COMMON SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS: HERPES

There are two forms of genital herpes—herpes simplex virus-1 and herpes simplex virus-2. Although herpes-1 is most often associated with cold sores and fever blisters, both forms of herpes may be sexually transmitted. Rarely, a primary outbreak of herpes during pregnancy may cause miscarriage or stillbirth. If active herpes infections are present during childbirth, newborn infants may suffer serious health damage, including developmental disabilities and, rarely, death. Transmission to a newborn is more common during the first episode of a herpes infection and less common during a recurrent herpes outbreak. More than 30 million Americans have genital herpes, and 500,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. HSV (herpes simplex virus) remains in the body for life.

Common Symptoms

• a recurring rash with clusters of blistery, painful, or itchy sores appearing on the vagina, cervix, penis, mouth, anus, buttocks, or elsewhere on the body

• a primary outbreak that may result in pain and discomfort around the infected area of sores, itching, burning sensations during urination, swollen glands in the groin, fever, headache, and a general run-down feeling

Symptoms usually appear from two to 20 days after infection, but it may be years before an outbreak occurs.

Recurrences are sometimes related to emotional, physical, or health stresses. During recurrences, it is important to observe strict rules of day-to-day hygiene. Wash hands frequently and do not touch the sores. If the sores are touched inadvertently, wash hands immediately. Be particularly careful when handling contact lenses and touching the eyes.

How HSV Is Spread

• touching, sexual intimacy (including kissing)

• vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse

• rarely, during childbirth

HSV may be passed from one partner to another or from one part of the body to another, whenever contact is made with an active herpes virus.

HSV is most contagious from the time the sores are present until they are completely healed and the scabs have fallen off. Unfortunately, recent studies show that some people may be contagious when they have no symptoms. Mucous membranes of the mouth, anus, vagina, penis, and eyes are especially susceptible to infection.

Diagnosis: Can be confused with syphilis, chancroid, and other infections. Examination of the sores and laboratory culturing of fluid samples taken from the sores are important. Definitive diagnosis may not be possible if the sores are dried or scabbed. If you think you have herpes, it is important to have a diagnosis early in the outbreak.

Treatment: No cure. Symptoms can be relieved and the number of recurrences reduced with drugs such as valacyclovir and acyclovir.

Protection: Partners should refrain from sexual intimacy from the time they know the blisters are going to recur until after the scabs have completely fallen off the healed sores. Condoms offer some protection when the virus is not active.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 9:19 am and is filed under Men's Health-Erectile Dysfunction. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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