Herpes

What is herpes?
Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that can be caused by the HSV-I or II (herpes simplex type 1 or 2) viruses. HSV-I causes infections of the mouth and lips, sometimes called "fever blisters" or “cold sores.” HSV-II causes outbreaks of blisters and ulcerated blisters in the genital area. Genital herpes is common. As many as one in five teens and adults in the United States have the virus. In the past 25 years, the incidence of genital herpes has risen 30 percent.

How does one get herpes?
Genital herpes, HSV-II, is spread though simple skin-to-skin contact as well as through sexual contact with infected areas. HSV-I (cold sores) can be spread by mouth through contact with the lips and saliva of an infected person. HSV-I can be spread also from mouth to genitals through oral sex.

What can be the consequences of herpes?

  • Symptoms can range from being unnoticeable to very painful. You may experience pain or itching around your genitals, followed by blisters and ulcers.
  • About half of those infected with the virus have only one outbreak in their lifetimes but carry the HSV-II virus. Others experience multiple outbreaks, the frequency of which varies from one individual to another.
  • It’s possible for the infection to be active and contagious even when sores are not present, making it difficult to fully protect an uninfected partner.

What treatment, if any, is available for herpes?
HSV infections stay in the body indefinitely. There is no treatment that can cure herpes. That said, oral prescription antiviral medications can help heal the sores and reduce the frequency of outbreaks. If you are experiencing symptoms or suspect previous exposure SEE YOUR DOCTOR for diagnostic tests.

For more information about herpes visit:
CDC   Mayo Clinic

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