- Genital Herpes
is genital herpes?
is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the
herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV -1) and type 2 (HSV-2).
How is genital herpes spread?
and HSV-2 can be found and released from the sores that
the viruses cause, but they also are released between
episodes from skin that does not appear to be broken or
to have a sore. A person almost always gets HSV-2 infection
during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2
infection. HSV-1 causes infections of the mouth and lips,
so-called "fever blisters." A person can get
HSV-1 by coming into contact with the saliva of an infected
person. HSV-1 infection of the genitals almost always
is caused by oral-genital sexual contact with a person
who has the oral HSV-1 infection.
common is genital herpes?
herpes infection is common in the United States. Nationwide,
45 million people ages 12 and older are infected with
herpes. Herpes is more common in women (approximately
one out of four women) than in men (almost one out of
genital herpes serious?
usually produces only mild symptoms or signs or no symptoms
at all. However, herpes can cause recurrent painful genital
sores in many adults, and herpes can be severe in people
with suppressed immune systems. Regardless of severity
of symptoms, genital herpes frequently causes psychological
distress in people who know they are infected.
In addition, herpes can cause potentially fatal infections
in infants if the mother is shedding virus at the time
of delivery. It is important that women avoid contracting
herpes during pregnancy because a first episode during
pregnancy causes a greater risk of transmission to the
newborn. If a woman has active genital herpes at delivery,
a cesarean delivery is usually performed. Fortunately,
infection of an infant from women with herpes is rare.
Herpes can make people more susceptible to HIV
infection, and it can make HIV-infected individuals
happens when someone is infected with genital herpes?
people infected with herpes are not aware of their infection.
However, if signs and symptoms occur during the first
episode, they can be quite pronounced. The first episode
usually occurs within two weeks after the virus is transmitted,
and the sores typically heal within two to four weeks.
Other signs and symptoms during the primary episode may
include a second crop of sores, or flu-like symptoms,
including fever and swollen glands. However, most individuals
with herpes may never have sores, or they may have very
mild signs that they don't even notice or that they mistake
for insect bites or a rash.
Most people diagnosed with a first episode of genital
herpes can expect to have several symptomatic recurrences
a year (typically four or five). These recurrences usually
are most noticeable within the first year following the
Some people who have been infected with genital herpes
never experience symptoms at all.
is genital herpes diagnosed?
signs and symptoms associated with herpes can vary greatly.
Health care providers can diagnose genital herpes by visual
inspection if the outbreak is typical, and by taking a
sample from the sore(s). HSV infections can be difficult
to diagnose between outbreaks. Blood tests which detect
HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection may be helpful, although the
results are not always clear cut.
there a cure for herpes?
is no treatment that can cure herpes, but antiviral medications
can shorten and prevent outbreaks during the period of
time the person takes the medication.
How can people protect themselves against infection?
consistent and correct use of latex condoms can help protect
against infection. However, condoms do not provide complete
protection because the condom may not cover the herpes
sore(s), and viral shedding may nevertheless occur. If
either you or your partner have genital herpes, it is
best to abstain from sex when symptoms or signs are present,
and to use latex condoms between outbreaks.
CDC - DIVISION OF SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES PREVENTION
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