Herpes Simplex Virus-(HSV)

What is Herpes?

Herpes is a very common viral Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) caused by two different types of viruses, Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Type 1 and/or Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2. HSV Type 1 is usually found around the mouth in lesions often called “cold sores”. HSV Type 2 is usually found in the genital area. There is NO Cure for HSV. Once a person has contracted HSV, the virus may lay dormant in the body for a long time before an outbreak occurs. Some may never have an outbreak of sores but are still able to spread the virus even without showing active symptoms. Because of the ability of the virus to lay dormant, it is usually not possible to track down who you may have caught the virus from. HSV is spread through direct skin to skin contact and can be spread through kissing and oral, anal or vaginal sex.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Blisters that rupture leaving painful sores that may last for weeks.
  • Bumps that may resemble pimples or ingrown hairs in the genital or rectal area
  • Painful sore on lip that may tingle just before outbreak
  • Painful rash
  • Pain with urination

Treatment:

There is no cure for HSV. Antiviral medications prescribed by a provider may lessen the severity and duration of the outbreak, and may be used for prevention in patients with a history of frequent symptomatic outbreaks and also to help decrease risk of transmission to an uninfected partner.  If you have symptoms that you are concerned about, schedule an appointment with a provider right away for an assessment.

Prevention:

  • Abstinence from ALL sexual activity (Oral, vaginal, anal) is the only 100% way to prevent an STD. STD’s are spread by contact of skin, blood or body fluids. This includes kissing.
  • Condom usage during all sexual encounters for the entire duration of genital contact will reduce the spread of a STD. Condoms are available for men and women as well as dental dams for oral sex. Please note that these barrier methods help reduce spread, but they do not cover all areas that may come into contact with an infected person
  • Refrain from using drugs and/or alcohol in sexual situations.
  • Refrain from any skin to skin contact
  • Although there is a blood test to help detect HSV when one is having symptoms, it is not recommended to obtain this blood test as part of routine screening for HSV infection in asymptomatic individuals.

References:

CDC- Herpes Virus