**To check out my updated post on this blog, please go here**
I originally blogged about this topic back in January of 2010. I've decided to bring it back because of the recent multi-million dollar lawsuit brought against an "A list" actor who allegedly infected his sexual partner during a debauched weekend in Las Vegas. Apparently, not everything that happens in Vegas (like herpes) stays in Vegas.
I'm not sure if the $20 million lawsuit was ever settled, as there doesn't appear to be much current information on the case.
There is some legal precedent when it comes to one person successfully suing the person who transmitted the herpes virus to them. Thomas Redmond is a multi-millionaire and the founder and creator of the "Aussie" haircare products. His lover (who was 20 years younger than him) successfully sued him to the tune of somewhere between $4.3 million and $6.7 million. Other famous celebrities who have been sued for transmitting the herpes virus to their partners are:
- Tony Bennett was sued for $90 million. He later provided medical records showing he was herpes free and counter-sued the woman for defamation and $100 million. Unfortunately, there seems to be little information on how, when, and for how much the claim was settled.
- Robin Williams was sued for $6.2 million. He later settled out of court.
- Michael Vick (yeah, that dog dude) was sued for an unknown amount. He later settled out of court.
Herpes is one of the most prevalent and contagious viral STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) in the world. It is caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2) infection.
How many people have it?
In the US alone, it is reported that at least 45 million over the age of 12 have had genital HSV infection. Genital HSV-2 is much more common in women (about 1 out of 4 women) than in men (about 1 out of 8).
Most people who have herpes have NO or only minimal signs or symptoms. Common signs typically appear as one of more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters can commonly be misdiagnosed as ingrown hair follicles or a rash. If the blisters break, they will leave sores that usually take between 2 to 4 weeks to heal and clear. Subsequent outbreaks tend to be less severe and last shorter then the first noticeable outbreak.
People who have herpes often report feeling that "tell tale" tingling just prior to experiencing an outbreak or "shedding". From a public health standpoint, medical providers USED to say that this is the time to totally avoid sexual contact. More recently, newer infections have been reported during non-shedding times as the infection stays indefinitely in the body.
Here are some ways you can NOT get herpes:
- toilet seats
Here is how to test for herpes:
- blood test
- visual inspection during an outbreak
- swab test
The most common treatment for herpes is a combination of antiviral and suppressive medications like Valtrex.
Being that it is so prevalent, there are MANY Hollywood celebrities who allegedly have herpes. I'm an admitted celebrity gossip whore, and these are the people I know of (allegedly):
- Janet Jackson
- Robin WIlliams (see above)
- Jeff Goldbloom**
- Derek Jeter who allegedly gave it to (along with many others)
- Jessica Alba
- Paris Hilton (duh!)
- Victoria "Posh" Beckham
- Lindsay Lohan
- Alyssa Milano
- Britney Spears
- Katie Holmes
- Billy Idol
- Fred Durst
- Tony Bennett (see above)
- Michael Vick (see above)
**Allegedly, they pass it along freely with out informing potential sex partners
The fact that so many people have herpes tells me that we still have a long way to go if we want to be able to openly talk about our sexual health.
I'm a huge advocate of people knowing their HIV/STI status. I'm also a huge advocate of people talking about their sexual health with their potential partner(s) prior to engaging in sexual activity. If you have full knowledge of your partner having herpes and make the decision to have barrier-free sex, then that is the level of sexual risk you are comfortable making.
When someone you are planning to have sex with asks you about your personal sexual history and health, tell them the truth if it could potentially affect them (for example, if you had a bacterial STI, successfully treated it, and got the "all is clear" from your doctor, there is no need to tell someone about it unless you want to). Similarly, its up to YOU to ask your potential sexual partner(s) about their sexual health and history.