Genital Herpes | Are you exposed unknowingly to HSV2?

Genital Herpes is an STD caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2, although, mostly caused by HSV-2. Genital herpes is a contagious viral infection affecting primarily the genitals of men and women. Genital herpes is characterized by recurrent clusters of vesicles and lesions at the genital areas or below the waist. The female genital areas are on or near the pubis, vulva, labia, clitoris, buttocks or rectum. The areas for male genital herpes include on or around the penis, the inner thigh, buttocks, or rectum. Proctitis or inflammation of the rectum, can be due to HSV.

Genital Herpes | I don’t have symptoms!

A person usually gets HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. Transmission may occur even if there is no visible outbreak if the infected person is shedding. 80 percent of people don’t even know they have it. In the United States alone, there are about 500,000 new cases of genital herpes infections annually. While generally not dangerous, it is a nuisance and can be emotionally traumatic, as there is no cure.

The number of HSV-1 genital herpes infections is rising. It is no longer the rule that HSV-1 is above the waist. If you receive unprotected oral sex from someone infected with cold sores, you can contract HSV-1 on your genitals. Do not give oral sex if you have an active cold sore or if you are feeling the prodromal symptoms.


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Facts About Genital Herpes:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Theory of Cause: …Dr. C.N. Look

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.

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