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I Hope You Correct Your Mistakes

My name is Colene, and I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. While I did not see the February 13, 2004 edition of "The View" the comments of several of the hosts were brought to my attention, and I feel the need to comment to you about them.

Why would I feel the need to comment to you about that show? I like 25 percent of the population of Canada and the United States have a Genital Herpes infection. I found that reading Joy Behar's comments left me feeling that responsible journalism was not practiced here.

First - and this is VERY important - Herpes Simplex Virus (Types 1 or 2) are carried by over 80% of the population of Canada and the United States. So, in essence, through not having her facts straight, Ms. Behar just called 80% plus of your viewers "losers". I do not consider myself to be a loser, despite the fact that I have HSV-2, and I'd really like to tell you why.

I'm a 34 year old mother of a 12 year old son. I am employed full-time as a bilingual support analyst for two stockbroker firms. I live alone, pay my own bills, and I am a person both capable of and deserving of love, acceptance, and respect. Having Herpes does not define me as a person, and I refuse to allow anyone to use it to define who I am or whether or not I deserve the same respect as any other person.

Second, I have actually tried to get Dr. Phil to do a show on HSV, in order to try and dispel the myths and ignorance that exist - not just within general society but also in the medical community. In my own life, I have had the experience of being misdiagnosed, refused the drugs needed to treat my illness, and judged by a medical professional for having a chronic illness that I neither chose to become infected with, nor was given the option to refuse being infected with.

Another woman I know with Genital Herpes - someone that Ms. Behar would classify as a "loser" - got Herpes from being kidnapped, forcibly confined, and repeatedly sexually assaulted over a two-day period. Not only did this woman survive her ordeal, but she had the strength to put her rapist behind bars for the rest of his life, and she has been able to move on with her life and have relationships with men again. If I had to find a TRUE definition of COURAGE, this woman I just described to you is it. Sadly, Ms. Behar considers her a "loser".

While I find myself very angry over the complete ignorance and lack of education with which you tackled this issue on "The View", I also see an opportunity. That opportunity is to correct the mistakes made and really educate the public about HSV. If the CDC statistics are to be believed, by the year 2025 over 50% of the populations of Canada and the United States will have contracted Genital Herpes. There is no need for that to happen if information is made available to doctors and the public. And there is no need for people with Genital Herpes to hide their illness because the media helps promote a culture of ignorance and discrimination.

The choice is in your hands right now. You can leave this situation as it is, and continue to perpetuate the ignorance and discrimination that have hurt in many ways people like myself, or you can apologize for the mistakes made and correct the situation by doing a factually accurate and respectful show about Herpes and the people who have it.


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