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What Men Should Know

I Kissed an STI and I Liked It!

Okay, let me explain: I was somewhere in the bundus of Magaliesburg at a gay-organised hike. Being the gay male rendition of Bridget Jones, I managed to drop my water bottle and sunscreen in the dust on disembarking my vehicle. Looking up, my eyes met with a pair of sneakers parked in front of me and as I scanned up the muscular legs that seemed to blossom out of them, I came face-to-face with a vision of a man.  I’ll call him Armandt.

He introduced himself to me, and to my butterflies-inducing delight, mentioned that he was a fan of the cabaret shows I had recently performed at various gay venues across the country.

He ended up walking beside me for the entire hike, and my friends (because they are true friends) sporting wicked grins, kept a healthy distance to let nature take its course.  He was so attentive and was actually quite icy to another guy who tried to chat to me on the walk.  Possessive and jealous isn’t really my vibe, but this guy (a personal trainer from Boksburg – I KID YOU NOT!) was ridiculously attractive and I could not believe that he was not only interested in me but was making it crystal clear to all the other guys on the hike.  My usually half-mast ego was flapping at full throttle.

It wasn’t a very long affair (I am referring to the amount of time we sort of dated).  The sex was great, I could scrub laundry on his abdomen crack ostrich eggs on his bubble butt and it was novel being seen in public with a guy that made every other Mavis rubberneck in disbelief that he was with me, but that’s where it ended.  We didn’t have much to say to each other after the ‘huffing and puffing’ was done and the novelty of the endless cycle of protein shakes, dry tuna, parched chicken fillets and tasteless brown rice quickly began to lose its appeal. We both decided to part ways.

The thing is that when we first got together, he had a little fever blister in the corner of his mouth and I thought nothing of it attaching myself to his face for hours at a time.  Fast forward a week later at the Grahamstown Festival and I am sporting a massive red scabby blister on my mouth, which I am sure completely upstaged my performances in the terrible mini-musical I had been roped into performing in that year (the show was a shocker, but the less said about it the better!)

Anyhoo, what ended up being the not so happy ending? My now ex Muscle-Mary from the Far East had left me with a parting gift, the herpes simplex virus and I was NOT impressed.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Roughly 2/3rds of the world’s population has cold sores or a strand of herpes called HSV-1 (labial or mouth herpes)


  • Once you have it, you have it for life. It cannot be “cured” although the sores can be treated


  • Most people get it during childhood!


  • A lot of people have it but don’t show symptoms or get sores (lucky what-whats!)


  • It can pop up or be spread to other parts of the body like your nose and tongue


  • Stress, the weather, sunburn and high acidity can all trigger a cold sore if you have the virus


  • You can pass it on even if there are no sores visible on your mouth anymore, but a visible sore makes it even easier to pass on


  • Oral herpes can be spread to the genitals and vice versa (this is kak news, I know, sorry)


  • The stigma around it can be worse than the symptoms. Don’t shame people with cold sores.  You may have the virus and just not know it, as most people who have it don’t know they have it, and most people do have it


  • It can be treated! You can get prescription pills, ointments and supplements that can help to heal your sores quicker.  Chat to your pharmacist, clinician or dermatologist about it

Sometimes you have to kiss a frog to get a Prince, and sometimes that Prince can turn you into a frog, temporarily.  I have no regrets – he was delicious!


Bruce J. Little is the Content Creator for Anova Health Institute.