What is genital herpes?
Genital Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) most commonly caused by the herpes simplex viruse type 2 (HSV-2) and less often caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1).
How common is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is the most prevalent viral sexually transmitted disease. There are more cases of genital herpes than there are all the other viral STDs combined.
1 in 4 adults have genital herpes; 80-90% of people who have genital herpes don’t know they have it.
– Genital herpes is more common in women (approximately 1 out of 4 women) than in men (almost 1 out of 5).
– More African Americans (45.9%) have genital herpes than white Caucasian (17.6%)
Other herpes statistics
How do people get genital herpes?
Generally, a person can only get genital herpes during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection.
– You can get genital herpes from an infected partner who does not have a visible sore and may not know that he or she is infected.
– You can get genital herpes during vagina, oral or anal sex.
– You can get genital herpes even if you are using protection, aka a condom; because herpes can occur on parts of the body that aren’t covered by a condom, and because of the possibility of viral shedding.
– Herpes can be transmitted by either the giver or receiver of oral sex
– You can get herpes if the partners rub against each other (naked of course 🙂 )
Symptoms of genital herpes?
80-90% of people who have genital herpes don’t know they have it.
Most individuals have no or only minimal signs or symptoms from genital herpes infection.
The first outbreak 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, and flu-like symptoms, including fever and swollen glands. However, most individuals with HSV-2 infection never have sores, or they have very mild signs that they do not even notice or that they mistake for insect bites or another skin condition. It is possible that a person becomes aware of the “first episode” years after the infection is acquired.
Typically, another outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first, but it almost always is less severe and shorter than the first outbreak. People can expect to have 4 or 5 outbreaks (symptomatic recurrences) within a year. Over time these recurrences usually decrease in frequency, but the infection can stay in the body indefinitely.
Complications of genital herpes?
– Recurrent painful genital sores in many adults, and herpes infection 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 babies, due to their undeveloped immune systems, genital herpes can lead to potentially fatal infections.
– Herpes may play a role in the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Herpes increases the risk of acquisition of HIV by 2 to 4
How is genital herpes diagnosed?
Doctors can diagnose genital herpes by visual inspection if the outbreak is typical, and by taking a sample from the sore(s) and testing it in a laboratory.
HSV infections can be diagnosed between outbreaks by the use of a blood test.
Genital Herpes Prevention
– Abstain from sexual contact 🙂
– Be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.
– Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of genital herpes, however condoms are not 100% safe against genital herpes
– For heterosexual women living with one partner, the risk of contracting HSV-2 is 10%. This risk increases to 40% as the number of lifetime partners increases to 2-10.