Unsightly cold sores do more than make lips look bad

Results of a new survey released at the first-ever national GBLT health conference, Out and Healthy, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) provides new insights into the HSV-1 cold sore virus, including information on transmission awareness around the virus as well as the external triggers of cold sore outbreaks.

Of U.S. adults (ages 18 and over) who self-identify as gay, only about one third of those who suffer from cold sores are aware that HSV-1, the virus that causes cold sores, can be transmitted from the lips to the genital area which may result in HSV-1 genital herpes. The Out & Healthy Conference created a dialogue and raised awareness about important health issues impacting the gay community including this transmission information about the herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Because of the low rate of awareness in general about the HSV-1 cold sore virus and its potential for transmission to the genitals, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare commissioned a survey of gay men to better gauge their understanding of the herpes simplex virus.

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive® and commissioned by GSK Consumer Healthcare, specifically asked gay men about their awareness of cold sores and the HSV-1 virus and found a low awareness among gay men. The results of the survey are being used by GSK Consumer Healthcare to help educate cold sore sufferers about the issue.

According to the survey of gay men, 30 percent of respondents who experienced cold sore outbreaks (outside the mouth) got them once in the past 12 months while another 33 percent of gay men cold sore sufferers experienced them two times or more per year.

Cold sores often are painful and typically last between eight and ten days if left untreated. A variety of stimuli are identified as cold sore triggers including fatigue, stress, cold weather, hormones, illnesses such as colds or flu, physical trauma and the sun. Prolonged or excessive exposure to UV rays, whether natural or artificial, can irritate the area around the mouth and cause a cold sore outbreak.

When asked what triggers their cold sores, 68 percent of the gay male respondents who experience cold sores cited stress as their main cold sore trigger. Gay cold-sore sufferers also reported that colds/flu (42%) and fatigue (25%), were most often associated with their cold sore outbreaks.

An article in Sexually Transmitted Infections Journal (May 2007) explains how in the past decade investigations document an increase in frequency of genital HSV-1 herpes compared with what most people know as genital herpes that stem from the HSV-2 infection. Explanations about the increased frequency of HSV-1 genital infections include a rise in the reporting rates of oral-genital contact among men who have sex with men.

In addition, researchers have discovered that those suffering from cold sores may experience feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and vulnerability all due to reoccurring cold sores and lesions. Cold sore outbreaks may cause sufferers to become withdrawn and anxious.

Photo courtesy of Joe Eats World

Slane Irish Whiskey bottles

Disclaimer: My trip was provided courtesy of a press trip but all opinions about the trip and events are my own. Please note there are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you make a purchase.

Keep reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Mental Health for LGBTQ+ Aging Adults

Queer elders have made a big impact on the world. Queer folks over the age of 65 were around during the Stonewall Movement in the 1960s and may have even campaigned to improve the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ+ people around the world.

But, as queer elders enter later life, they may need to find new ways to protect and preserve their mental health.

Keep reading Show less
Photo courtesy of Erkin Athletics

B37 Massage Gun Review

Disclaimer: This product has been tested and reviewed by our writer and any views or opinions are their own. Please note there are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase.

Keep reading Show less