What is Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is an STD contracted from either the HSV-1 or HSV-2 virus. Genital herpes cases are predominantly caused by the HSV-2 virus, but HSV-1 cases are growing steadily due to oral sex. When symptoms appear, genital herpes presents itself as sores or lesions on the genitals, anus or upper thighs. To date, there are no statistics regarding how many Americans have genital herpes, only statistics on how many have HSV-2. This is because the blood tests that detect HSV-1 and HSV-2 are not able to tell you where on the body the virus is residing (orally or genitally).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 776,000 people in the U.S. are infected annually with HSV-2, but they are not certain how many of these cases are oral herpes or genital herpes. Genital herpes infections are more common among women than men because this vi. Genital herpes symptoms usually appear 2-12 days after exposure to the virus and emerge as vesicles (or blisters) in the genital area or rectum.
How is Genital Herpes Transmitted?
Genital herpes can be contracted from infected bodily fluids, including semen, vaginal fluid, saliva or herpes lesions, sores or blister fluid. Genital herpes is transmitted through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex, or from skin-to-skin contact with an infected partner. Chances of transmitting genital herpes (whether HSV-1 or HSV-2) increase if there are open, active sores or lesions present. It is possible to contract genital herpes even if your partner does not show symptoms.Genital herpes can only be prevented by abstaining from sexual activities. Latex or polyurethane condoms can help lower the risk of transmission for those who are sexually active, but because condoms do not cover all of the area that may be infected, genital HSV-1 and HSV-2 can still be contracted while using a condom.
- One of every six people ages 14 to 50 have genital herpes
- 21% of women have HSV-2
- 11% of men have HSV-2
- 80% of those with genital herpes have not been diagnosed
What are the symptoms of Genital Herpes?
Symptoms of genital herpes include vesicles, sores, lesions, blisters, painful ulcers, itching and/or burning in the genital area, anus or upper thighs. Approximately two-thirds of people with genital herpes do not experience symptoms or have symptoms that are so mild they are confused with other skin conditions. In instances where symptoms are not present, genital herpes can still be transmitted. Our doctors recommend getting tested for both herpes type 1 and herpes type 2 to learn your status.
Is there a cure for Genital Herpes?
No, genital herpes, whether caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2 is not a curable sexually transmitted disease. However, antiviral medication is available to help prevent and control symptoms of outbreaks.
Daily suppressive therapy (for example, daily use of antiviral medicine) for herpes can lower your chance of spreading the infection to your partner. Your doctor will either give you antiviral medicine to take right after getting outbreak symptoms or to take regularly to try to stop outbreaks from happening. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.