Vanity Fair profiles The eXile: "Gutsy...visceral...serious journalism...abusive, defamatory...poignant...paranoid...and right!"
MSNBC: Mark Ames and Yasha Levine
Broke the Koch Brothers' Takeover of America
eXile Classic / April 20, 2007
Which chick scares you more from a public health perspective?

Spring is here and so are migrant birds. That means another bout of bird-flu media-frenzy. H5N1 was supposed to be a pandemic, remember? The Bubonic Plague without borders. Millions would die, cooked alive in their own skin. But other than a few lousy peasants dropping dead here and there, nothing has happened. In box office terms, the flu is a flop. Millions spent on the greatest fear marketing campaign and nothing to back it up. Sure, H5N1 could still mutate into a form that allowed it to spread between humans. But I say let’s worry about it when it happens.

Bird-flu is typical of the kind of disease hype we have to put up with. Take the HIV scare. That virus is a great piece of evolutionary sculpting: a virus that doesn’t actually kill its host, but weakens its immunity just enough to allow other infectious diseases to enter it, wreck havoc and finally finish it off. HIV is almost honorable. You could call it the affirmative action virus: It gives everyday street thugs like the common cold and pneumonia a full scholarship to your body and a chance to succeed. The virus was scary. But now we know that HIV’s been isolated to a few high-risk groups and a whole class of third world countries. Everyone talks about Africa’s AIDS epidemic. But go to Africa and you’ll see that AIDS is just one of thousands of diseases and parasites they have to deal with.

Meanwhile, there are millions of diseases out there that make AIDS look like jock itch. Most of them aren’t as deadly, but that’s the point. They are smarter than that, and more evil. Their only purpose is to feed off you, replicate and keep you alive to make your life a living hell for as long as possible.They’re as close to the devil as we’re gonna get here on earth, and I want to be the one that introduces them to you. Think of this new column as an in-depth version of the eXile’s Schopenhaur Awards.

I’m going to start with the herpes simplex virus. The media seems to be much more comfortable feeding the masses horrible developments about diseases in far away third-world countries that pose no real threat. Not herpes. With this baby, there is no such distance. It’s easily the most horrific modern-day STD out there. Worst of all it’s real and you’re probably infected and don’t even know it.

First, the basics. Herpes is a virus. You might remember from you high school Biology class that a virus isn’t technically a living organism. Unlike bacteria and other amoeba-like single-celled life forms, viruses lack the basic machinery to replicate themselves. They don’t need food. In fact they don’t need anything, but you. They are the original parasite and they’re sneaky. They don’t engage your body in honest cell-to-cell microbiological warfare. They play by their own rules.

See, a virus is nothing more than a hardy protein-based delivery vehicle for genetic code — basically a hacker program for cell DNA designed to mutate a host cell’s genetic code to do the virus’ reproductive bidding.

Most other viruses that kill off their host cells after it has birthed a new viral swarm — sort of like that zygote alien that bursts through that astronaut’s chest while he was eating dinner in Ridley Scott’s Alien. But herpes is smarter, it keeps its hosts alive. It thinks in terms of slow, maturing, long-term investments. Herpes has evolved to know that it doesn’t make sense to go on an all out rampage like the H5N1 or the Ebola virus and kill off the host organism as fast as possible. A virus’ reproductive potential terminates with the host. To stay in the game for as long as possible, a virus has to manage its infection and stay out of sight. That’s why the rampage viruses that we’re taught to fear are actually very easy to control. Sure, they produce a high fatality rate but quickly quarantining the infected population and letting them die off eliminates the threat.

Herpes masterfully avoids that fate. Its not life threatening and in most people, the symptoms are so mild and rare that few even notice them. Until recently, medical science was sure that herpes is only contagious during an outbreak of herpes blisters. But new studies have showb that the herpes virus is in active transmission even in the absence of symptoms.

Herpes is Greek for “to creep” and that’s exactly what it does. It’s a phantom virus that attacks your nerve cells and is spread by direct human contact with herpes-infected skin or bodily fluids. When that happens, millions of spiky viral particles latch on and begin to feel out a break in the skin. Herpes doesn’t need anything big, the cut doesn’t even have to be visible. Viruses are so small you need an electron microscope to see them.

Once a viral particle finds a gash, it latches on to the nearest nerve ending with its jagged claws and injects a small chunk of genetic code into the cell. After the mutation takes place, the infected nerve cell functions just as it always did. No medical test can detect this, but the neuron is now a sleeper terrorist cell ready to awaken and release a herpes army to the surface. It’s now your enemy — for life.

Read more: , , , Yasha Levine, eXile Classic

Got something to say to us? Then send us a letter.

Want us to stick around? Donate to The eXiled.

Twitter twerps can follow us at


Add your own

  • 1. Cal  |  May 7th, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Not just herpes. My friend just died of cancer after a two year horrific battle, marked by chemotherapy that melted his 6’3″ 240 lb frame down to 130 lb. He had oral cancer that was linked to HPV – that’s right, he died from eating pussy. Which pussy, who knows ? Probably a teen slut he slurped back in the 1980’s while he was a musician. There is a rapid increase in oral cancers in men linked to HPV. See, your grandfathers were right, you shouldn’t eat that shit….

  • 2. geo8rge  |  May 7th, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    herpes seroprevalence by country.

  • 3. Dan  |  December 2nd, 2009 at 5:52 am

    People pretend like herpes, hsv is TOTALLY normal to have. I feel like the world refuses to see connections between herpes, hsv and other illnesses because even our DOCTORS have cold IS a pandemic, epidemic. But whats worse is the severly uneducated of the world and even the educated continue to spread it out of irresponsibility and the fact that they are all infected. People die of herpes related illnesses just like the comment above..but i guess not enough people have died yet for anyone to take it seriously. I dumped my boyfriend because he refused to get tested for herpes, hsv. and i was quite sure he had it. I was called paranoid and over dramatic for caring about my own health. WHATS wrong with these people??

  • 4. Scared Sexless  |  November 21st, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Note cold sores are visible on or around the lips. Don’t mistake them for canker sores inside the mouth. Canker sores are not cold sores and are not caused by the herpes virus. I’ve had canker sores off and on in my life since a teen (dental work mostly caused them).

    However gum disease is a suspected cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Cold sores are a major factor in Alzheimer’s disease.

    I had risky oral sex about two and a half years ago but was lucky enough to not get any cold sore – yet. I got a sinus infection and a secondary infection after that oral sex and also was prescribed Valtrex…just in case. If I recall correctly, I had a blood test for herpes and it came out negative. I also try to keep my teeth and gums in good health. I know better these days. I’d rather be celibate than to risk my life and be old prematurely just for an hour’s worth of fun. Life is short. At least I’m in my early 50s and if I do have the dormant herpes and it breaks out, at least I probably will die of something else in my early 80s before I get the terrible lesions described in the article.

    If the article above is correct that 50% to 80% of young people have oral herpes, it’s a good idea to not do oral at all, but use a condom during normal sex.

    I’m not religious at all. And in my experience, I met ministers who were fraudsters. Just because you claim to be pious (like the Tartuffe!) does not mean you are. I trust atheist nerds far more than extrovert social butterflies.

  • 5. DrunktankDan  |  June 1st, 2011 at 12:02 am

    this article made my dick shrink by at least an inch or two

  • 6. ALLIE  |  July 4th, 2012 at 9:15 am

    You’re trying to instill fear in people. Either you’re the rare percentage that doesn’t have hsv or you’re completely unaware you have it. Either way, ocular herpes, and herpes encephalitis are less prevalent and your outbreaks decrease with time not increase. You build up antibodies over the years that keep the virus at bay. I agree it’s not the best thing in the world, but there are far much worst things in the world. I caught it genitally from oral sex with my fiancé while he had no sore present. I was aware of the risks. I’ve only ever had one out break. I do worry about ocular herpes but even if you do get that it’s a small percentage that have vision loss because of it. There’s a tone of treatment and cure research with some treatment and preventative vaccines and gels on the horizon. Get your facts straight. Or keep your insane anxieties to yourself, go live in a bubble. Hell if I was gonna let a harmless virus stop me from living my life, and enjoying my Time with the love of my life.

  • 7. Stack  |  November 8th, 2012 at 6:52 am

    U had a boyfriend and dumped him bc he refused to test
    unless you were “never” intimate of any kind and no protection You have it hun
    if you’ve ever had chickenpoxs the virus is in your body
    an array of young kids become ill by chickenpox
    you don’t have to have sex per say and can still contract that virus i kno got tests and it showed. .04 the med assistant had the nerves to say “its nothing you have nothing to worry about ”
    oh yea¿

  • 8. rog  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Why why is this not taken much more seriously by authorities than it is? Is there a deliberate cover up?

Leave a Comment

(Open to all. Comments can and will be censored at whim and without warning.)


Required, hidden

Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed