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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Dear Dr. Phil

My letter to Dr. Phil McGraw

I watched the show with Stephanie and the fact that she had been harboring a secret in regard to being assaulted when she was younger from her friends and family. At the end of the show, Dr. Phil mentioned "If you would like to share a story and to USE YOUR LIFE to help others, please go to www.drphil.com. I was unsuccessful when I typed in keywords "use your life" and found nothing. I searched for a separate message board on this subject as well. There are many topics which people out there are needing to "talk" about, get off their chests and not feel stigmas which have been attached by society. Things which people SHOULD NOT be shameful about. Society needs to be educated and realize what herpes is exactly. Too many people go through life, only learning about something if they have been impacted by it. I was guilty of that as well until the internet came along. I was under the impression that I wouldn't pass the virus along unless I was having an active outbreak. Well, I've learned differently. Did you know that 90% of people out there that have genital herpes don't even know that they have it because they don't get any signs or symptoms? Did you know that herpes is not included in the routine std testing process? Many people don't realize this and I feel we need to do whatever we can to bring more light to the subject.

My "use my life" topic is in regard to the fact that I have genital herpes and for me, it's a "skin condition" but the emotional issues and stigma's attached to it can be overwhelming, in fact I've even heard of folks committing suicide because they felt as though they would never be loved or be able to be intimate or sexual with another person. Over what?? A cold sore located "down yonder", but sadly society has said . . . it's not a good thing, but I along with a whole lot of other people have come to understand that having herpes is NOT the end of the world.

I encourage one of your staff members to join a yahoo group (which I personally help to moderate) for additional information and education on this topic, to understand what those of us who go through having herpes, dating issues, etc. The group is called Picking Up the Pieces.

We also have several members who are on Picking Up the Pieces, who have HPV (human papillomavirus). The site admin of Picking Up the Pieces also created a website which has tons of valuable information as well as true stories written by people who live with genital herpes and oral herpes (reminder: the common cold sore is herpes) each day. You will gain alot of insight by reading many of the true inspirational stories.

Many in the herpes community are ready to step up to the plate, be a member of the audience or one which Dr. Phil might possibly interview on stage, in order to help squash the negative stigma associated with herpes. I personally would love to fill each and every audience seat with people who have herpes, just to show the world, that herpes does not discriminate. It's time for a change and we would like to help others out there to realize they are NOT ALONE. We do have several members though, who have not yet gotten to the point in their herpes journey where they feel comfortable "outing" themselves on national television and that's OK. I know that the Dr. Phil show producers will respect their privacy. Everyone deals with and accepts having herpes at their own pace. I am proud to say, that by having this "Pick Up" board available to those who have herpes has been a godsend for them. If you'll read through the past posts, you'll see many people indicate how grateful they are to all of the information we provide.

We continually refer people to the "Updated Herpes Handbook" which Terri Warren is affiliated with and also answers medical questions about herpes over on WebMD. In my opinion, she would be an excellent candidate as a guest speaker for the show. Other people who I know I can speak for from our community and who would be willing to speak on the show, would be the other two moderators from Picking Up the Pieces, Gayla (who speaks to Doctors at conferences) along with Angela who is also known as yoshi2me and is a Patient Advocate.

In regard to celebrity figures who "supposedly" have genital herpes, I would love to see them step up to the plate and help to spread awareness. I believe it would be beneficial for all of us. The more we can spread herpes awareness, the better it is for everyone and anyone. I did a google search on the keywords "celebrities with herpes". I realize that gossip is gossip, but some of you on staff at Dr. Phil, might have already had interactions with some of these people in the past and might be able to approach them, to verify if this information is true and to see if they'd be willing to help the rest of our community. Coming from The Dr. Phil Show, they might be more willing to help the rest of us out, than we as an anonymous group. (Ann Heche is one name who comes to mind, along with Robin Williams). Mind you, I honestly don't know or even care if they do or don't but that's what the rumor mill has put out there, so I'm sure it's not news to them and if they can help others to "cope" with it, I think they'd be willing to speak and help spread the awareness. Who better than someone who has walked a mile in those shoes.

Also, I'd like to add, that Dr. Ruth, recently wrote a book I'm sure she wouldn't mind having some exposure on called: "Dr. Ruth's Guide to Talking about Herpes".

Recently Michael Vick, (you can read his situation here) due to his ongoing law suit which has been made quite public, I'm not sure how much light he would be able to shed on this or if he'd even be interested, but if he knew the herpes community was behind him, that would be a plus for him. I bet it would be good for him too, to be reminded that he was not alone. My big question to the gal who is trying to sue him is "Did she have her full STD testing done, prior to engaging in sexual activities with him?" Probably not, but in the end, all of us are responsible for our own sexual health and need to be aware and responsible.

People who are diagnosed with herpes, needs someplace to turn for support and yoshi2me has created a web page, linking to Herpes H Pals. Here is my personal contribution to the H Pal Program.

So there you have it. I've given you lots of ideas as to how to formulate an awesome show on the topic of genital herpes and to help spread herpes awareness which is needed very badly. This virus NEEDS to be talked about. In the end, having herpes is not the end of the world for me. I've had it for 17 + years and I have basically quit counting because I've finally accepted having it within myself. I am so much more than herpes and so is anyone and everybody else who might have it. Our internet community is vast. It extends across the waters as well in regard to support and friendship. There are support groups nationwide in almost all major cities where people can go for friendship and support.

Feel free to contact any of those people who I have mentioned above. All of these people have already put themselves out there on the internet and would welcome a new opportunity to continue spreading awareness. They will all be eager to help and all feel that not only Herpes Awareness but STD Awareness is vital to the health and well being of not only adults, but teens as well.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my letter and your consideration on doing a show on this topic. I'm sure you will touch alot of people who are living in fear and silence about this by bringing it to the forefront. This is my opportunity to "Use My Life" to help other people.


Luanne L.

43 years old from Northwestern Pennsylvania

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Friday, November 04, 2005 7:12:00 AM  

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