To provide a safe, confidential environment in which persons having the herpes simplex virus can obtain accurate information and share their experiences with others who have this infection.
To provide emotional support and assist individuals in choosing how best to live with the herpes simplex virus.
To help individuals overcome the shock of being diagnosed with genital herpes and the accompanying depression, anger, fear of rejection, and sense of loneliness that usually develops after such a diagnosis.
To provide a forum of spontaneous discussions and intimate sharing in which individuals can move from the panic and anger attendant upon diagnosis to an acceptance and understanding of the virus and, on a deeper level, to a better understanding of themselves and the human condition.
To reduce the social stigma that accompanies this STD, and in so doing contribute to the reduction of all manner and varieties of social stigmas.
What We Have Done:
HELP of Washington has been at the forefront of the effort to reduce the public stigma associated with herpes. HELP of Washington facilitators and members have made public appearances and participated in international conferences, educational videos, and numerous nationally-televised discussions of herpes and other STDs.
A half-dozen HELP members were interviewed for two educational videos released by Glaxo-Wellcome. One video is for medical professionals; one is for patients.
A HELP member traveled to Switzerland and England to help develop physician protocols that address the emotional needs of herpes patients. As a result of these appearances, he wrote a chapter for a forthcoming medical textbook.
A HELP facilitator appeared at an international conference of medical practitioners in Switzerland to discuss the role of support groups in overcoming the social stigma associated with herpes. She also participated in a national conference of HELP facilitators where she challenged others to follow the example of HELP of Washington and "show the public that we are not victims of a shameful silent epidemic, but that we can and do lead normal lives."
She also contributed an article to the first issue of Herpes, an international journal for medical professionals, on why you should tell a partner.
Three HELP members appeared on The Phil Donahue Show to tell a national TV audience that there is a normal life after herpes.
A HELP of Washington facilitator has discussed herpes on the local cable TV health program HealthLink, on nationally-syndicated TV health and medicine programs, and on CNN's Sonya Live.