Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Herpes social club offers support

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 9:15 AM

click to enlarge herpes_alone-300x158.jpg

If you've been diagnosed with herpes or HPV, you may think your social life is over.

When a person has a sexually transmitted disease, people don't rally around them like they do cancer patients. Many people feel guilty and isolated. Pam  knows that feeling and she didn't want others in Charlotte to feel that way. That's why she started the Charlotte H Club in 2005.

"The group is basically a social and support group for anybody that has been diagnosed with Herpes and HPV," she said. "About 1 in 4 adults have genital herpes and one in two adults have some strain of the HPV virus."

Joining the club is private and Pam said the website is password protected. "There is such a social stigma against the viruses."

When Pam moved to Charlotte from Florida, she created the group because she didn't know anyone in the area and there was an active group in her hometown.

By word of mouth and Goggle searches, the group has about 1,000 members. Monthly, Pam said, the members get together for dinner and socials. Of course, all 1,000 members don't show up.

The Charlotte H club allows people to talk about handling their disease and it gives the members a chance to date. Pam said some members have become more than friends as a result of the group. And members who date someone that doesn't have herpes or HPV, they get to talk about their fears of telling their potential partner that they have the STD.

"People post things commonly like, 'I just got diagnosed, I feel like my life is over, please help.' Somebody who has had it for 10 years can e-mail them back and say I've been there, I'm happily married now and I had a baby who is perfectly healthy. It's really stressful because you don't know how people are going to handle it," she said.

Pam said what's great about the people in the group is that they are dealing with their disease and being socially responsible about it.

"There are a lot of people who get diagnosed and move on as if it's no big deal," she said. "They keep sleeping around and not informing their partners. It's scary to tell somebody new and getting yelled at, especially if it's somebody you care about."

If you need to get tested, click here.

As a footnote, Pam is married to a man who doesn't have herpes or HPV.

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