While scientific knowledge about genital herpes has progressed, public attitudes seem slower to evolve. The stigma surrounding what essentially is a very common skin condition persists. This means some people initially diagnosed with herpes may experience shock , anger and distress. Once a person has been educated about the virus and has lived with the infection for sometime they are likely to have a different emotional outlook.
We aim to dispel the myths ignorance and stigma which society, both lay and professional, perpetuates.
In New Zealand 22.5% of women and 14.6% of men, by age 32, have genital herpes in NZ .(University of Otago study 2006) Eighty percent of these people do not know they have the virus as they have no symptoms or such mild symptoms they are never recognised or diagnosed. However with or without symptoms people who are infected can shed the virus from time to time and potentially infect a partner.
In 1994 The Auckland Herpes Support Group with the help of health and Medical Professionals established the Foundation in response to the need to provide accurate up to date information, support, and understanding to people diagnosed with genital herpes.
We are funded by New Zealand District Health Boards and an endowment left to the New Zealand Herpes Foundation in 2006.
- To provide for people with genital herpes, a network offering support, current educational material and management options in a caring, friendly, confidential environment.
- To liaise with health professionals, and to provide them with an educational and support network to assist in the responsible management of genital herpes.
- Ultimately to improve the social context in which people with genital herpes live their lives.
- Work alongside doctors and other health professionals to encourage the best possible response to and management of those with herpes.
- Conduct workshops on the medical management of genital herpes to ensure the best possible care of patients.
- Operate a national toll free number offering access, information and support.
- Facilitate the formation of a network of groups throughout New Zealand through which people with herpes obtain help, education and support.
- Ensure that people with herpes have appropriate information to help them discuss the condition with partners and friends.
- Distribute educational material on herpes.
- Conduct public seminars and forums on herpes to increase general awareness and understanding, and provide education and support.
- Operate a database of support groups and experienced counsellors.
Many people have found being able to meet others in the same situation and to share experiences is both supportive and normalising. Support group meetings, in conjunction with health professionals, also provide ongoing education.
The Foundation can put you in touch with your local support group or, if there is not one currently in existence in your area, the Foundation can help you establish one.
We can provide assistance with educational materials and contacts.
Structure of the Foundation
- A person living with herpes
- A health professional
- A medical representative
Ten people representing those with herpes and health professionals who support them.
Professional Advisory Board
Appointed to advise the Trust and the Executive Council on the medical management of herpes.
- Cunningham AL et al, Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Antibody in Patients Attending Antenatal or STD Clinic, Med J Aust 1993:158; 525-528
- Corey L, MD, The Current Trend in Genital Herpes, Sexually Transmitted Disease March/April; 1994 21:38-44