Herpes

What is Herpes?
Herpes simplex viruses include two distinct but closely related viruses, namely, HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both viruses can cause genital herpes. Roughly speaking, HSV-2 causes 90% and HSV-1 causes 10% of all genital herpes. Herpes simplex virus is a linear double-stranded DNA virus. HSV-1 and HSV-2 share approximately 50% homology of their genetic materials and they even express type-common surface antigens. It accounts for the high degree of cross-reactivity and the technical difficulty in differentiating the 2 viruses. On the other hand, HSV-1 & HSV-2 antibodies offer some degree of cross protection. Cell-mediated immune responses is more important than humoral responses in determining the severity of HSV infections. Hence, AIDS patients often have chronic and severe anogenital herpes. Genital herpes is usually transmitted by sexual intercourse. Direct inoculation of virus occurs through contact with infected secretions or mucosal surfaces. Orogenital contact with a partner with type 1 herpes labialis can also result in genital herpes. Asymptomatic shedding of HSV is the most common mode of transmission of genital herpes infection. It is estimated that more than half of the HSV-2 genital infections are asymptomatic.


Transmission is caused by close oral, anal, or genital contact, including intercourse, masturbation, kissing, or any direct skin-to-skin contact which allows for the transfer of bodily fluids.

Is the Herpes virus contagious?
A person is considered contagious when prodromal symptoms, active sores, and healing lesions are present.
Herpes is potentially contagious when no symptoms are present. That is, a person who has genital herpes is potentially always shedding active virus.
Approximately 1 in 6 members of the general infected population is thought to shed active virus occasionally without symptoms.
Some people do not get typical blister-like sores but harbor active virus in their saliva, vaginal, or penile secretions, and can shed the virus without knowing they have herpes.

Lesions can occur deep inside the vagina where they cannot be seen or felt, but can readily transmit the virus.
An uninfected individual has about a 75% chance of contracting herpes during intimate contact with someone actively shedding virus.
Oral herpes can be transmitted to the genitals, and vice versa. Symptoms are similar.

Auto-inoculation: An infected individual can spread the virus to other parts of his or her body by touching an area shedding virus and then touching, scratching, or rubbing another susceptible part of the body. Towels are especially conducive to this.

It is possible for a person to contract genital herpes if the partner with oral herpes performs oral sex. Oral herpes can be transmitted to the genitals, and vice versa. Symptoms are similar. Environmental surfaces like toilet seats may be a source of contagion, but there is no evidence that this poses a real threat to the general population. Experts differ as to how long the virus can survive on its own. The primary cause of infection remains intimate contact.

Herpes Treatment and Prevention
There 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. In addition, daily suppressive therapy for symptomatic herpes can reduce transmission to partners.
The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.

Genital ulcer diseases can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom, as well as in areas that are not covered. Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of genital herpes only when the infected area or site of potential exposure is protected. Since a condom may not cover all infected areas, even correct and consistent use of latex condoms cannot guarantee protection from genital herpes.
Persons with herpes should abstain from sexual activity with uninfected partners when lesions or other symptoms of herpes are present. It is important to know that even if a person does not have any symptoms he or she can still infect sex partners. Sex partners of infected persons should be advised that they may become infected. Sex partners can seek testing to determine if they are infected with HSV. A positive HSV-2 blood test most likely indicates a genital herpes infection.

Genital Herpes

What is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV. There are two types of HSV, and both can cause genital herpes. HSV type 1 most commonly infects the lips, causing sores known as fever blisters or cold sores, but it also can infect the genital area and produce sores. HSV type 2 is the usual cause of genital herpes, but it also can infect the mouth. A person who has genital herpes infection can easily pass or transmit the virus to an uninfected person during sex.

Both HSV 1 and 2 can produce sores (also called lesions) in and around the vaginal area, on the penis, around the anal opening, and on the buttocks or thighs. Occasionally, sores also appear on other parts of the body where the virus has entered through broken skin.
HSV remains in certain nerve cells of the body for life, and can produce symptoms off and on in some infected people.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 45 million people in the United States ages 12 and older, or 1 out of 5 of the total adolescent and adult population, are infected with HSV-2.
Nationwide, since the late 1970s, the number of people with genital herpes infection has increased 30 percent. The largest increase is occurring in young teens. HSV-2 infection is more common in three of the youngest age groups which include people aged 12 to 39 years.
How is genital herpes treated?

Although there is no cure for genital herpes, your health care worker might prescribe one of three medicines to treat it as well as to help prevent future episodes.
•    Acyclovir (Zovirax)
•    Famciclovir (Famvir)
•    Valacyclovir (Valtrex)

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved Valtrex for use in preventing transmission of genital herpes.
During an active herpes episode, whether the first episode or a repeat one, you should follow a few simple steps to speed healing and avoid spreading the infection to other places on the body or to other people.
Keep the infected area clean and dry to prevent other infections from developing.
Try to avoid touching the sores.
Wash your hands after contact with the sores.
Avoid sexual contact from the time you first feel any symptoms until the sores are completely healed, that is, the scab has fallen off and new skin has formed where the sore was.

Herpes Simplex

What is Herpes Simplex?
Herpes simplex viruses include two distinct but closely related viruses, namely, herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex 2 HSV-2. Both viruses can cause genital herpes. Roughly speaking, HSV-2 causes 90% and HSV-1 causes 10% of all genital herpes. Herpes simplex virus is a linear double-stranded DNA virus. HSV-1 and HSV-2 share approximately 50% homology of their genetic materials and they even express type-common surface antigens.   It accounts for the high degree of cross-reactivity and the technical difficulty in differentiating the 2 viruses. On the other hand, HSV-1 & HSV-2 antibodies offer some degree of cross protection. Cell-mediated immune responses is more important than humoral responses in determining the severity of HSV infections. Hence, AIDS patients often have chronic and severe anogenital herpes. Genital herpes is usually transmitted by sexual intercourse. Direct inoculation of virus occurs through contact with infected secretions or mucosal surfaces. Orogenital contact with a partner with type 1 herpes labialis can also result in genital herpes. Asymptomatic shedding of HSV is the most common mode of transmission of genital herpes infection. It is estimated that more than half of the HSV-2 genital infections are asymptomatic.

Transmission is caused by close oral, anal, or genital contact, including intercourse, masturbation, kissing, or any direct skin-to-skin contact which allows for the transfer of bodily fluids.

Herpes Symptoms

What are the Herpes Symptoms?
Unfortunately, most people who have genital herpes don't know it because they never have any symptoms, or they do not recognize any symptoms they might have. When there are symptoms, they can be different in each person. Most often, when a person becomes infected with herpes for the first time, the symptoms will appear within 2 to 10 days. These first episodes of symptoms usually last 2 to 3 weeks.

Early symptoms of a genital herpes outbreak include
•    Itching or burning feeling in the genital or anal area
•    Pain in the legs, buttocks, or genital area
•    Discharge of fluid from the vagina
•    Feeling of pressure in the abdomen

Within a few days, sores appear near where the virus has entered the body, such as on the mouth, penis, or vagina. They also can occur inside the vagina and on the cervix in women, or in the urinary passage of women and men. Small red bumps appear first, develop into blisters, and then become painful open sores. Over several days, the sores become crusty and then heal without leaving a scar.
Other symptoms that may go with the first episode of genital herpes are fever, headache, muscle aches, painful or difficult urination, vaginal discharge, and swollen glands in the groin area.

A person is considered contagious when prodromal symptoms, active sores, and healing lesions are present.
Herpes is potentially contagious when no symptoms are present. That is, a person who has genital herpes is potentially always shedding active virus.
Approximately 1 in 6 members of the general infected population is thought to shed active virus occasionally without symptoms.
Some people do not get typical blister-like sores but harbor active virus in their saliva, vaginal, or penile secretions, and can shed the virus without knowing they have herpes.

Lesions can occur deep inside the vagina where they cannot be seen or felt, but can readily transmit the virus.
An uninfected individual has about a 75% chance of contracting herpes during intimate contact with someone actively shedding virus.
Oral herpes can be transmitted to the genitals, and vice versa. Symptoms are similar.
Auto-inoculation: An infected individual can spread the virus to other parts of his or her body by touching an area shedding virus and then touching, scratching, or rubbing another susceptible part of the body. Towels are especially conducive to this.
It is possible for a person to contract genital herpes if the partner with oral herpes performs oral sex. Oral herpes can be transmitted to the genitals, and vice versa. Symptoms are similar.

Environmental surfaces like toilet seats may be a source of contagion, but there is no evidence that this poses a real threat to the general population. Experts differ as to how long the virus can survive on its own. The primary cause of infection remains intimate contact.