Just when I thought the Coachella 2019 coverage was really, truly over, leave it to herpes to come in and ruin everything. The internet was blowing up this morning after TMZ posted a report that this year’s festival was responsible for a major spike in people seeking treatment for herpes. At first glance, it’s a funny story, because Coachella is basically two weeks of people getting f*cked up and making poor decisions in the desert. It would make sense that a disease as common as herpes would thrive in this kind of environment, but this whole story is actually just nonsense.
The source of the report is HerpAlert, a website that offers “online treatment and diagnosis” for herpes. Basically, people send pictures of their junk, and then a professional reviews the pics and decides if you have herpes. Sounds legit! According to HerpAlert, they usually only handle about 12 cases a day, but during the first two days of Coachella, their numbers soared close to 250. Also, since the start of Coachella this year, they’ve had over 1,100 cases in Palm Springs and the surrounding areas, including LA and San Diego.
While these numbers are definitely enough to get anyone’s attention, they’re pretty misleading when it comes to what herpes is actually like. Honestly, I know this stuff from my 9th grade health class, but we got some info from Dr. Robert Huizenga just to be sure. Dr. Huizenga is a physician, sexual health expert, and the author of Sex, Lies, & STDs. Basically, he knows what’s up when it comes to herpes.
First of all, the most important thing to note is that the initial spike in HerpAlert patients occurred during the first two days of the festival, which does not add up with the timeline of the onset of herpes. Dr. H says that it takes herpes symptoms three to seven days after contact to appear. Given that Coachella is a three-day festival and many of these “cases” were submitted only during day two, that is not enough time to have contracted the herpes virus while at Coachella, no matter how many people you hooked up with on the camp grounds. It just does not compute.
Second of all, and more importantly, Dr. H notes that you can’t diagnose herpes with a blood test until 14 to 30 days after contact. Sores or rashes can show up before that, and could in theory be diagnosed with this picture-sending app, but it’s not as reliable as getting an actual blood test done. Seeing as it has barely been 14 days since weekend one of Coachella, it’s very unlikely that over a thousand people all contracted herpes at the festival. If anything, this whole “Coachella herpes outbreak” story is probably just proof that people are misinformed about sexual health (or wore too much glitter near their junk and are paranoid), rather than any indicator that there’s a major herpes outbreak in Indio.
Coachella Tip: The chick with the glitter eyeshadow wearing a bikini top and feathers is totally down to hook up/give you herpes.
— caprice crane (@capricecrane) April 10, 2015
Of course, everyone should go get tested regularly, whether or not they’ve been having sex in the desert, and use protection. Maybe next year Coachella should send out STI informational brochures along with the wristbands. And after you get tested, take a moment to send prayers to the poor doctor who had to review all the pictures of dirty junk that influencers were sending during Coachella. Yikes.
Images: Daniel Dvorsky / Unsplash; Giphy; @capricecrane / Twitter
If anything can immediately make you regret every time you’ve deigned to let someone take off your Lululemons, it’s the phrase sexually transmitted disease. Honestly, just typing it is enough to make me want to pop a Xanax and wear a chastity belt until STD rates go down, which should be soon since apparently our generation isn’t having any sex. Go figure.
But just because some millennials are going through a dry spell doesn’t mean we all are, and that means STDs are an actual concern on top of all the other shit that comes with being half an adult. (Read:
paying taxes scanning your W2 and emailing it to your accountant and showing up for work often enough to not get fired.) Terrifyingly, the CDC reported last fall that chlamydia, gonorrhea (aka the clap), and syphilis rates have all skyrocketed among 15- to 24-year-olds, and it’s probably thanks to lack of education. I would say we should have paid better attention to health in high school, but everybody knows American sex ed is about as useful as a broken condom. Or one you put on wrong because you had shitty sex ed.
So what are your actual chances of getting chlamydia and dying? Here are the most common STDs in the U.S. to give you anxiety when you go to sleep tonight.
1. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
Because the world is a terrible place, the same kind of virus that gives you gross warts is also the most common STD. According to the CDC, HPV is so common nearly everybody gets it at some point in their lives, and there are approximately a bajillion different kinds. Most strains are symptomless, but sometimes they can start causing issues like genital warts and fucking cancer after a few years. *Cries* The problem is that by then, it’s been so long and the disease is so common it’s impossible to know which fuckboy is responsible
so you can go strangle him in his sleep, but even if you caught that shit right away there isn’t even a way to test for HPV in men. THANKS, PATRIARCHY.
The good news is HPV usually goes away on its own, so at least you’re not stuck with it forever. Unless you get the kind that gives you cancer. You might even live in blissful ignorance, because doctors don’t usually start testing for HPV until you’re 30 anyway. So basically you got those three Gardasil shots when you were 15 and had a sore arm for a week for nothing, because you’ll still probably get HPV but hopefully not the kind that gives you warts or cancer. This is your life; just accept it now.
Chlamydia had its first 15 minutes of fame thanks to Mean Girls, and now it’s back in the spotlight as the second most common STD in the U.S. AND the most commonly reported one. (HPV doesn’t count because it’s usually symptomless so it goes undetected a lot of the time—apologies for your impending anxiety attack.) It’s especially common in young women between 20 and 24 years old, which is why so many of your sorority sisters had it at one point.
Chlamydia is honestly not a big fucking deal, but it CAN give you pelvic inflammatory disease if you let it stick around too long, which is why you should listen to those billboards you see everywhere and get tested regularly. If you DO feel symptoms—which most people don’t—it’s mostly burning when you urinate and a weird discharge, so like, nothing too drastic. I’ve had yeast infections that were probably worse. Also, it’s treatable with antibiotics, #bless.
WTF is some disease nobody’s ever heard of doing so high on the list? Apparently, there were more than a million cases of trichomoniasis in 2013, and I would honestly like to know who these people are that are spreading and contracting this mystery disease. Anyway, like all these other diseases, this one’s mostly symptomless, but it’s caused by a protozoan parasite which sounds like the beginning of a horror movie. If you start showing symptoms, it’s mostly itching, discharge, and maybe a funny smell. So basically go to the doctor next time stuff is weird downstairs because there might be a parasite swimming around. Casual. But before you call Amy Adams (that was the plot of Arrival, right?), according to WebMD aka the official source of 99% of my anxiety attacks, 9 out of 10 cases of trichowhatever are cured by a single round of antibiotics. Fab.
There’s no justice in the world: Of the 800,000 new cases of gonorrhea each year, women are more likely to report it than men. Is that just because we’re like, actually responsible and proactive about our sexual health? That’s my personal working theory. Anyway. The good/bad news is that the symptoms are—shocker—discharge and burning when you pee for women, and we usually don’t have any issues at all. So like, if you think you have a UTI/yeast infection combo, don’t buy a bunch of Monistat and cranberry pills at CVS and go to the doctor to be sure. Dudes, on the other hand, are way more likely to have symptoms like painful urination and swollen balls. I’m not taking joy in their pain, but I’m also not not taking joy in their pain…
Gonorrhea is supposedly treatable with antibiotics, but apparently it’s becoming harder to treat because it’s becoming resistant to the usual medicine. So I think it’s fair to say that gonorrhea will be what kills us all. Not ISIS. Not nuclear war. The fucking clap. Start stocking your bunkers now.
Thank the fucking Lord herpes is number five on the list, because it’s literally untreatable. But you didn’t need me to tell you that since it’s probably already the source of most of your nightmares. ICYMI, genital herpes is basically cold sores for your vagine—except usually more painful and unpleasant. You know the drill by now, it’s usually symptomless, but if you have symptoms, it’s bad news bears. First, you get blisters, then they burst and leave super sores. Then you may have to deal with outbreaks for the rest of your life and worrying if anyone will ever have sex with you again and how soon you should tell the guy you’re seeing that you have herpes and is the first date too soon and do you have to sign up for one of those herpes dating sites and does anyone have a paper bag I can hyperventilate into? And it’s all because some dick (pun fucking intended—and that one too, wow I’m so meta) gave you herpes. I am not a lawyer but I think this is one of those cases where “justifiable homicide” would apply.
Only about 50,000 people get syphilis every year because this isn’t the 1700s anymore, but it’s scary enough that it still bears mentioning. There are four stages: first it shows up as a painless sore, then it’s a rash, then it goes away. Most people with syphilis are happily stuck in the third stage, but sometimes it keeps developing into a fourth stage where you go blind and die horribly, or, the bacteria goes to your brain and eats holes in it like Swiss cheese and you end up going poastal and killing four children and ending up on death row for murder. I saw that in an episode of SVU one time, so it’s 100% factual.
I’m not a soulless monster, so even I will refrain from making fun of HIV. That shit kills people. I’ll just leave you with a reminder that there are still about 40,000 new diagnoses in the U.S. every year, so when some health organization offers to test you for free, take them up on it. Also like, stay away from intravenous drugs. For many reasons.
I’m not your mom, but don’t be an idiot or you might get syphilis and die.