One would have thought that Grammy Award-winning singer Usher would have learnt from his previous mistakes and taken precautions to protect his sexual partners from herpes.
Now another woman is suing him for millions of dollars for allegedly infecting her with genital herpes, a sexual transmitted disease. The woman claims the You Got It Bad singer didn’t tell her he had herpes before having unprotected sex with her three months ago.
But what precautions should Usher have taken? Dr Sandile Masuku said the R&B sensation could have taken herpes treatment such as acyclovir and used condoms consistently to reduce the risk of passing the disease on.
However, “even if he had followed those precautionary measures, there are no guarantees that his partner would have been entirely protected,” Masuku said.
“Genital herpes is a viral infection which can be spread through having vaginal,
anal, or oral sex with someone who already has the disease. The transmission happens when the infected person has an open sore and the fluids which carry the virus are passed on to his or her partner during intercourse.
“But in some cases it can also be transmitted from an infected sex partner who does not have a visible sore, or who may not know he or she is infected, because the virus can be released through the skin. Viruses are very small and can spread through microscopic breaks in the skin.”
This means that even if Usher didn’t have open sores he could have transmitted herpes to his partners without their knowing. He knew as early as 2010 that he had genital herpes – a virus which remains in the body causing symptoms to flare up every now and then – which is probably why he is getting little sympathy from his fans.
People magazine reported the Confessions singer allegedly contracted herpes between 2009 and 2010, around the time he began divorce proceedings from his first wife, Tameka Foster. In court papers it was revealed that he paid a woman he had sex with $1.1m (R14.8m) in an out-of-court settlement in 2012, after she sued him for giving her herpes.
In California, it is illegal to “knowingly or recklessly” transmit a sexually transmitted disease. In South Africa it’s not, but Masuku says it’s only fair to protect those you love.
“Using condoms and taking herpes treatment is the best way you can reduce your chances of passing the virus on to your partner,” he said.
“But people should be mindful that protection offered by condoms is much more effective at preventing male to female infections than female to male infections.”