to you to keep the spirit alive.
It’s more important now more than ever to practice what you have spent the whole year learning. Meditate, practice your deep-breathing and self-hypnosis exercises, keep practicing yoga or tai-chi, or any other activity that helps you balance your body, mind, and spirit. Stay in touch with nature and the beauty of this time of year by going outside.
Let health be the gift you give yourself and others this year. Change up some of your holiday traditions. Make relaxation your focus as you resist the expectations of others and do things your own way this year.
This edition of the News is devoted to helping you have a herpes-free, healthy holiday. It will provide you with the tools, motivation, and inspiration to do just that. We encourage you to break with tradition and do things differently this year – or simply adapt, re-use and re-cycle old traditions to make them fit your new lifestyle.
Remember what Rinpoche said…”the opportunity to experience yourself differently always exists.”
One Woman’s Story
Jane still remembers the day, many years ago. She had been feeling a strange, prickly, stinging sensation around her genitals, the source of which seemed to be a strange bump. She visited the doctor, expressing a concern that she might have herpes. The doctor said it sounded more like an ingrown hair to him, but he took a swab of the area and sent the test off to a lab. Jane never got a call, so assumed everything was fine. Every so often since, she has been plagued by this familiar stinging sensation.
In the last few years, Jane noticed a sharp increase in the frequency of her mysterious outbreaks. “It was just last year, over eleven years after that first visit, that I finally went to another doctor about this again,” says Jane. “’Looks like herpes to me’ said my doctor. I was stunned, but in my guts, I think I knew it all along. Or at least, I knew it wasn’t just ingrown hairs” Like many people, Jane had been misdiagnosed, or rather, not diagnosed at all, and had been living with herpes, a lifelong viral infection.
It isn’t uncommon for swab tests to come back negative for herpes virus. “My doctor explained that the virus lives in my central nervous system, and could come to the surface of my skin at the point where it originally entered, at any time. During that time, it is contagious, but the thing is, it is impossible to know when that is. They could be at the surface, and I wouldn’t have an outbreak. On the other hand, I might get an outbreak, but by the time I make it in to the doctor for a swab test, the virus has retreated back to its hiding place.”
“There is a huge stigma around genital herpes,” says Jane. “I remember right after I first found out that was what I really had, a friend was making fun of people with herpes. I felt so humiliated, but angry at his ignorance. It wasn’t like I was a slut. Anyone could get this. Yet I was still too new to it, too ashamed feeling, and I didn’t speak up to defend myself. […] I see people all the time with sores on their mouth, and no one even cares. But sores on your genitals is a whole other story, even if it’s the same virus!”
Jane doesn’t know who she got herpes from. Because of her misdiagnosis, she doesn’t remember the exact time frame, but it was around the end of one relationship and the beginning of another. “I was always monogamous, and I would use a condom, at least at first in a relationship. But I would usually end up having unprotected sex with boyfriends. I think most people do, once they get to know someone and feel safe.” None of Jane’s boyfriends ever had visible symptoms of herpes, and none ever mentioned it. “I suspect it was one of two people who I got it from,” says Jane. “The one guy was just a short term fling, and I have no idea where he is now. The other guy, I went out with for two years, and I don’t remember him ever getting an outbreak. I am afraid of asking him, so many years later, if he is infected. If he is, did I give it to him, or did I get it from him? I just don’t know.”
It is commonly believed that stress increases the frequency of outbreaks. While scientific studies on the topic are inconclusive, Jane has noticed it to be true. “My outbreaks increased after a death in my family, and I think I also had some post-partum depression. For a long time, I barely remember even having outbreaks, but it was this sudden increase in outbreaks that sent me to the doctor about it again.”
Jane now treats her herpes with herbal remedies and tries to maintain a positive attitude. “When I was first diagnosed, I felt so dirty and disgusting,” says Jane, “but now, I almost see this virus as a friend, one that comes along to teach me a lesson. If I stay healthy, I am fine, but if I let my immune system get run down, sure enough, I get a sore.”
Jane has noticed that things like a lack of sleep or poor diet contribute to herpes outbreaks, as does anxiety and anger. “One time, I had a minor little sore. I remember getting really angry that day. I was yelling at my kids and feeling super stressed out about some things in my life. When I got home, the sore was really raw and bleeding. It sounds gross, I know, but it was telling me something. Getting freaked out about stress isn’t worth it.” Jane takes herbs like St. John’s Wort and Lemon Balm, both of which are known for easing depression and calming moods, as well as being anti-viral. “I know there are some pharmaceutical anti-viral treatments that some people find success with, but I thought I’d try natural remedies first.” Nothing will ever take away the virus, but through taking care of herself, Jane has managed to greatly reduce the frequency of outbreaks.
Christopher Scipio encourages anyone with herpes to take treatment into their own hands. He acknowledges that there are some very affective drug therapies for treating herpes, however he maintains that a better understanding of your body is most important, and popping a pill will never get you that. He also expresses concern about some of the so-called natural cures being promoted for herpes, warning that products like lysine and di-methyl-sulfoxide can do more harm than good, especially with long-term use.
“Real management of herpes means strengthening your immune system so that it can keep the virus in check which is what your body is designed to do,” writes Scipio in one of his many articles on the topic. It also means making the effort to eat an appropriate diet, managing your stress levels, and working on your emotional and mental relationship with the disease.”
It is important for anyone with herpes, be it on their mouth or genitals, to tell their partners that they are at risk of getting herpes. Condoms alone don’t prevent it, as sores can occur in areas around the genitals, areas a condom doesn’t cover. And for the record, it is a myth that herpes are only contagious when there is an active sore present. “Most people with herpes, maybe up to 70% don’t get noticeable outbreaks,” says Scipio. “You may be having sub-clinical (subtle) outbreaks or may be shedding virus asymptomatically (without symptoms). You could be infecting others with herpes without knowing it.” As Jane said, none of her partners ever exhibited symptoms that she noticed, and yet she caught it somehow.
“The biggest challenge for people, I think”, says Jane, “is how to be sexually active. For me, I’m already married. My husband isn’t scared because he figures he’s already got it, or else will never get it. But I can’t imagine being single and having this.” Scipio points out that judging someone for having herpes is the same as judging them for their race, physical ability, or some other thing they have no control over. He says of his clients that “some are so shaken by [rejection] that they stop dating for years or ghettoize themselves to only dating others with herpes.” He goes on to point out that “herpes is a great litmus test to let you know who really cares about you and desires you. No one who really wants a person, and I do mean wants the whole person and the package that comes with them, will reject them just because they have herpes. Who would want that kind of superficial love anyways?”
We know that stress has a negative effect on the immune system, so it should come as no surprise that December would see an increase in the number of herpes outbreaks. It’s ironic that December is also the time when people allow themselves to become “too busy” to keep up their self-care routines or to eat healthy food. Before you let that happen, think about the points below.
1) Let go.
Resist being a perfectionist when it comes to gift giving and entertaining. Prioritize your TO DO list and don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t measure your efforts against some imaginary idea of perfection. Relax and enjoy yourself.
2) Create new traditions.
If it’s no longer appropriate, don’t do it. There’s an old Hungarian story about a young bride who buys a brisket of beef and cuts off a small piece from the end. When her husband asks why she is doing that she says: “my mother always does it that way.” They ask the mother why and she says: “my mother always does it that way.” They ask the grandmother who tells them that she cut off the end because her pot was too small. Ask yourself why you are doing something. If it has outlived its reason or usefulness, drop it.
3) Do less.
You don’t have to do everything from scratch. If your budget allows, hire help. If not, ask other people for help.
4) Give shopping free gifts.
Instead of spending your precious time shopping for gifts that might be returned or never used, donate money to a person’s favourite charity, or give a “gift certificate” for baby-itting, house-sitting, etc. Find out what a meaningful gift might be for the people on your list. And unless you have been preparing all year, DON’T stress yourself out deciding now that you can make everyone’s gifts. There’s no such thing as Santa Claus, and there’s no such thing as Martha Stewart.
5) Be realistic in your expectations
There’s no reason to believe that family members who don’t get along the rest of the year become bosom buddies on December 25th. Consider having two meals and invite the folks who get along….chances are good you can make the non-traditional menu for one group, and stick with turkey for the others. Remind your family that Christmas not the time to drop emotional bombs. This is not the time to announce that she is getting a divorce or that he lost his job.
6) Have a holiday health plan.
Decide before-hand how much and what you will eat, but even given our recommendations, have a small taste of your favourites so you don’t feel deprived. Its all about balance – if you really must have a Nanaimo Bar fll of nuts and chocolate, be sure you eat lots of healthy greens and foods high in lysine too. (Real egg nog is a good one). At the big dinners or events, keep busy with non-eating activities. Set the table, serve the food, do the dishes.
7) Take care of yourself.
Meditate, get a massage, go for a walk, read a trashy novel, rent a funny (not seasonal) movie, spend a night in a hotel.
8) Recognize what is in your power and what isn’t.
Keep in mind what you can and cannot do, and if you are so inclined, recite the Serenity Prayer:
Grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change
The COURAGE to change the things I can
The WISDOM to know the difference.
Here is something you CAN control – a herpes-healthy salad that will balance some of the not-so-friendly treats on the table this time of year. It’s a perfect salad over the holidays when clementines are in season.
Escarole, Pomegranate, and Clementine Salad
1 x head escarole lettuce, well washed and torn
1 x small bunch spinach, washed and torn
1 x pomegranate, seeds only
2 to 3 clementines, segmented
1 x red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp pomegranate juice (30 ml)
1/4 cup sherry vinegar (60 ml)
1/4 cup grape seed oil (60 ml)
1 tsp honey (5 ml)
1 tsp Dijon mustard (5 ml)
coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Combine the greens in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, clementine segments and onions. Make the dressing by whisking together the pomegranate juice, sherry vinegar, grape seed oil, honey and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Toss with greens.
How Not to Get Depressed This Winter
Change Your Lighting. Switch the light bulbs in your home to Full Spectrum Compact Flourescents with a colour temperature of 5100 Kelvin or higher. This is the closest artificial lighting to the sun’s rays and will help combat seasonal depression along with reducing your lighting bill by as much as 67%.
Vary Your Routine. Lack of stimulation, lack of variety and lack of challenge all contribute to depression. Don’t allow yourself to stay in a rut. Try new foods, go to new places, reach out and try to make new friends, move the furniture around in your house, change the colour of your walls. Examine every habit you have and try to shake things up.
Reach Out for Community. Isolation is a slow death. No matter who you are and what you are into there is a community out there either in the real world or on the internet ready to embrace you. You need to feel connected to others and others will benefit by being in your circle.
Have More Sex. I hope the benefits of physically and emotionally fulfilling sex are obvious. So why aren’t you getting more? Perhaps your rules are limiting your opportunities. If this is the case, it’s time to re-examine the priority you have placed on sex. loosen your restrictions, make it easier and not harder for yourself to get more sex. You do not have to be in love with someone or in a relationship to have sex. I am no promoter of meaningless sex, but I know from personal experience that it is possible to have abundant, healthy, uplifting sex in your life if you choose to.
Humidify. Drink lots of unfiltered spring water and teas like siberian ginseng, rhodiola and tulsi. Take a good fish oil supplement and make sure you have a humidifier in your bedroom if you have electric heat in your house.
Find Meaning in Who You Are and What You Do. If your daily life isn’t full of joy and meaning, you will get depressed, it’s only a matter of time. Some try to self-medicate themselves from this morass by doing reactional drugs or drinking too much. There is ultimately no escape from your internal judge. You know in the depths of your soul whether the life you live and the things you do have enough meaning. If meaning is lacking in your life, strip away all the dead wood and see what persists at your core. Who are you? What do you wish your life to be about? What dreams still remain unfufilled? How would you like to impact the world around you?
Tell your Story
There’s a beautiful print by Roy Henry Vickers, a famous native artist, at the bottom it reads: “Storytelling is the Ointment of the Healer”. This quote speaks to the social aspects of healing. Using storytelling as a healing tool is not only found in native traditions. It can be seen in the role of the modern-day therapist, or in the everyday act of relating a difficult event to a trusted friend. In short, storytelling is an essential part of being human.
However, the stigma and shame of having herpes often causes those with the condition to rob themselves of telling their story, speaking their pain to the world. We are left feeling more alone, more isolated from our family, friends and community at exactly the moment when we need most their support and to progress on the path of healing.
Perhaps, my story, or rather how I finally came around to telling my story, can help you. When I had my first outbreak, I was working on a fishing boat in an isolated part of the Queen Charlotte Islands. I knew something was wrong and eventually had to ask the captain to call a floatplane to pick me up to visit the hospital in Prince Rupert, at a large expense and disruption to those on the boat. However, out of shame and fear, I lied about my symptoms to everyone around me.
That started a long road of deceit and internalizing my story. This continued for many years. I came into the habit of only telling my partners when intoxicated, a regretful symptom of my fear of rejection and lack of my own comfort with having herpes. Or, worse still, I would put people at risk by not revealing what I felt was my darkest secret. Either way, I was left to further internalize my suffering. This only worsened my stress, paranoia and outbreaks. I was diseased mentally and physically, and very much in a wilderness mostly of my own creation.
But, change did come. Four years after the float place landed and after breaking up with the woman from whom I contracted herpes, I suffered from my worst period of outbreaks: nearly four months of constant sores, prodromes and pain. Finally, in a fit of pure desperation, I broke down the walls of shame and told my family. This was the beginning of using storytelling as a powerful tool for my healing.
My family did not reject me as I had imagined; shattering their picture of the perfect son. Instead, they loved and supported me more than ever.. One of the things I realized was that by not telling them, I had robbed them of the opportunity to help me; to guide and hold me when in need, just as they would if I had any other problem. I had denied them (and myself) their chance to be a shoulder to lean against and, yes, cry on.
Only a month later, my mother was driving me to see Christopher Scipio in Vancouver. And, for all of you have had such an experience, you know that getting his support and adopting a holistic approach can be a life-changing experience. It was for me. But, I probably would have never have made it to see him, if not for speaking out when I did.
Mostly recently, I joined a herpes support group, some five years after my first outbreak. While talking about living with herpes to strangers is a personal decision, I would strongly encourage those who are so inclined, but still apprehensive, to do so. I left my first meeting with a new sense of community. It put faces and stories to the statistics of how many people are going through the same thing: lawyers, doctors, senior citizens, construction workers, single mothers and fathers, and university students.
Of course, you must choose to whom and when to tell your story on your own terms. But, do not let fear stop you.
As a final note, I do not want to give a false impression that suddenly everything was perfect for me. I have my struggles with this condition. Yet, what has changed is that I have a network of love, support and community to lift me up on my bad days. I chose to stop feeling isolated and so I hope will you. This is because not speaking out robs you from harnessing storytelling – the ointment of the healer – to live a more balanced, honest and happy life.
Our newsletter survey was a great success, and we would like to thank those of you who took the time to help our newsletter readers get more of what they want.
Herpes Nation Newsletter Volume One, Edition Seven
You Don’t Have to Suffer This Winter
by Christopher Scipio
Three years ago I developed the Milena Cold and Flu Formula to deal with the increasing numbers of people suffering from colds and flu every winter. The Milena Cold and Flu Formula combines Lomatium Dissectum, Linden Flowers, Boneset, Elderberries and Flowers and a proprietary Botanical Anti-Viral Complex. All the ingredients in the formula are hand-prepared and hand-formulated in small batches in powerful tinctures of overproof rum and sake. All the ingredients have been clinically proven to boost the immune system and significantly speed up the healing process with Colds and Flus. I personally guarantee that the effectiveness of the Milena Cold and Flu Formula will help you heal faster from a Cold or Flu and lessen the severity of all accompanying symptoms . But the real power of the Milena Cold and Flu Formula is its ability to help prevent a Cold or Flu. Taken as directed at the first sign of any Cold and Flu and there’s a good chance that you may avoid becoming ill in the first place. Contact me at info at natropractica.com to order yours.
Write your own story
By Nancy Olson
I just read a novel about herpes. That’s right. A novel. Before you get too excited, I should tell you that it was bad. Real bad.
Three Years ago I developed the Milena Cold and Flu Formula to deal with the increasing numbers of people suffering from colds and flu every winter. The Milena Cold and Flu Formula combines Lomatium Dissectum, Linden Flowers, Boneset, Elderberries and Flowers and a proprietary Botanical Anti-Viral Complex. All the ingredients in the formula are hand-prepared and hand-formulated in small batches in powerful tinctures of overproof rum and sake. All the ingredients have been clinically proven to boost the immune system and significantly speed up the healing process with Colds and Flus. I personally guarantee that the effectiveness of the Milena Cold and Flu Formula will help you heal faster from a Cold or Flu and lessen the severity of all accompanying symptoms . But the real power of the Milena Cold and Flu Formula is its ability to help prevent a Cold or Flu. Taken as directed at the first sign of any Cold and Flu and there’s a good chance that you may avoid becoming ill in the first place.
It promoted itself as “one woman’s journey to find her true self” but it was far from that. Instead, it traveled a well-worn path of social stigmatization to end at the redemption of a sexually empowered woman by the love of a good man.
If having herpes has taught me anything, it is that there is good in any situation. Even as I read the novel, I revisited questions about the virus that plagues most thoughtful people with the infection – like, what’s the big deal with having herpes anyway? Why is it okay to have a cold sore on your lip caused by the same class of virus, and not okay to have the same sores on your genitals, well tucked away out of view?
For me it all boils down to sex. The fact that genital herpes is transmitted sexually links it to the complex social codes that govern our sexual behaviour. And believe it or not, it seems like even in the 21st century most types of sex are still highly stigmatized. Most importantly for our discussion here is the belief that because you choose to participate in sex the responsibility for having a sexually transmitted infection rests with you, the willing participant. Like all STIs, herpes is considered to be a “stain” that links a person to sexual behaviour that is perceived as “irresponsible”. Sex, and not herpes itself, is the central aspect of herpes-related stigma. I can’t say enough how important understanding this concept has been to me.
The central character of the novel feels a deep sense of sexual shame, largely related to a period of promiscuity in her youth that she suspects led to her infection. As a woman in her mid-thirties, she now feels that herpes has made her untouchable, unmarriageable and irredeemable. Her herpes infection has dealt a blow to her self-esteem that goes beyond guilt. She feels fundamentally dirty, and frequent outbreaks remind her of this fact over and over again. She seems eternally stressed by the shame of her infection and while she does seem to know the connection between stress and denial and herpes outbreaks, she never really discovers the Catch 22 of her situation.
Guilt can be a useful (if sometimes wasted) emotion. It helps us recognize when we have done something that violates our own sense of right and wrong. Guilt is about what we do. Shame is about who we are. If we feel guilty when we indulge in one sexual behaviour and better when we participate in another, what we are experiencing is the boundaries of our own conscience. If we feel ashamed of all the sexual feelings we have, we are experiencing sexual shame. Instead of just feeling guilty when we violate our standards for a healthy sex life, sexual shame causes us to feel evil simply for being sexual at all. And therein lies the challenge for those of us with herpes – how can we reduce sexual shame and fight the double-barrelled stigma of being sexual AND carrying HPV-2?
Shame fills no positive purpose in your life. While guilt can help negotiate the boundaries of our conscience, shame negates who we are and destroys our self-esteem. You need healthy self-esteem in order to function successfully in life and in your relationships, and you need healthy self-esteem to make peace with herpes and the effects it may have on your sex life. So how, you may ask, can we break free from socially imposed concepts of sexual shame to discover our own boundaries and maintain the high levels of self-esteem we need to stay human?
How can we rid ourselves of sexual shame? Sexologist and courtesan Veronica Monet has written at length about this subject, and much of what she recommends can also play an important role in ridding oneself of the self-induced shame of a herpes infection. Monet recommends a three-pronged approach to eliminating sexual shame: re-educate yourself; talk to someone about it; and study the history of sex.
Teach yourself to think differently about sex. Replace those negative messages your internal self-talk sends you about sex and herpes with positive self-talk: “I am a precious person with a normal and healthy desire for a sexual relationship” would be a good place to start. One of the side benefits of replacing the shower of shame we typically inflict on ourselves is that we will begin to behave differently towards ourselves and others. If you truly believe you are precious, you will treat yourself accordingly. Write your affirmations down and keep them handy so you can refer to them when you are feeling overwhelmed. Use creative visualization techniques to picture the beautiful person you are, even as you play host to the herpes virus. Learn to distinguish your inner voice and intuition from your shame and guilt. This is not easy but a perfectly possible and important step away from sexual shame. I find it helpful to take a deep breath, clear my mind of all thoughts and relax into my feelings. When my mind is quiet it is easier to hear my intuition speak to me.
Sharing your shame will also release it. Look for like-minded individuals to make safe disclosures about your viral status is a great way to bust shame. As soon as I started telling my friends and family I have herpes I felt a decrease in the negative energy I had to use to maintain my silence. Seek out a sex-positive community on the internet or a class or group in your community that supports you in your healthy sexuality. If you are too shy to explore these options right now, hire someone to talk to, but shop smart. Not all therapists or sex educators are shame-free.
Learn to see your sexual desires in historical context. Sex was once a celebration of life and a form of worship. It was imbued with healing properties and thought to bring individuals closer to the divine. These beliefs are not unlike the resources naturopathic healers like Christopher Scipio incorporate into their healing regimens. Once you understand that certain of your behaviours were once considered “normal” then you will be gentler with yourself. Regardless of what fundamentalist groups might say, our current moral standards have not always been ascribed to. Sex between strangers CAN be spiritual and fulfilling – it all depends of the intention of the couple. Superficial sex can be perfectly healthy and fulfilling, not to mention fun. Just remember that all sex, respectfully practiced in honesty and safety, can bring us closer to ourselves, each other, and spirituality. When the Goddess of Love was still honoured, the sacred prostitute was … a person of deep integrity whose welcome for the stranger was radiant, self-confident and sensuous. Her raison d’être was to bring the goddess’ love into direct contact with mankind “. . . the personal was transcended and the divine entered in. In those days, human sexuality and the religious attitude were inseparable.” (The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine by Nancy Qualls-Corbett, Inner City Books 1988.)
I am not ashamed of my sexuality and I am not ashamed to have herpes. Even if I choose from time to time to protect myself from the disapproval of unenlightened individuals, I am proud of the work I have done to escape the sexual shame that could accompany the infection. Unlike the protagonist of the book I just finished, I have never used unprotected sex as a weapon and I have never had sex in a relationship without disclosing my STI status. And as a sex worker, I am confident that using anti-viral gel and condoms makes me a much safer bet than casual sex partners who may not disclose their status or even know they are infected.
So what did I learn from the one and only novel I have found that features the herpes virus as antagonist? I was reminded that sexual shame (and even guilt) is a misplaced emotion and I was reassured that some people have come a long way towards reducing the stigma of herpes. It’s just too bad that the character in the novel wasn’t one of them. Guess I’ll just have to write my own book.
by Melissa Breault
I am a 28 year old artist and I have genital herpes.
There are a hundred good reasons why I decided to write this today. It will be a little hard for me not to get lost in explanations but I will try to stay pretty clear. First of all, I should probably mention that I am writing all this without any concerns, any shame, and that I actually have a little smile showing through my rested self this morning, probably from realizing for the first time that this whole experience only brought positive things to my life and that I wouldn’t be the one I am right now if this hadn’t happened.
I am part of the scary 60% that has contracted the herpes simplex virus…and for me it was quite a while ago. If HSV is fairly well-known, we sure don’t hear about it very much and nothing close to enough. The only goal I have writing this is to lighten up the subject a little without making it sound like something that should not be taken seriously.
We all go through events and experiences that makes us grow, think, and change. This is part of the beautiful process of becoming someone better, aware, awake and unique. Unfortunately, when you are diagnosed with HSV, all those remarkable things that are about to happen to you are not yet made obvious, especially in front of the white-coated person in front of you with his unsympathetic stare. This would be the last time I would go to a doctor’s office with the expectation of getting any moral support whatsoever.
The first thought I had walking out of the doctor’s office was that our society has really gone cold. The second thought I had was that I was just going to deal with it no problem. Anyone that knows me knows that there is not much that could bring me down. If there is something about me that I love, it’s my incredible positivity and my ability to take the drama out of almost any situation. This one turned out to be a little different. I mostly blame the incredible lack of information we have on the subject and all the prejudices that’s been going on about it
My third though came after realizing that I was not going to get away with it. Never. Herpes is a skin disease that stays with you forever, which makes it pretty interesting when it comes to deciding how to deal with it, since it is not even a question of how to get rid of it.
There are many choices. The most popular one is obviously the one that will make the pharmaceutical industry very happy. There are a few different kinds of medication you can take to suppress the symptoms or shorten the outbreak periods when they occur. They are very expensive and their list of side effects are quite disturbing. But since it was the first thing to try, I tried it. Everyone is looking for that quick-fix pill that’s going to make them feel better about everything and I can understand that. So for six months or so, I used those pills every single day. It’s something you have to do for the rest of your life since it doesn’t improve your health or anything and actually weakens your immune system quite drastically, gives you headaches and nausea. I can deal with quite a bit of pain with no problem. When it comes to putting my health in jeopardy, that’s another story. I threw out my pills and started over.
At this point, I was thinking I’d rather get a little skin rash every once in a while rather than having to deal with being sick all the time because of some unhealthy pills that are messing up my body. But denial has never been my thing and giving up is never an option I usually ever consider. So I started reading everything I could find about that virus I was going to host for as long as I live. I learned everything there is to learn and got to know my guest inside out. This was probably the most illuminating experience of my entire life. I understood and decided that an holistic approach was what would suit me best.
This brought me to the daily practice of Hatha yoga. Yoga tunes you up, balances your body and mind and makes you feel absolutely wonderful about who you are and about people and things around you. It is the beginning of all beginnings. Changing my diet helped a lot too, and so did meditation, self-hypnosis and a little cocktail of vitamin supplements and homeopathic products to improve the functions of the immune system.
The greatest thing I ever understood and accepted was that we were actually going to work together. I was going to be its host, it was going to be my guest and we were not going to fight anymore. The herpes virus is one that stays dormant until it gets triggered. Same with us, we stay cool until something or someone gets on our nerves and then we snap. This thing is no different. So we made a deal. I decided to do everything I could to live a well-balanced life, strengthen my immune system and try to keep my stress level to a minimum at all time. All this to keep my guest at peace, comfortably sleeping and having a good time. It actually agreed that it would stay dormant as long as I don’t look for trouble.
It took us a little over a year to settle our conditions and become friends. One day, I even decided to forgive the one that gave it to me and most importantly forgive myself for contracting it. Since then, I have seen myself change emotionally and physically quite drastically for the better. I haven’t caught a single cold since, I have never loved life more than I do now, I have never felt in better harmony with myself and others than I do now as I am writing this.
I don’t regret any of it. If I had a choice, I would certainly prefer not having to deal with it at all, but this is not a life threatening disease. This is not something to be afraid of. This is certainly not something to be ashamed of. There are some facts that have to be known though. It is a contagious virus that is fairly easily transmitted and always present. That said, being aware, responsible and intelligent about it reduces the risk of transmission of a whole lot and is probably what saved my boyfriend from contracting it in the five years we’ve been together.
I am glad I am now able to write a little bit about it. I now try to inform my friends about it and as many people as I can. I do it because I care, and because I know there are many many people that don’t know how to deal with it and that could use a little support.
Mr. Scipio has been for me a key person in the process. I feel great about everything, and it has been a few months now since I have had any symptoms. I am taking the opportunity here to thank him again for his help and support and dedication in his work.
I would have never thought about drawing a nude of myself before. The whole experience taught me how to respect and take good care of my physical and emotional self, and how to keep it connected harmoniously with my soul. It showed me how together, they all make a whole that makes sense and defines me. I have never felt this good about how I look than now, I have never felt this good about how I feel inside.
Love yourself, be creative and feel good!
Re-educate and Recreate
by Tara Shea Ananda
Several years ago, long before I was diagnosed with herpes, I went to a lecture to see a most unusual and eccentric genius. He was a British doctor who created a technology, that according to him was capable of taking unhealthy cells and changing their frequency – or electromagnetic field – to a healthy state by using sound waves. Cancer was a repeated example amongst other suggestions including bacteria and neurological disorders. The doctor did not believe in killing cancer cells. He did not believe in killing dangerous bacteria; he had compassion for ALL living things, including cells suffering from dysfunction, including bacteria, including viruses. Over the years this message of re-creating and re-educating an ailing body back to a frequency where only peace and enjoyable health are the outcome has stayed well in my awareness.
Taking responsibility for my own health is not a new concept. I grew up with vitamins, juicing, chiropractics, yoga and meditation. When the herpes became unbearable, I dug my heels in deeper in resistance to the symptoms. Sometimes, the discomfort would wake me in the middle of the night and I would launch into affirmations and prayers. That alone wasn’t helping enough. Vitamin therapy was helping too, just not enough. Same goes for acupuncture, chiropractics, “positive thinking” and diet; I was still missing a very significant piece.
Upon reading the Herpes Nation blogs and “Peace With Herpes” by Christopher Scipio I realized what was missing in my healing process – an amicable relationship with the virus itself. Christopher reminds us that the herpes virus is ancient; it has been on this planet long before we came out of the garden. The virus has an intelligence, and a brilliant strategy for survival. It may even be the perfect model for Self Love. When the truth sank into my knowing that the virus prefers to be comfy and tucked away in the ganglion of our nerves, it gave me an idea.
I decided to do a very specific meditation, going deep into my body through the tissues, organs and fibres, deeper through the spinal column and finally into the nerve where the virus lives during more harmonious times. My objective was to respectfully open communication and develop a rapport between guest and hostess. Once I did, I found a living organism with its own set of values and characteristics. I came to call this androgynous being, “Herp.” The second time I went deep within to visit Herp, it was to create a space where the virus would never want to leave and come to the surface.
The herpes virus and I designed a bedroom for it to comfortably reside in. We started with the walls: periwinkle with white trim. “Refreshing,” I thought. Then the virus picked out wall to wall carpeting in a fluffy white shag. “Surprising,” I responded to the selection and include it in the periwinkle room with white trim.
“What kind of bed?” I asked. It said, “Remember those ‘Floating Beds’ you saw online a couple months ago?,” I nearly forgot about those completely, they’re really cool, circular shaped and suspend from the ceiling. “Yyyyes,” I slowly answered as I was recalling. “One of those. Big. With mosquito netting.” “Very cool. Done,” I said. “And a simple three-drawer nightstand. Square and white with a shelf underneath to keep my books nearby.” “Practical,” I thought. Then I stared to ask, “Art…. what about …” Before I could finish my question, Herp said, “Wassily Kadinsky. One of those with the pastel colors from later in his career.” “Wow. Good taste,” I said.
Ok. So we’ve got periwinkle walls with white trim. A fluffy white shag carpet. A floating suspension bed with white mosquito netting and Wassily Kadinsky on the wall. “What about entertainment? Do you want a TV anywhere?” “Yes,” Herp said, “but tucked away in a large, paneled armoire. Citron.” “Citron??” I questioned. “Yeah, just pull the color from the Kadinsky piece.” “Oh. Okay.” I said. I couldn’t believe that I was being schooled and out-designed by a virus. “There will be room in the armoire to include an X Box and Wii,” Herp continued, “I especially want the Wii so I can do things like tennis, bowling, yoga and skiing.” “Anything you want, Sweetie,” I assured.
“And the windows? What do you want to cover the windows?” My professional suggestion was pull-down shades and soft, white, flowing drapes with pewter hardware. Herp snubbed my suggestion. “White painted, wooden shutters that open and close completely. The kind that has slits that go up and down to allow in or block out light.” This wasn’t my first alternate choice, but then again, it isn’t my room. It’s all for my little virus.
“Now for the most important element in designing a room – lighting!” I reminded. The wise and clever virus that lives inside me said, “I would rather keep that natural. I will be awakened joyfully by the smiling sun and rest when it’s dark under the night-light of the moon.” “I am proud of you,” I told my little virus.
Together we scanned the room. Then I tucked it in to its floating bed and said, “I will take care of you and keep you comfortable. Ring this bell if you need me before my next visit.” I placed a polished silver bell on the white night stand. “You have designed a beautiful space. Enjoy it and know that we can change it anytime you like. Sweet dreams, Little One.”
Taking responsibility has never felt so good. I now have open communication with Herp. The virus has been radically quieted by Christopher Scipio’s magnificent formulas and is comforted by my compassionate nurturing. This I know…I can feel it on the cellular level. A once unruly, cranky and frustrated virus that wreaked havoc on my nerve cells has been re-created and re-educated. We, that is Herp and I, now resonate at healthier frequencies and know to how to get what we both want without creating disharmony.
Herpes Nation Newsletter Volume One, Edition Eight
Life Lessons from the Herpes Virus
If you love learning then every event in your life becomes an educational opportunity- from the simplest observation to the most vexing challenge.
For me having Herpes has been a great teacher, although I haven’t always been the best student. In the beginning I was so scared and ashamed of having Herpes that I missed opportunities to learn and grow, but I on a different wavelength now and wish to share with you some of the lessons I am learning from Herpes and I ask to you write me and share some of the things you’ve learned so that I can put them in future newsletters.
Adversity creates motivation, reflection, openness and humility:
Getting Herpes when I was 25 was the first big crisis in my life. Neither having been born two months premature, or having a drug-addict as a father, or growing up in public housing in Toronto, or being in the army had fazed me much, but getting herpes brought me to my knees. I thought having Herpes would destroy my life but instead it has given me so much motivation to become holistically healthier, more honest, more courageous, more sympathetic to others, and more humble. I never thought that getting herpes would end up making me a better person, but it has and it can make you better to- if you take on the challenge and make peace with it, I promise.
Having Herpes helps shatter the myth of invulnerability:
Before getting Herpes I felt almost invincible. Herpes has helped me understand and appreciate how sensitive and vulnerable we all are. I’m not trying to suggest that we are not also strong and robust, but I find that our macho culture celebrates strength a bit too much and avoids looking at fragility. Herpes has helped me learn how sensitive our immune systems are and how much stress kills us each day. Just 15 minutes of stress can shut down your immune system for 24 hours. Many of the simple things in life cause stress like that morning commute to work or trying to find a parking spot before being late for an important appointment, or even watching the nightly news. Having Herpes has helped me to tune into my body’s sensitivities and doing so has allowed me to go outbreak free for years at a time.
You cannot control what happens to you but you can control how you react: Herpes has helped me also realize what my one true power in this life is, and that power is how I choose to react. I understand that I cannot always control what happens to me but I can control what I choose to do about it. In 2000 I was in a bad car accident that in ordinary circumstances should have ended my life. I was very very lucky and survived with just a broken collar-bone and some damage to my back. I was in bed for three and a half months. I can honestly tell you that I was never depressed for a second during this ordeal. My immediate reaction was gratitude- I felt like I had been given a second chance at life. I also didn’t take any pain-killers and was able to heal in less than half the time the doctors predicted. I give my happiness and positivity most of the credit for how well I did and I wouldn’t have been so happy and positive if the Herpes virus had not taught me to ask myself some simple questions; What’s funny about this? What can I be grateful for in this situation? How can I use this as an opportunity to improve my health? What does this teach me about life?
Enough about me for now. I would love to hear from you about your life lessons from the Herpes virus. Email me at holistic at natropractice dot com.
holistic viral specialist
Celebrating the Release of the Second Edition of My Book.
I’ve just had my 44th birthday and I have just printed the second edition of my book “Making Peace with Herpes”. The first edition of the book had six printing which all sold out and many people have told me about how profoundly the book has helped them on their herpes healing journey. The Second edition is even better and I would like everyone to read the book, so if you haven’t read it yet here’s my birthday gift for you: From now until the 11th of April I will sell you the electronic version of the book for $9.99 (regular price is $21.99) and the soft-cover version of the book for $14.99 (regular price $29.99).
If you have read my book but have never listened to the self-hypnosis CDs that are an extension of the book, until the 11th of April you can purchase them for $29.99 (regular price $60.00). If you have read my book but have never had a phone consultation with me and would like one, until the 11th of April you can book a 30 minute phone consultation with me for $24.99 (regular price $50.00). And if you have read the book but have never tried my Herpes formulas until the 11th of April you can buy them for $69.99 (regular price $140.00). These offers are only available to the readers of my newsletters so to take advantage of them email me at holistic at natropractica dot com.
More information can be found at http://www.herpesbook.com and https://www.natropractica.com
Deal With It…
…from an informed, objective perspective
Consider this startling statistic, according to WebMD – Half a billion people across the globe have genital herpes. Additionally, “Most people with herpes simplex virus type 2 don’t know they’re infected and don’t have symptoms,” note the researchers, who work at Imperial College London and the World Health Organization (WHO).
I’ve had herpes for more than three decades, and I can honestly say it’s brought out my deepest insecurities and my greatest personal strengths. Despite the fairly trivial effects of this condition, it carries a degree of stigma in U.S. culture. However, given the fact that I know my HSV status (unlike millions of asymptomatic carriers), I consider myself empowered to deal with the condition honestly and objectively.
Let’s face it, putting herpes into the 21st century dating mix can be awkward, but it’s not insurmountable. The bottom line: Don’t limit your dating partners to people who play host to this little virus. Sure, it might be more comfortable to consort with those who share our “gift,” but having nothing more in common than herpes is not necessarily a recipe for a good relationship.
Additionally, because your potential partner may also harbor the virus, consider urging her to get a full spectrum of STD tests. Because I’m HSV positive but HIV negative, I’ve always insisted that any person I want to “bed” get an HIV test and show me the paperwork. It’s the smart thing to do. If they balk-walk.
With the advent of the information age, and especially the internet, it’s more important than ever to be honest and informed when dealing with potential lovers. That’s because at the touch of a computer mouse, people can unearth a ton of information on the condition. Some of it will be factual and some of it will be pure hype.
So to successfully wade into the dating scene, and risk the deep waters of disclosure when you want to take the next step with someone you fancy, you need to be informed. You need to have facts on hand to put the herpes discussion in perspective and bring a level of objective context to the condition. For example:
¨ The possibility of spreading the virus when it’s not in an active state is relatively low, somewhere in the four to 10 percent range. Coupled with protection such as a condom, that figure is reduced even further.
¨ Nearly eight out of 10 individuals who carry the virus are asymptomatic. That means that many people have been exposed to the virus and don’t even know it. Your commitment to full disclosure will be respected and appreciated by your partner. I should know, as I’ve been down that road more than a few times.
¨ If you’re taking medication and/or potent remedies such as those offered by Christopher Scipio, your immune system is getting a powerful boost to keep the virus in a dormant state. That’s another plus as you discuss the potential for passing the virus, which you have reduced through your conscious efforts to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and keep a balanced mental state.
If you limit yourself to dating only those who share the condition, you may miss out on the love of your life. Despite the rejection that I have sometimes experienced through honest disclosure, I have no regrets. My life has unfolded as it was meant to. I respect myself and the decisions I continue to make in all areas of my life.
If someone wants to make herpes an issue, so be it. Move on, continue to hold your head high, and keep taking the risk of honest disclosure. Remember, knowledge is power when it comes to herpes.
Go Really Green This Spring
Times are tough – we hear it all the time these days. Global recession, global warming…seems like its all bad news these days.
Here’s an idea to turn it around, at least at your house. The recipes that follow are for “green” cleaning products that you can quickly and easily make yourself, for a fraction of the cost of the nasty store bought chemicals that marketers work hard to convince us to buy.
And while you are saving cash, you’ll be saving the environment.
Healthy All Purpose Cleaner
Mix 2 tbsp. of vinegar with 1 tsp. borax in a spray bottle
Fill the rest of the bottle with very hot water
Shake until the borax is dissolved
Add the 1/4 cup of liquid soap
To scent, add 10 to 15 drops of an essential oil.
A combination of lavender and lemon is nice. Because minerals in the water inhibit cleaning, it’s best to use purified or distilled water if your local water is hard, especially for this recipe. It’s important to dissolve the borax in hot water so that it doesn’t clog the spray nozzle. And don’t mix the soap and vinegar directly together, because the soap will clump up. Please follow the order of the recipe by mixing the vinegar, borax, and water first and adding the soap last.
Natural Disinfectant Spray
2 Cups Water
1/4 Cup White Vinegar
1/4 tsp. Tea Tree Oil
1/4 tsp. Lavender Oil
Combine and store in a spray bottle. Shake occasionally. Use where ever a disinfectant spray is needed.
Natural Tub and Tile Cleaner
1 2/3 cups baking soda
1/2 cup liquid soap
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup water
a few drops of Tea tree essential oil
Mix soda and soap. Add water, then add vinegar and oil. Store in a squirt-top bottle and shake before using. Rinse thoroughly to avoid leaving a residue.
If you want to learn more about making the switch from household chemicals, there are a lot of good blogs and websites you can consult. For starters try;
More Holistic Herpes Recipes
by Cassa Wood
4-5 Soft Taco shells
1-2 fillets of White fish
1 cup of carrots finely sliced
1 1/2 cup of Salsa
2 tsp of Olive oil
In a pan, sauté the oil onions and garlic for about 5 minutes or until soft, on medium heat. Then add the fish and carrots and cook until the fish is almost cooked, and put aside. Then take a soft taco shell, place a little bit of salsa, cottage cheese and some of the white fish mixture. Roll it up and place it into a oven safe dish or pan. Continue doing with all the taco shells, spreading 1/2 cup of salsa on top of them all. Then put into the oven for about 7-10 minutes at 350 degrees or until the taco shells are toasty. Serve hot, alone or with rice.
Spinach is a great immune booster and this is a tasty way to eat those greens. I love it with steamed brown Basmati rice!
3 tbsp of Garam Masala
1/2 Onion chopped
1 tbsp of chopped Ginger
4-5 cloves of Garlic
1/2 cup of Organic Cream
3-5 tbsp of Olive Oil or Ghee Butter
In a fry pan add the oil or butter, onions, garlic and sauté for 5-10 minutes on medium or until they are translucent. Then add the garlic and spices, turning down the heat a little. Cook for another 3-4 minutes and then add the cream cooking for another 5-6 minutes stirring occasionally making sure the milk doesn’t overcook. Then add the spinach and simmer until it is wilted and hot. I like to then let the dish sit for 5-10minutes on the stovetop, covered with the heat turned very low or off, to let the spices blend with the spinach a little longer.
The Ultimate Tuna Sandwich
1-2 slices of your favourite whole wheat or grain bread
1 can of Tuna
1 glove of garlic finely chopped
1/2 onion finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, take the tuna, avocado, garlic, and onion and mix together. Squeeze the fresh lime juice overtop and add the salt and pepper to your liking. If you are a fan of cilantro then you can throw it into the bowl as well.
Spread over the fresh bread open faced, placing slices of tomato and cucumber on top. Then cut it into 1/4 size pieces to make it easier to eat!
2 large limes peeled, and chopped into small chunks
1/3 cup very thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 small Jalapeno, halved, seeded and very thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar
2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 tsp of brown sugar
1 tsp of Sea salt
1 tsp of freshly ground pepper
2- 4 6-ounce Sockeye salmon fillets (depending on how many you are serving?)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the salmon filets in a casserole pot or cooking pan, lightly drizzling the pan and the salmon with some oil to prevent it from sticking. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until it is a lighter pink, and flaking. Best not to overcook but it depends on preferences. While the salmon is cooking you can mix together the oil, garlic sugar, limes, onions, cilantro and jalapenos salt and pepper.
Serve the fillets with the salsa mixture and rice or salad.
Now we want to hear from you!
Do you have a story to tell? Have you found a helpful resource you would like to share with other members? Email Christopher at [email protected] with your contributions. All media are considered, including links to relevant film, video and other audio productions.
Thank you, on behalf of our readers.
Herpes Nation Newsletter Volume One, Edition Nine
Shell shocked to the core . Seventeen years ago I sat in the GUM clinic . In two weeks time I was to be married to the fiance I loved . I believed he loved me . I sat in numb detatchment . This just could not be happening to me . I was planning my dress , flower girls and seating plans for the happiest day of my life . I could barely sit straight as the health advisor told me I had genital herpes and that my risk of cervical cancer was now four times higher than average .
She was a clinical battle axe . Judgemental , disapproving , unsympathetic , disinterested and definitely due for retirement as my world as I knew it crashed around my ears like foam on rocks . I was screaming in my mind but no sound would come out . I was like a TV with the sound turned down and tears that could not come . Had I infected my husband to be or he me ? Could we have children now ? I felt dirty , contagious , leper like and the clinics at that time were not PC with fish tanks tissues and glossy paint like they are now . I was in hell .
Naturally quiet and sensitive by nature this hit me hard . My fiance was supportive and also had tests . As it turned out he was an asymptomatic carrier with no symptoms . I had never had cold sores as a child . I thought I was so smart with birth control – all grown up taking care of my body – no unwanted pregnancy for me – I took the pill . But safe sex in terms of STD’s was not even a thought in my mind or on my radar – I was a clean good living girl . I was a health freak non smoking non drinking vegetarian raised in church .
Again I thought – this just CANT be happening to me . Even though the cracks I didn’t want to see in this marriage were there from the beginning I chose not to see them because who would want me now I was diseased and dirty , one of the untouchables . So marry I did and my husband loved me as best he could and took care of me when I got sick .
I had classic outbreaks , Blisters where it hurts and pain I can only describe as like sitting on a set of steak knives . First episode classic flu like symptoms , swollen glands , fever , aching . I was given acyclovir and slept solid for 3 days . I felt so weak and knocked out I could hardly raise my head to eat or open my mouth for a fork full of food . It was BAD . I felt I must have been very wicked in a past life to deserve this suffering . For the next 10 years I didn’t have to think about herpes too much unless having an outbreak as my husband and I were both infected . We had a beautiful child together in this time . This brought overwhelming moments of fear for me . Would I infect my baby ? Would I have a normal delivery ? By this time hospitals had got a bit more clued up and with the times and I was reassured / well cared for . By this time I had also become a qualified nurse so was armed with the powerful ammunition of professional knowlege as well as my own experience . I was becoming more empowered and less scared .
I split up with my husband after 10 years together and we divorced . Now I was facing new herpes problems . How could I tell a new partner about my condition . While I was becoming more at peace with the virus the stigma was and is still strong . Herpes is not ” cool ” like HIV . There were no celebrities queueing up to promote herpes awareness and support . It was still seen as a grubby seedy dirty disease and not dinner table conversation .
As I could not yet face ” the talk ” I went in to an emotional desert for some time choosing to stay single and concentrate on working and parenting to the point of exhaustion . I yearned for touch , for love , for deep love which is a gift of herpes as I felt I could not put others health at risk and no longer saw any point in superficial shallow flings . For me the price would be too high and I found my self worth , self confidence and inner steel beginning to surface at this point . During a bad outbreak there was not a part of my life unaffected by herpes . How many of you would call in sick to work with a raging herpes outbreak ?!! Sorry can’t work today , can’t sit straight in a chair to counsel patients ! If my son was ill I still had to look after him , cook , clean , work etc . We women are so so strong . I learned how strong I am from herpes among other life experiences . The clinics continued to improve and philosophies round sexual health changed .
Now in the UK generic acyclovir was available ( cheap to prescribe ) , together with famvir and valtrex . More was also becoming known about herbal treatments and remedies and a holistic approach to health keeping the whole body , psyche and spirit in balance and connected . In my herpes journey I have probably tried it all . Trial and error and finding what works for you individually for you are what I recommend . Eventually I did meet someone special . I was still too freaked out to have the talk so wrote my partner to be a letter telling him about my herpes . I cried when he rang me the next day to tell me he had received my letter and that it was ok . He thought no less of me . In fact he thought more of me than before because of my courage and honesty which he respected . Those words were like being wrapped and held in cotton candy or fleece duvet . I was cartwheeling around the room !! Imagine that – a sex / love life after some years and much pain and soul searching in herpes wilderness ! We had a happy and productive relationship for 3 years and then separated amicably as we were moving in different directions and very different people .
But this I do not regret . I have learned to love again . I have learned that the grass can flourish again after devastation and love endures all . And I mean real deep love . Not flash in the pan sex but real deep tender intimacy . The kind of natural comfotable caring sex , exciting sex , sex of many faces and colours but infinitely loving . Herpes helped me find my real self and has peeled away my defences , barriers and judgements one by one until only love is left and only love counts ultimately . It has made me more courageous , more loving , more forgiving , more heart centred , more grounded , more balanced and centred . I have lost the anger . It burned out of me long long ago and now love remains . I will never fall apart again because what I have gained replaced what I never lost – my self , the true god-self in all of us that is love , joy , peace . And this I wish all of you . Blessings and every day a beginning .
My journey with herpes started week 33 of my first pregnancy. I had met my husband a year prior and we had enjoyed a whirlwind courtship, I had moved across the country to be with him, and we were starting a most exciting life – we started a business together and became pregnant. It was thrilling! The pregnancy was progressing fine but was marred by vaginal warts that my midwife could not help me with, but my husband researched alternative creams online and we found one that worked. So when I suddenly came down with a new “wart” (which was a lesion, I didn’t know it) and a high temperature that would not respond to anything, we got scared. I checked into the hospital and listened to my baby’s heartbeat rise along with my temperature.
It took several days, but finally the painful lesions were tested and I found I was a carrier of genital herpes. This felt like a death sentence to me. I was scared, embarrassed, actually mortified. My husband felt the same way but was completely supportive of me. I was prescribed Valtrex and sent home. The Valtrex did work, the fever broke and the lesions slowly disappeared, but my birthing plans dramatically changed and I planned a c-section with a new doctor. Even worse, my insurance company didn’t support Valtrex and I wasn’t told about acyclovir so we were paying a backbreaking $200+ per prescription. It wasn’t until after the birth that we researched and found that acyclovir was covered by my insurance, and requested it from my doctor.
I have never been one to take medications so the thought of a lifelong dependency on acyclovir didn’t sit well, but to be honest, I didn’t have the presence of mind to address this problem. Even with the drug, I had outbreaks every week. Between the stresses on my body with a new baby, and my complete avoidance of my feelings about my herpes, I lived with the medication for a long while.
Finally I researched online and found Christopher Scipio and his book, Making Peace with Herpes. It was wonderful to read that there were alternatives out there. I contacted Christopher and started his program, but it didn’t go as well as I hoped. I had trouble getting enough sleep. I was scared to stop taking the medication. I didn’t trust that my body’s immune system could recover. And, in retrospect, I did try hard but wasn’t able to follow his program as well as I wished. I am not sure if I just wasn’t ready, or I didn’t believe in myself, or what it was… and then I got pregnant again and believed the program wouldn’t work for me until after my new baby.
Things happen if you ask, though. I remember asking God for help and the months of my second pregnancy, I worked with another herbalist who did provide me some relief from the ongoing symptoms. She believed that I could recover enough to have a natural birth, but my husband and I didn’t dare risk the health of our 2nd child so I had another c-section. The herbalist assisted in my recovery from the 2nd c-section so well, I recovered much quicker than from the first one. My 2nd child, also, didn’t have the colic my first child had, I believe due to her prescribing of a probiotic to both my child and myself. I started to believe I could help myself, that my body could heal itself, more than I ever did before. I had other successes, both spiritually and health-wise. My relationship with God and my Spirit improved; I learned EFT; I learned how to meditate.
Christopher reached out to me when my 2nd child was 6 months old, and I re-started his program. This time, what an amazing difference! I was able to follow his program. I was less judgmental about my lapses. It is not easy for a mother of a toddler and an infant to get up and perform yoga first thing in the morning, in an un-interupted manner, for 20+ minutes! It is not easy to always eat the correct foods when nursing, and craving, and starving, and exhausted. It’s not easy to find time to meditate! But I tried, and when I failed, I got up and tried again, and I depended heavily on the black tea bag therapy when I felt pre-lesions going on. I realize that the first time around, I was in denial. I would feel a pre-lesion and panic – “Oh, maybe it will go away on it’s own, PLEASE” – and not address it quickly and definitively as per Christopher’s program. This time, I didn’t panic… and when I stopped taking acyclovir, I threw myself a party. Only my closest friends knew why I threw myself a party, but who cares!
Genital herpes reaches its tendrils into so many aspects of life, and I feel that slowly, but courageously and with honor, disengaging those tendrils is part of the process. I felt angry towards my husband for a long time. Perhaps he was the one who gave me this curse! (He never got tested, why not?) He didn’t want to be reminded of it. If he saw my medication, he told me to hide it so nobody would see it. He feared that one of the nurses in my doctor’s office, who was an extended family member, would read my chart and find out and tell the family. He asked me to switch doctors for this reason, which I refused to do. It hurt me to be treated like a leper. But one day we had a large argument about it, and he told me – it is so embarrassing for me to think that my family might know about this, he told me. I *do* support you, I just want you to not talk about it to family, and to hide the medication so I don’t have to worry about people seeing it. And suddenly it clicked for me – I’m not the only one here. He has feelings, and fears, and I can honor his feelings and fears too without compromising myself. How hard is it to hide a medication? How hard is it to ask about my doctor’s privacy policies? How hard is it to be more selective about who I have in my support system? I feel that having compassion for the feelings of your partner is very important. Each situation is different, but I am glad I was able to be more compassionate and supportive of mine.
One day, my husband confessed that he had warts “down there” and he was scared he was hurting me with them. He went online and found treatments for them, and he told me he prayed. He started the treatments and a week later happily told me that they were working wonderfully and all the warts were going away. It was the same time that Christopher’s program started really taking effect for me to. I thank God for this; we helped each other heal in our own ways, I believe.
It’s been 3 months now and I feel as if a weight has been lifted off my body. I feel terrific. I keep thanking Christopher for his brave publishing of his program. I can’t tell you how sad it is to fear a sexual encounter. For so long, a part of me would cringe… I expected the immediate outbreak after the act. That fear has gone away and I have completely reclaimed my sexual joy, in a way even deeper than ever before. I am so grateful for my womanhood, my body, my wonderful immune system that with just some help and love, was able to heal me and my family.
I’m a better person because of Christopher Scipio. Not just because I no longer have herpes outbreaks, but because I have faith that my body, and the bodies & souls of my children and family, can be holistically and honorably supported. My oldest child had recurring eczema; instead of continuing prescription medication, I asked Christopher for a recommendation and a herbalist he knows helped us change my child’s diet, provided supplements, and provided an essential oil balm. It isn’t easy to change your life… or a family’s health… but that is what must be done, in my opinion, to maintain the health of a family. I am eternally grateful to Christopher for pointing me down that road.
a letter of love
How are you today? I can’t see you but I know you are there…
It’s been a while since you have made an appearance but that doesn’t mean you are gone forever, I know you will always be there, waiting, silently, patiently.
It has taken me nearly 3 years to actually address you like this, and for this I apologise for being so rude and taking so long to communicate! You see, it has been hard for me to come to terms with sharing my body and my mind with you.
I guess I never thought I would be spending my life with you, and my lord, do you have a bad reputation! Plenty of people make jokes about you, and now you are part of me, it feels like those jokes are aimed at me.
I have been holding onto feelings of guilt and shame since you first appeared, but why is this!? I am very much a positive person, and would never judge others because of you.. Yet I have let issues of negativity surround our relationship, with this negativity building into depression.
The main problem lies in acceptance; when you first affected me it was hard to accept and I felt like I was going through it on my own. I should have talked to “Jim”, he told me I could talk to him about it, he had been through it himself and most probably he wanted to connect with me about it. I couldn’t remember our conversation when he told me you were with him as we were drunk, and we went to having unprotected sex, without properly discussing it sober. It must have taken a lot for “Jim” to open up to me, but I always felt that him passing you on to me could have been prevented.
Eventually I accepted that you were part of us both, “Jim” and I, and because I thought we were in love it was all ok. However, our communication was never the best and our relationship disintegrated, I wanted to see the world and felt that “Jim” was holding me back; he wanted me to be the dutiful girlfriend – someone who slotted into his life – not off pursuing silly adventures. Afterwards I went through anger and regret, and poor “Jim” was the one on the receiving end. He must have experienced the rejection he was worried about – however, it wasn’t because of you, herpes, you just made it much clearer that me and “Jim” weren’t right for each other.
Then it was just you and me. I accepted you into my life, but because of my hesitation to open up to another person initially, the thought of sharing our relationship in the future weighed heavily.
I still felt shame and guilt but learned to hide it, and learned to avoid situations where I might get close to another man. It would literally fill me with anxiety if I thought there was a chance of me getting intimate with someone. I craved affection, yet, knew there was a big herpes shaped barrier in the way of any possible intimacy. I couldn’t talk about it with anyone, and felt like I was living a double life.
Eventually I met someone else but I still couldn’t open up about you. I was scared, scared of rejection, of hurting this person, of passing you on and because I was scared I didn’t say anything. Then an almighty feeling of dread emerged as I thought I could have passed you on, and he might not even know. I told him and the relief that brought was only second to the fact he had not contracted you. At the time I said that I would rather be alone forever than go through that again… but of course, that is not true. He didn’t think it was such a big deal that you and I were together, and even though other circumstances meant me and him couldn’t be together, it gave me hope that people – men, would have compassion and understanding if only I had the courage to open up about you.
I don’t want to keep getting into the same situation, the same cycle of fear and shame and guilt, although I’m worried I may be too late. I have again met someone else but have retracted from being honest and upfront about you. I’m not sure where it is going but I know in order to go any further with him I have to first face my relationship with you, and if me and him are to carry on he must know the truth about us.
I want to love you and cherish our relationship and appreciate what you have taught me!
I am young, I am attractive, I am a funny, I am healthy and I need you herpes… to help me work out who is going to love me for me – because you and I are one! Perhaps the barrier is a good thing, it means I can have a relationship on a much deeper level. Perhaps I need to learn to open up before I become intimate with somebody, perhaps it is crucial and it was destiny you and I came together.
For me it is not the physical scars you leave but the emotional connotations and deep connections to reoccurring feelings of rejection and self-doubt.
And I know it is not you that brings those into our relationship; but me.
I am seeking compassion, trust, forgiveness and love… But first I need to find them within myself.
This is the first step in turning our relationship around, my letter to you, facing up to our life together, asking for us to be friends, thanking you for coming into my life. Beginning a path where I can help others build on their relationship with you, and one day, hopefully helping to change your relationship with humanity. It is all about love, so I am taking measures to learn to love you, and hopefully one day,
someone will love us both.