Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2).
There are eight known types of herpes viruses, but probably the best known are Human Herpes Virus 1, 2 and 3, causing cold sores; lesions around the genital area; and chickenpox and shingles respectively.
IT IS SERIOUS
Genital herpes is serious. Besides being humiliating and embarrassing, sores can infect other parts of the body if an infected person touches a genital sore and then another body part, e.g. the eyes. Infected women have a high risk of passing the disease to their babies, who can die from herpes. The biggest concern, however, is that herpes eventually weakens the immune system and puts victims at higher risk of diseases like meningitis, hepatitis, and other STIs, including Aids.
HOW IT IS SPREAD
Genital herpes is spread by physical contact with an infected person. It is most commonly spread by sexual intercourse and oral sex, but it can be spread by any kind of skin-to-skin contact.
According to emedicinehealth, people may spread genital herpes even when they don’t know they are infected. Herpes can also be transmitted even when the disease seems to be inactive and there are no visible lesions.
The symptoms of genital herpes can vary greatly and it is best to have lesions of any kind tested. After being infected it can take days or even years before symptoms become apparent. The first outbreak can also be so mild as to pass virtually unnoticed.
Symptoms caused by primary infection and recurrent outbreaks:
The symptoms of genital herpes usually take about a month to clear up.
Herpes is for life. Once you have herpes, you can’t ever get rid of it. (A blood test by a health professional will reveal if you are infected. Fluids taken from lesions can also be tested for the herpes virus.)
Even though symptoms disappear, the virus remains dormant in a nearby nerve. The virus may be reactivated from time to time, usually caused by some kind of stress, and travels back down the nerve to your skin, causing a new outbreak.
Herpes can be treated. Although herpes won’t disappear, there are medications that make outbreaks less severe. WebMD states that antiviral drugs can help sufferers of genital herpes stay symptom-free for longer and reduce the severity and duration of symptoms when they do occur.
The three drugs mainly used to treat genital herpes are acyclovir (Zovirax), famiclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex).
HOW TO AVOID BEING INFECTED
Contracting genital herpes can be avoided by:
(Courtesy of New Zealand Herpes Foundation and Health24.com)
EDITORIAL POLICY: Permission to use quotation from this article is granted subject to full credit of source being given by referencing the direct link of the article on edaily.co.ke