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You can even get it if the other person doesn’t have symptoms, since the virus sheds about 10 percent of the time for asymptomatic HSV-2 infections, according to a 2011 study published in the Herpes has a unique stigma among sexually transmitted diseases.
HIV/AIDS is stigmatized, but few laugh at people who have it because it’s a serious illness.
You can only get genital herpes from someone who already has it, can get it during just one sexual encounter, and can get it with or without a condom.
Condoms merely lower your risk, according to the CDC.
Leah Berkenwald pointed out in an article for Scarleteen that almost every Judd Apatow movie includes a joke about herpes.
Living Sphere has a large list of films, TV shows, and books that mention genital herpes, with many of the films and TV shows poking fun at people who have it.
Sometimes the jokes directly suggest people with genital herpes are whores or cheaters or they indirectly make the connection, such as the classic line, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
According to the National Institutes of Health, many people with genital herpes never even have outbreaks or their outbreaks decrease over time (one or two outbreaks a year is not uncommon).
But it’s difficult to pin down exactly when and why our negative associations started.
Regardless of where the stigma came from, film and TV no doubt keep it alive.
Jennifer Lemons, a 42-year-old writer and comedian from Richmond, Virginia, isn’t offended when she hears herpes jokes, but says she used to be more sensitive before she got the facts.
She’s come to peace with her genital herpes, which she was diagnosed with three years ago, after feeling shame about it.