This interview was made to accompany the blog entry', Cleaning Out my Closet: Herpes http://cherlnell.com/the-infinite-evolution-of-life-learning-and-love/cleaning-out-my-closet-herpes
Cleaning Out My Closet (Herpes) The Interview
With Belize Samuel
Cherlnell: Hello, can you tell us who you are and what makes you qualified to answer these questions?
Belize: My name is Belize Spivey aka Belize Samuel. I am STD Life Coach. I help African American women overcome the stigma of herpes. I overcame the stigma of herpes 7 years ago. I had the desire to help other women do the same. I have a Master of Art in Human Service Counseling.
Cherlnell: Are you a doctor?
Belize: No, I am not a Doctor.
Cherlnell: What is Herpes and how do symptoms present for males vs females?
Belize: Herpes is a Sexual Transmitted Disease, transmitted through skin to skin contact such as kissing, oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse. Men and Women symptoms are the same just varies person to person. Herpes symptoms consist of itching, burning, discharge, sores, blisters, cuts, pimples, aching body, flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes in the neck or groin, or no symptoms at all.
Cherlnell: When do symptoms present and how long can herpes lay dormant before an outbreak?
Belize: Herpes symptoms can arise as early as 2-21 days. The virus can lie dormant for years without being triggered. Some individual never have an outbreak but received a herpes diagnosis through an std screening blood test.
Cherlnell: There are some symptoms that don’t present as textbook. What are some symptoms you should look out for other than blisters? When you look online and even in books you can’t find any pictures of herpes outbreaks on African Americans. What can we look for on our dark skin for outbreaks because it’s different?
Belize: You’re so correct it's not likely to find a picture of African American with herpes outbreak on the internet. I have learned over the years that outbreaks looks different on each person. An outbreak can appear as a thin cut, pimple, rash, ulcers, or cluster of blisters or fine pimples. I want people to know an outbreak is more than just blisters it's any of the symptoms I stated earlier as well.
Cherlnell: How do you test for Herpes genital/oral? Is there another way other than the swab? And can you request it even if you don’t have an outbreak?
Belize: Herpes is tested by a swab and blood test. The swab is used when an outbreak is present. The blood is best when you don't have any herpes symptoms. You can go into your doctor's office and ask for Herpes test. Just know many doctors discourage you from getting a test without an outbreak. Ask to know your status anyway. Many people assume that they’re receiving a herpes test in a standard std panel. Herpes isn't included in the panel for every doctor office. Many should ask for it by name, such as herpes or HSV.
Cherlnell: Can you contract oral herpes from genital herpes and vice versa?
Belize: You can contract herpes from oral, genital, and/ or anal. It can be transmitted from any of this area when an outbreak is present in your mouth or genital areas.
Cherlnell: Is there any other ways to contract genital herpes other than sex? Can you get it from a toilet seat?
Belize: You can not contract herpes from towels or toilets. The chance of contracting from drinking from someone with an active outbreak is very low but possible.
Cherlnell: Can someone with herpes donate blood?
Belize: You can give blood or plasma if you have herpes.
Cherlnell: Is there a cure for herpes?
Belize: Currently it's no fully documented herpes cure. I believe there is a cure already present but not fully documented for everyone to easily find or afford.
Cherlnell: What are the different methods of treatment?
Belize: Suppressive treatment is when you have outbreaks often, you may want to consider taking an antiviral drug every day. The medication available is acyclovir (Zovirax), and valacyclovir (Valtrex). The holistic or natural treatment is using herbs and essential oils to reduce outbreaks.
Cherlnell: What are some treatments out there that you should watch out for?
Belize: These two treatments are mostly used. It's completely determined by the individual. I recommend that the individual do what works best for them.
Cherlnell: What puts your partner more at risk before, during, or after an outbreak?
Belize: Your partner is at risk before because you’re not aware that outbreak is active. During an outbreak, because the outbreak is fully active and present. Your partner is at a lower risk after because you will wait until all symptoms are cleared up before having sexual intercourse again. I stress that you always pay attention to your triggers to reduce any outbreaks. Also knowing your symptoms that you experience when an outbreak coming on. You can reduce your transmission.
Cherlnell: What’s the best way to have oral sex with someone who’s infected with genital herpes? Or to perform it if you have oral?
Belize: The best want to have oral sex with herpes is to prevent receiving or performing when you have an outbreak or any symptoms. You can use dental dam or condoms to reduce transmission as well. If you and your partner agree not to use protection just make sure he/she understand the risk.
Cherlnell: What’s the best way to ask your partner their status or to get tested?
Belize: The best way to ask your partner status is before any sexual activity including kissing. It makes it easier to have the conservation before anything has happened between you two. You can simply ask when was the last time you were tested. It's an uncomfortable conversation and time is never right. So take the opportunity when you two are getting to know each other.
Cherlnell: When and how should you reveal your status to a potential partner?
Belize: First I will say sharing your status is one of the main fears for individuals living with herpes. This is the reason many people struggle with living with herpes. I recommend disclosing when you’re clear a relationship is being established or you’re sexually interested in that person. You don't have to share when you don't want a relationship or have sex with that person. The best way to share your status is: I want to share with you something that happen in my past. Don't ever say I want to tell you something. The word tell has developed a bad new alert. Then say I contracted herpes or HSV when (tell your story how you contracted the virus). You always want to share your story. People connect with stories and it helps kill the stigma associated with herpes.
Cherlnell: What is the biggest misconception associated with herpes?
Belize: The misconception of individuals living with herpes is he/she is Promiscuous. So not true at all. Most of the individuals that contract herpes are in relationships.
Cherlnell: What is something you think every person without herpes should know about herpes and people who have it?/ Every person with it?
Belize: I want people to know that herpes is very common and not included in the std panel. I want individuals living with herpes that it's not the end of the world.
Cherlnell: How can people get in touch with you and find out more about the work you do?
Belize: Check out my social media platforms YouTube: Belize Samuel, IG: Belize.Samuel and Facebook: Belize Samuel
Thanks for allowing me to share about herpes today. I hope I give someone hope to live on and to protect themselves.