Monday, March 05, 2007

Herpes Dating

One in four women is infected with genital herpes, and nearly one in five men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is a staggering rate. Herpes is far from the worst sexually transmitted disease in its effects, but it is annoying. Worse, it is morally very embarrassing, a constant reminder that you did something foolish.

Most people who have genital herpes don't want to give it to anyone else, which is to their credit. But they still want to "date" and most still want to marry. With infection rates this high, a rational solution has emerged in large cities around the country: herpes-only dating sites. These herpes clubs are often as much support networks as they are matchmakers.

I feel for people with herpes. As a Calvinist, I know we all do foolish things all the time, myself included. None of us is in a position to look down on others. Moreover, I think that restricting your mate selection to people you cannot infect is a decent thing to do for society. Herpes dating and support groups are an ethical thing to do for the world, considering…

Still, it is hard enough to find the right mate without eliminating 75% or 80% of the potential pool. The fact that our country needs herpes dating sites is further proof that keeping sex only in marriage is the most realistic morality for individuals, and especially for society.


Aaron B. Brown said...

I'm more concerned with the extreme conservative elements in this country who are apparently willing to place their moral concerns ahead of the health and well-being of their own daughters.

I find it difficult to believe that there is growing opposition to a vaccine which will prevent HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), but it's true. Now that there is a vaccine which can immunize young girls against this virus which often leads to cervical cancer, and genital warts, there's a growing movement to stop states for mandating its use, so much so that Merck, its maker, is backing off its push for a nationwide mandate.

HPV Vaccine: Too Soon To Be Mandatory

[Religious conservatives worry that it would make teens likelier to sin (by easing the threat of an STD). Of course, vaccines don't put ants in your pants anymore than safety belts cause road rage, and, besides, nearly everyone gets laid eventually. The purpose of public health is to protect everyone, and the vaccination of young girls is based on solid data showing that 13 percent of girls have already had sex by the time they turn 15. (It's important to vaccinate before sexual debut, because HPV infection risk increases about 15 percent with each new partner.) ]

HPV vaccine fuels debate

Haneisen: What if there was an HIV vaccine?

Medical nihilism and the HPV vaccine

Gruntled said...

Aaron, I am strongly in favor of the widespread cheap or free availability of the HPV vaccine. I think private agencies, such as schools, should consider making it mandatory. I am wary of government mandates if we can avoid them; at the least, we should debate it for a few years. My understanding was that this vaccine was not effective against genital herpes. It is certainly worth doing, though, for the things it can prevent.

Anonymous said...

My wife just asked me, "Where have you been?" That's because I was unaware that states were MANDATING this vaccination.

I'm sorry, but your moral outrage at the paltry "moral concerns" of extreme conservatives doesn't cause me to shed one tear. I'm far from "extreme" in my views, but I suppose that in this culture, being opposed to premarital sex makes one appear that way. You actually believe I should have no problem with the state MANDATING this vaccination for my daughter? Try looking at this from another perspective, with another issue at stake.

Believe it or not, there are plenty of young people who will wait until marriage to have intimate sexual relations. They should not be implicated in the mess that everyone else in the culture makes of sexuality.

Gruntled is right: the realistic ethic is abstinence outside marriage. Keep on adding every medical effort you can, and nature will continue to find ways to run around it. There are obvious consequences of sex outside marriage, with multiple partners. Medical science will never answer them all.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe anybody should have to limit themselves to dating only those that have herpes. You can't help loving somebody for WHO they are vs. what they have OR don't have.

Aaron B. Brown said...

Consider this scenario, among many others I could mention like rape and incest.

A woman marries a man, who unknown to him or her is carrying the human papilloma virus, and she becomes infected with it.

This woman's parents refused to have their daughter vaccinated when she was a girl, on moral grounds. So what they've done is condemn a chaste woman to carrying a virus, and living with the fear of cancer for the rest of her life. How would you feel if you were the parent of that girl? Would you regret your decision and change your position on mandatory immunization?

I would characterize such parents behavior as irresponsible, and they ultimately would be culpable for any further illness this woman would suffer as a result of their misguided morality. In my opinion this is a clear-cut public health issue, not a moral one.

But even if it were a moral issue, unless you believe that promiscuity should be punished with disease, and death, I don't see how you can make the argument against mandating any immunization which prevents such serious life-threatening illness.

I would suppose that everyone reading this had their children immunized against polio? Would any of you support a parent's decision to reject polio immunization on moral or religious grounds? If so your views are in direct contradiction to state law here in the United States which mandates such immunizations, and justly so, I see no difference. It's about protecting the future of individuals by immunizing them when they are young, so they and society need not be forced to face living with a preventable disease.

Also if the only way you can keep your children from practicing the so-called immorality of sex outside of marriage, is through fear of acquiring a disease, then I submit that such morality is flawed from its inception, a manufactured contrivance, nothing more than fear tactics. Though I must admit, that is how many religions maintain control over their adherence. Apparently the believers in some religions no longer see the fear of God as sufficient motivation to keep their children from sinning, now they must rely on the fear of life-threatening disease to assist them in maintaining their belief systems.

I have no doubt that many religious conservatives in America will reject mandatory HIV vaccinations for their children using similar arguments, once they become available. My only response to that is, pathetic, sad and criminal. For you are the very definition of a criminal if you choose to put your religious and ethical beliefs ahead of the health and well-being of your child, and I would hope that such religious fanatics wind up in jail and have their children removed from their custody should they insist on holding to such positions.

If you want to make a statement about your faith and your morality, do so with your own body, not the bodies of your children, for they are not your property to do with as you see fit according to your personal interpretation of God's will.

Anonymous said...

Gruntled said...

The bill that died in the Kentucky senate -- mandatory immunization, but with a parental opt-out -- seems to me a reasonable compromise. I expect it will be back in the legislature next year.

freedom2speak said...

Everytime my husband and I see the ad on television for Valtrex we jokingly make comments. I suppose it is arrogant of us. But I am tired of the birtcontrol ads with women sans a wedding ring. Although my religion does not condone birth control, it would be nice to see a pharmaceutical ad that is not blantantly promoting promiscuity. Valtrex, Ortho-Evra, LoEstrin, etc.

As far as the HPV vaccine. . . I think that it should be mandatory. It is preventing a life threatening illness. When I received a polio vaccine, it did not mean I was planning to trvel to areas of the world that were still battling with polio.

Parents have every right to deny vaccines for their children on the basis of personal or religious exemption. . . and can do so. Do the parents who have religious or moral objections realize that not only are some vaccines involving embryonic testing or use in the products? Do they know that there are some vaccines that use mercury, but that the vaccine maker (or gov't) are trying to phase that out?

I am not a radical that does not vaccine my children. But I do file an exemption for personal reasons, should I come up against a vaccine that I do have a problem with.

Vaccines aside. . . anyone else tired of hearing "I have herpes and she does not. And Valtrex helps us to keep it that way." So does abstinance. If religion alone did not keep me from having pre-marital sex. . . a boyfriend with herpes sure would have!

Anonymous said...

Dear Aaron:

You obviously carry many assumptions about me and my comments. I cannot begin to address them all. We obviously dwell in different places, philosophically. You are quite willing to dismiss my position, even to declare me immoral for my convictions.

I will say that I think it is a huge assumption, and a flawed one, to declare a difference between "public health" and "morality." Your very conviction that this vaccine should be mandated, and that to neglect it is immoral, is itself a moral conviction. The locus of your moral concern simply is in a different place.

The examples you offer seem to assume a high probability of occurrence for something that in other people's lives is not nearly so likely. This may seem strange to you, but there really are people out here in the world who keep sex within proper boundaries. There really are people who don't yield to temptation. We resent your assumptions that we must live according to your circumstances.

I don't know; maybe the shoe is on the other foot these days. For so long, religious people ruled the culture, and everyone who wasn't guided by religious conviction had to get along. Now it's different. I'm having to learn to accept that, and I certainly don't want to go back to the way it was. I will, however, continue to point out the ways in which you completely bypass our freedom of conscience, exercised within proper bounds.

Certainly that's something that almost all Americans can agree on.

Anonymous said...

Is everyone aware that most people that have herpes are not even aware that they have the virus? In fact, testing for the virus is not standard unless you are pregnant and even then you are only tested for genital herpes.... the father is not. We need to stop judging each other so harshly and stay out of each other's bedrooms.

Since 20-25% of the entire adult population has genital herpes, I suggest you take a look around church next Sunday and then see who among you can cast the first stone.

Gruntled said...

Maybe everyone can get tested for herpes when they, and their relatives, get the HPV vaccine?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, help me out: Who is in whose bedroom?

Anonymous said...

This link does not work:

herpes-only dating sites.

Gruntled said...

Thanks -- it should work now.

Anonymous said...

Haha, I see you there Angela.


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