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Herpes can be devastating, but treatment and testing remain sparse

Herpes can be devastating, but treatment and testing remain sparse

Some men have told her in no uncertain terms that they would never date someone with herpes, but what also bothers her are those who say, “I’m so sorry this happened to you.”

“I don’t want people to feel sorry for me,” she said. “I wake up every day and I’m fine.”

Scientists have been working on herpes vaccines in batches since the 1970s, said Dr. Harvey Friedman, a medical professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine who has studied the disease for over 40 years. But previous attempts have failed for reasons researchers are still trying to uncover.

Because herpes has been around for so long, the viruses have evolved alongside us, making eradication more difficult, said Christine Johnston, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine who has studied herpes.

New vaccines are in development. dr Friedman is working with BioNTech on an HSV-2 vaccine candidate, which was given to the first human in December. But none are in late-stage clinical trials, said Dr. Ina Park, professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of “Strange Bedfellows: Adventures in the Science, History, and Surprising Secrets of Sexually Transmitted Diseases” “There’s nothing quite like prime time” , she said.

When Ella Dawson, 30, contracted HSV-1 genitally in college, she began posting openly about her diagnosis on social media. To her surprise, people from the lumber mill came to share their stories—friends, relatives, even a cashier who worked at the on-campus grocery store. Many told her they had never shared their diagnosis with anyone other than a sexual partner.

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