In response to:

My reply

Hi Kevin-

I was just notified of your blog regarding herpes.

I’d like to clarify a few things for you:

  • As of February, 2012, 9 human herpesviruses have been classified by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV)
  • Most of human herpesviruses including the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), reach around 90% in worldwide human lifetime prevalence.
  • By high school graduation, half your class already carried HSV-1: the type commonly believed only to cause cold sores.  However, either Herpes Simplex Virus – type 1 or type 2 – can infect any surface of the body: the mouth, the genitals or any other location from head to toe.
  • HSV-1 is most commonly transmitted from adult (family or friend) to child, long before sexual maturity.  A simple kiss from parent or relative is enough to transmit herpes simplex and result in their hosting the virus for life.
  • Upon marrying or commencement of sexual activity, that very same virus can transmit from them to their partner’s genitals during oral sex.

Thus, any perfectly chaste, Christian individual who waited until marriage may well have picked up HSV-1 from their family and can then give their partner genital herpes at any point in life, when conditions are right.  In fact, most of those moral people will already be infected by at least one type of HSV before marriage and it’s quite possible that they will transmit it to their partners genitals.  Same result; 100% moral means.

I believe in sexual morality and responsibility. Obviously you do as well. However, you have gone way overboard in regard to herpes. Most HSV transmission – and indeed, most herpes – isn’t even transmitted sexually; it’s transmitted innocently via human contact, but it can still transmit to a spouse during sex later on. Any suggestion that those with HSV – including genital herpes – are sinners or have ever done anything immoral is simply wrong, both literally and figuratively.

It is quite well documented that 90% of humanity has carried the herpes simplex viruses for over 6 million years (recently confirmed) and will continue to do so until some vaccine is discovered. The fact that some people end up with it on their genitals does not necessarily make them immoral; sexual immorality alone does that. There are many people who have always acted in a completely moral fashion and still ended up with a genital herpes infection. Indeed, over 1/4 of men and 1/2 of women do end up with a genital infection of HSV at some point in life, although less than 20% ever see symptoms.

If you look on the very same CDC webpage from which you got your statistics you will see that:

“The overall prevalence of genital herpes is likely higher than 16.2%, because an increasing number of genital herpes infections are caused by HSV-1. Increases in genital HSV-1 infections have been found in patient populations worldwide.”

By “likely higher”, they mean quite possibly multiple times higher, since most adults do carry HSV-1 and regularly expose their partners to it genitally.  HSV – including the risk of and propensity for transmitting genital herpes – is indeed endemic and ubiquitous and the more research they do, the more they realize that has always been the case, throughout history.

It is nothing new; science merely recently realized it and is now regularly proving that it has always been so.  That number isn’t necessarily “increasing”; they’re merely becoming increasingly aware of the great prevalence of HSV-1 genitally. There are studies as early as the 1980’s – when they really first started studying HSV transmission and sexual activity – which already showed that the majority of genital infections were actually HSV. (Spoiler: even in the 1986-2002 it was 60%.)

In another, 9-year University of Madison study published in 2003, a full 78% of new genital herpes cases were actually caused by HSV-1, not HSV-2.  Most every study in which they’ve actually looked for HSV-1 vs HSV-2 genital infections, they find that well over half of Genital Herpes infections are HSV-1.

That “1 in 6” statistic you mention was arrived at by blood tests for HSV-2 alone; they weren’t even looking for HSV-1, nor did they confirm that the infections were actually genital and in reality, they missed the boat completely on actual genital herpes prevalence.  In truth, they don’t even know whether or not those HSV-2 infections were genital; many of them surely are not, although most HSV-2 infections are indeed genital, so they leapt to that conclusion and considered all those HSV-2 infections genital, while completely ignoring the great prevalence of genital HSV-1; a considerably larger number, by all indications.

The CDC added that verbiage about genital HSV-1 to their site shortly after we contacted them about their statistic having been arrived at via flawed means – that they have no idea how many actually have Genital Herpes, since they had only looked at one cause of Genital Herpes, while the cause of the lion’s share was ignored.  I’m sure they’re working on how to come up with a new national number which actually is accurate and I’ll guarantee you that when they do, it’ll be well over half and quite likely 2/3 of adults – possibly higher – who carry an HSV infection of some type genitally (although, as you mentioned yourself, rather few get symptoms.)

I invite you to review two of our own webpages, so that I can provide you with specifics:

There’s Something You Should Know

Can the CDC be Wrong?

Without vaccination, Herpes, HSV and HPV cannot be stoppednot because human beings are all immoral, but because it’s perfectly normal for all human beings to acquire and transmit HSV & HPV. The vast majority of HSV transmitted via innocent human contact rather than sex, though.  This should not be considered immoral, but an unfortunate result of normal human contact.

Again, I applaud your championing morality and, of course, Christianity.  However, it is no more fair to admonish people for herpes and HSV than it is for the common cold. Indeed, HPV and HSV are actually more common than either the cold or influenza: many times more people host HSV or HPV than will acquire a cold or flu each year.  People just don’t know this, because so few actually get symptoms.

As a final citation, I’d like to refer you to Chapter 36 of Human Herpesviruses: Biology, Therapy, and Immunoprophylaxis, the primary herpesvirus textbook in our National Library of Medicine. There, within the very first paragraph on HSV epidemiology, you can clearly see that:

“Worldwide, ~90% of people have one or both viruses.”

I’d like you to edit or remove your post regarding herpes. By rights, it shouldn’t even be included in an “STD & morality” discussion: it most certainly isn’t included on any STD testing, because while some HSV transmissions occur sexually, the vast majority of HSV do not occur as a result of sexual contact, moral or immoral.

For purposes of your Christian conversation, there are plenty of real STDs to highlight – infections which maybe infect around 5% of people and actually are mainly due to promiscuity and bad decisions – but right now, 90% of the planet is infected by at least one of the two HSV viruses; quite probably yourself, too. There’s absolutely no reason to promote a false stigma about herpesviruses, HSV,  Herpes Simplex, Genital Herpes or HPV when there are legitimate STDs to pick on.

I’ll not deign to cite bible verse, as you know full well what Christ had to say about judging others. We are told to love and lead them; judging is God’s job. I only ask that you not cause people with herpes to either feel or be judged – unfairly and untruthfully – or perpetuate a false stigma. All humans have a handful of herpesviruses and 90% of them carry at least one Herpes Simplex Virus, too; closer to 75% in the US, but still a great majority.  Unlike syphilis and gonorrhea, acquiring and hosting contagious HSV – and experiencing Herpes Simplex, too, if one’s immune system isn’t tolerant – is actually a perfectly normal part of human life; even a moral life.

Condemn sexual immorality as you will and use legitimate STDs as examples, but please leave HPV and HSV out of it.  They don’t belong there and, however unwittingly, you’d be condemning nearly every adult person you’ve ever known and loved; most of them just don’t know that they host HPV & HSV viruses… and neither do you.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours in Christ,

Christian Fauchald
Founder & Chairman


PS: I’d advise you to consider, as well, that if you do choose to continue to teach people fallaciously about HSV and HPV, you may well end up with quite a fair number of completely unfounded and erroneous accusations of adultery. Followed, quite possibly, by marital separations and divorces. That is – in my opinion, at least – about the worst possible tack that a Christian leader could take.

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