Tuesday, May 29, 2007

University Of Washington, I Will Always Love Thee

From the department of: TMI That Can Ever-So-Tangentially Be Related To College Athletics...

So in early March Kanu, being the responsible sexually active adult that he is, rolls down to the SF City Clinic to partake in a battery of STD tests. A few days later he checks the results online, and all are negative {yay!} with one exception: HSV2 {genital herpes} says "low positive".

{Sound of needle coming off the record}.


WTF? WTF does "low positive" mean?

A few hours of panicky internet searching later, I learn that the test that was performed on me is called an MRL EIA test, and that it produces a number: if the number is 0-1 the result is negative, 1-3 is low positive, and 3+ is full on positive. I also learn that this test is not type specific, in that is does not differentiate between HSV1 {oral herpes} & HSV2 {genital herpes}, and that it is not nearly the most reliable test, especially when it comes to "low positive" HSV2 results. Furthermore, I learn that the gold standard of HSV tests is called Western Blotting which was discovered/set up by the University Of Washington Dept. Of Virology and is absolutely definitive. Fuck this MRL EIA bullshit, I want the UW test.

So I setup a meeting with the head of the clinic, and she informs me that low positives are rare- about 10% of all tests. The other 90% are either negative or off the charts positive, a number well over 5. I find that my result means one of 3 things: 1) I was recently exposed and the virus hasn't built up enough yet to fully register; if I were to wait 3 months and take the MRL EIA test again, if this were the case then my reading would be full on positive 2) there is a cross contamination of results where the patient really has HSV1 but it shows up in the MRL EIA test as HSV2 falsely 3) My MRL EIA test is a false positive. The Western Blotting test is only done at one lab in the world, at University of Washington where it was developed, so they took my blood again, I stroked a check to the Huskies for $120, and they sent my blood off to Seattle. Here's the fun part- I had to wait three weeks for the result.

My sexual self esteem is in your hands now, UW.

I am good at may things, and waiting long periods of time is not one of them: I had already been mildly freaked out about this for a week, and now I had to wait for 3 more. In the meantime I spent oodles of time online researching Herpes and wondering whether I had HSV1, HSV2, or nothing at all. Fun times. I wasn't even really worried about the physical effects on my body, since 70% of people with herpes never show symptoms, and those that do just have a few outbreaks a year that go away after a week- it's not like my health would really be in any jeopardy. But being a virus, once you have it, you have it, and you take it to the grave, unlike some of the others like Gonnarhea and Syphilis which sound like they suck pretty bad but with treatment and medicine can be completely eliminated in a few weeks. However, the social stigma of knowing that you have genital herpes would pretty much suck because so few people are educated about it, and I was pretty bummed out thinking about the stark possibility of a life where 4 out of 5 third dates end with an awkward conversation and a freaked out girl running for the hills.

So after 3 weeks, it seemed like all of the available research on low positive MRL EIA tests meant that I had about a 50/50 chance of being false positive for HSV2. On the other hand, one out of 4 adults in North America has HSV2 {and 2/3 of them don't even know it because they never show symptoms} and 50% of Americans have HSV1 by age 15 and 80% have HSV1 by age 55. So by the end of the 3 weeks I was thinking that the likelihood of me having HSV2 or HSV1 was greater than the chance of me not having either, and I stressed about the HSV2 pretty hard.

Anyhow, my Western Blotting test results came back last week: No sign of HSV2 antibodies in my blood according to the UW test, which again is the definitive gold standard of herpes tests. Furthermore, no antibodies of HSV1 in my blood either, which considering the numbers is actually a bit of a suprise considering more than 50% of adults have it and I have made out with way more than 2 adult women in my "career". So my MRL EIA test was a false positive after all. Sweet, sweet relief. Oh, and thanks to all the girls out there over the years who did have HSV1 and didn't know it for not making out with me when they were rocking a cold sore or open cut in their mouth.

A thousand thank yous and "Go Dawgs"
{yes, they say it too, just not quite as fervently}

So I'd like to thank the SF City Clinic for the false positive MRL EIA Herpes test that turned me into an anxious stressball for an entire month.

But I would really and truly like to thank the Nerd Virology Department at The University Of Washington for developing and administering the gold standard herpes test that is both type specific as well as definitive beyond doubt.

So pretty much, all other things being equal, I will always root for UW to win any football game or athletic contest in which they are involved, and I am forever indebted to my Dawg brethren from the great Northwest for allowing future third dates to be filled with non-awkward funtime.

One day I will take in a game here, and try to payback the
service that UW provided me by rooting the Huskies to victory.

One good thing about this whole experience is that I learned a hell of a lot about STDs and Herpes specifically, and looking back I was pretty ignorant about it and them. It is basically totally manageable and in the grand scheme of things relatively harmless, but unfortunately the social stigma is there for most people who are not at all aware just how prevalent it is. All of this newfound knowledge should help me continue to be happy, healthy, and safe.

So to sum up that entire long-ass post:

"I don't have herpes. Yay UW!"

I won't put any links here, but use the internet search engine of your choice to educate yourself and be safe if you are single and like to mingle. And all you faithfully married folks, be thankful that you don't have to deal with this shit.


DC Tojan said...

Husky Stadium is LOUD. I was there a few years ago for an SC - Washington game. As visiting fans, we weren't in the full line of fire of the built-up stands, and my ears were ringing well before the end of the first quarter... mind you, I got a break when the locals started leaving in the 4th quarter because the Huskies were getting spanked.

Not as loud as my gold standard of loud (Ultra Bide at Lupo's in Providence, if you're wondering), but noisy nonetheless.

Oh, and enjoy those third dates. I haven't been on one of those since about 1993, I think. Damn that's a long time.

Kanu said...

Yes, I have heard from many sources over the years that the acoustics at Husky Stadium are completely insane, especially back in the 90s when they were really good. Which is just nutty considering that neither end zone is enclosed. I have heard it attributed to the roof bouncing all the sound back down- agree or disagree?

Either way I hope to catch a game up there sometime myself. And a night game at Autzen as well, hopefully before Georgia plays at Oregon in 2014.

DC Trojan said...

It might be the roof design, but it might also just be the fans: they are pretty enthusiastic... I think if your frame of reference is the SEC, all Pac 10 fans look a little lackadaisical, but not every stadium is full of people who arrive late and leave early (ahem).

Thistle71 is the one to ask about Autzen, but I'd like to see a game there too: preferably u-Dub or Oregon State, so I could join rather than suffer the hate.