Charity: Herpes Viruses Association
We are a patient support organisation, run by patients, only two of whom are paid. We offer a helpline (calls charged at local rate), website, leaflets and quarterly journals about herpes simplex (genital herpes and cold sores) talks and workshops in London. The helpline gets about 5,000 calls a year. It is run by trained volunteers who can answer medical questions on the condition as well as counsel people with the psychological worries that sometimes affect people. Our website gets 450,000 visitors a year. Only one person in three who has herpes simplex is aware that they have it. The few people who get diagnosed bear the brunt of the 'herpes stigma' that has been found to be second only to HIV in the level of perceived stigma. For the minority who have severe symptoms, we advise on treatment: self-help and prescribed medication. We have run trials to find which complementary therapies do have a benefit and which are ‘snake-oil’.. Subscribers receive quarterly journals, leaflets and seminars dealing with all aspects of the virus from ‘too many recurrences’ to ‘talking about this with a new partner’. Social events are organised by members outside London. We help the medical establishment by providing training talks to staff, as well as cards, leaflets and booklets for their patients. Since people calling our helpline can talk for as long as they wish, this lessens the burden on Sexual Health Clinics’ advisers. We assist the media in obtaining the facts and case histories The bulk of our funding has always come from people we have helped. This is however not adequate. As we are not an ‘attractive cause’, we seek free-thinking people – or charitable trusts - to fund us.