Annie's Mailbox for May 5, 2011: Need to be informed about herpes

Dear Annie: Would you please give your readers some information on herpes, both types? Can you address the fact that the lip type doesn't always stay above the waist, or the genital type below? Also, this virus can be in your body for years before it ever manifests itself. (That's when your spouse claims to have been faithful and it might be true.) And you can pass along the virus even when no lesion is showing. Thanks.

— We All Need To Be Informed

Dear Informed: There are different types of the herpes virus. Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1) is most often experienced as oral herpes (commonly known as cold sores), and Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV-2) is most often associated with genital herpes. These two types of herpes are similar, though, and either one can be found above or below the belt.

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection spread by skin-to-skin contact, meaning you can get it by having intercourse with an infected person or by having oral sex with someone who has cold sores. Symptoms of genital herpes can include tingling, itching, sores, blisters, cuts, redness, aches and pains. But it can be spread even when you don't have symptoms.

According to the American Social Health Association, it is difficult to know how long you have had genital herpes, and weeks, months or years can go by before symptoms reappear. Many with genital herpes have few or mild symptoms, and most actually do not realize they are infected — and can infect their partner.

We urge anyone who is sexually active to talk with their health care provider about herpes and other STDs to see if they recommend any tests, and anyone who is infected should use condoms consistently and correctly. You can get more detailed information through ASHA's website at ashastd.org.

Dear Annie: My husband of two years is constantly playing a computer game. When "Jon" comes home from work, he eats dinner and then sits in his recliner with his computer until he falls asleep. He'll then get up in the middle of the night to sleep in the guest room.

I'm eight weeks pregnant, and he says he doesn't want to wake me, but he's been doing this for months. On weekends, he's online from the time he gets home until late at night. We have a 3-year-old son, who craves his father's attention.

I've told him I wish he would cut back on his computer time, but he doesn't see anything wrong with it. If I plan a family night out, he'd rather stay home. We also have virtually no sex life (his choice), and he occasionally visits porn sites.

The other day, he left our house to help a friend move a piano and came home 12 hours later, drunk. His phone had conveniently died, so I was not able to reach him. He sees nothing wrong with this behavior. Please help me convince him that something needs to change.

— Desperate for Family Time

Dear Desperate: Your husband sounds just as unhappy as you. The computer, the drinking, the time helping friends are his way of escaping his responsibilities at home and avoiding the conflicting thoughts he associates with having a second child. Ask your doctor or pediatrician to refer you to a counselor who will help the two of you work through this.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Love My In-Laws, But," who invited her husband's parents for dinner, but didn't expect them to eat all the food.

I have a suggestion for her: Serve snacks or appetizers before dinner. That way the guests she invited will fill up on other things and not eat all the good stuff. Or, she can stop inviting people for dinner, and then they can have all the food for themselves. Problem solved.

— Speechless

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