Are These The Only Herpes Viruses
There are actually several other subtypes of herpes viruses that are from the same family as HSV-1 and HSV-2. This family is known as Herpesviridae.
Alternatively, HSV-1 and HSV-2 are also known as human herpesvirus 1 and human herpesvirus 2 , respectively.
The other human herpesviruses include:
- Human herpesvirus 3 : Also known as the varicella zoster virus, this virus causes chickenpox lesions.
- Human herpesvirus 4 : Also known as the Epstein-Barr virus, this virus causes infectious mononucleosis.
- Human herpesvirus 5 : Also known as the cytomegalovirus, this virus causes symptoms such as fatigue and muscle aches.
- Human herpesvirus 6 : This virus can cause a serious illness in infants known as sixth disease, which is also called roseola infantum. The virus causes a high fever and distinctive rash.
- Human herpesvirus 7 : This virus is similar to HHV-6 and can cause some cases of roseola.
- Human herpesvirus 8 : This virus can contribute to a serious illness known as Kaposi sarcoma, which can lead to connective tissue cancer.
Many of these subtypes are contracted in childhood.
Symptomatic Versus Asymptomatic Herpes Transmission
This table summarizes the chance of transmission of herpes when a person is symptomatic and when he or she is asymptomatic .
The table presents information about the overall chance of getting a herpes infection over time, with multiple contacts. Please notice that infected people pass the infection regardless of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic.
The percentages mentioned bellow are general estimates and may vary from person to person based on immune system strength , skin condition , and race .
Treatment For Genital Herpes
Three drugs are approved to treat genital herpes:
These medications are antiviral drugs called nucleoside analogues. The drugs are used initially to treat a first attack of herpes, and then afterward to either treat recurrent outbreaks or reduce frequency of recurrences .
No drug can cure herpes simplex virus. The infection may recur after treatment has been stopped. Even during therapy, an infected person can still transmit the virus to another person. Drugs can, however, reduce the severity of symptoms, improve healing times, and prevent recurrences.
Antiviral drugs for genital herpes are generally given as pills that are taken by mouth. If people experience very severe disease or complications, they need to be hospitalized and receive an antiviral drug intravenously. Acyclovir is also available as an ointment, which can be used as an adjunct for treatment of initial genital herpes.
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How Long Does It Take For Symptoms Of Herpes To Appear
It generally takes anywhere from 4 to 7 days for herpes symptoms to appear. Both genital and oral herpes outbreaks have similar symptoms.
The primary symptom of a herpes outbreak is sores that resemble blisters, called herpes lesions, on the mouth or genitals.
In addition, people may also experience the following symptoms prior to the outbreak:
- pain and redness, especially around the area the outbreak will occur
- itching and tingling, primarily in the outbreak area
- flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, or swollen lymph nodes
Most of the symptoms that occur before an outbreak indicate that the virus is replicating. Symptoms are usually the worst during the first herpes outbreak.
According to the
Some people with the herpes virus are asymptomatic, which means that they dont experience any physical symptoms of the disease. This doesnt mean that they cant spread the disease, however.
Anyone who has the herpes virus, whether symptomatic or not, can spread the virus to others.
If you have the herpes virus and your body has produced antibodies, it can be detected on a blood test, even if you have no symptoms. The only time the virus might not be detected on a test is if youve been tested too early.
What Is Neonatal Herpes
Neonatal herpes can be a very serious infection. Babies generally contract the virus from their birthing parent during childbirth even if the parent doesnt have active lesions. They may also get HSV-1 if an adult with an active cold sore kisses them. Breastfeeding babies can also get HSV-1 from the breast if there are lesions present. But babies cant get herpes from breast milk, so its safe to pump and feed.
Herpes simplex can be more dangerous for young babies because they dont have a fully developed immune system. But most babies with neonatal herpes can recover fully with treatment.
The dangers of neonatal herpes are much higher if the infection spreads to the babys organs. If youre pregnant and have herpes, speak with your healthcare provider about how to lower the risk of passing the infection to your baby.
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Should You Get Tested
Its a good idea for the partners of people with genital herpes to have a blood test for herpes antibodies. This can help them to decide whether to use antiviral medication as protection, for example. Both partners may already have the same virus type. Then theres no reason to take medication to protect each other.
If one of the partners has HSV-1 or cold sores and the other one has HSV-2 or genital herpes, they could infect one another with the other virus. If one partner has herpes viruses in their body and the other doesnt, condoms are one way to prevent infection.
How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed
HSV nucleic acid amplification tests are the most sensitive and highly specific tests available for diagnosing herpes. However, in some settings viral culture is the only test available. The sensitivity of viral culture can be low, especially among people who have recurrent or healing lesions. Because viral shedding is intermittent, it is possible for someone to have a genital herpes infection even though it was not detected by NAAT or culture. 11
Type-specific virologic tests can be used for diagnosing genital herpes when a person has recurrent symptoms or lesion without a confirmatory NAAT, culture result, or has a partner with genital herpes. Both virologic tests and type-specific serologic tests should be available in clinical settings serving patients with, or at risk for, sexually transmitted infections. 11
Given performance limitations with commercially available type-specific serologic tests , a confirmatory test with a second method should be performed before test interpretation. If confirmatory tests are unavailable, patients should be counseled about the limitations of available testing before serologic testing. Healthcare providers should also be aware that false-positive results occur. In instances of suspected recent acquisition, serologic testing within 12 weeks after acquisition may be associated with false negative test results. 11
Providers are strongly encouraged to look at CDCs STI Treatment Guidelines for further diagnostic considerations.
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What Are Signs Of Genital Herpes In Women
Women who have the herpes virus may have nooutbreaks or signs of infection. Many do not know theyhave the virus. Once you are infected, the virus staysin your nerve cells for life. When the virus is not active,there is no sign of infection. When the virus becomesactive, a herpes outbreak occurs. Some womenmay not have any outbreaks or may have only oneoutbreak, while others may have multiple outbreaks.
Myth #: Herpes Is A Really Big Deal
This one is my favorite, having watched a number of friends be traumatized by diagnoses, only to later realize that ultimately, herpes is not that big of a deal.
For starters, Dr. Dweck tells me that one-third of the sexually-active population has been exposed to herpes. Hawkins offers more specific, but equally staggering, numbers as well she says that one-half of the population has oral herpes and one-sixth of the population aged 14 to 49 has genital herpes.
What’s more, my OB/GYN points out that the virus is more so inconvenient than it is nefarious, meaning that while outbreaks, especially your first, can be painful, they’re not doing you any health harm overall. And if you do have significant recurrent outbreaks, there’s a medication for that.
For all of these reasons, pros tend to agree that the outsized stigma around herpes is unwarranted and often, it’s the worst part of being infected. In reality, there’s no reason herpes should make someone feel like a social pariah or that it should remain such a closeted, shameful condition.
“The fact that so many people are living with this and having the same experiences but we dont talk about it, its really a shame because we could definitely support each other in ways were currently not doing,” says Hawkins. “Herpes is, of course, not something people would want, but its not as big of a deal as people make it out to be.”
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What Can A Person Or Community Do To Prevent The Spread Of Herpes Ii
Avoidance of sexual contact with symptomatic individuals is an immediate, but only partial answer because herpes virus may be shed while the infected individual remains asymptomatic. Cesarean section is often recommended when primary or recurrent herpes II lesions occur in late pregnancy.
Sexual relations should be approached responsibly.
- Limit the number of your sex partners.
- Use a male or female condom.
- If you think you are infected, avoid any sexual contact and visit the local STD clinic, a hospital or your doctor.
How Long Does It Take For Hsv2 To Show Up
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Worried you may have been exposed to herpes? Herpes is an extremely common virus, with the HSV-1 and HSV-2 types of herpes affecting more than 50% and around 11% of the total worlds population respectively, according to data from the World Health Organization.
Most cases of herpes as asymptomatic, meaning people that are infected with the virus may not develop the cold sores or genital sores that most people associate with a herpes infection.
If you think you might have been exposed to herpes through kissing or sexual contact, its totally normal to feel concerned. Herpes spreads easily, and as its often impossible to tell if someone has an infection without testing, many people fret about possible infection after sexual activity.
If you have HSV-1 or HSV-2, youll normally experience one of two possible outcomes after you become infected:
A first herpes outbreak . This usually happens one to two weeks after youre exposed to the virus and can involve headache, fever and the development of herpes blisters on your lips and/or genitals.
Nothing. Many people infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 have no symptoms at all, meaning you might not notice anything after being infected.
Below, well explain more about the first herpes outbreak you might experience after exposure to the virus, including the typical timescale for an initial outbreak occurring. Well also cover the most effective testing methods that you can use to verify whether or not you have herpes.
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Get Tested For Genital Herpes
Testing for genital herpes is easily done by a healthcare provider through swabs, blood testing, and/or visual diagnosis. â
Healthcare providers may even be able to visually diagnose the lesions as herpes, using lab tests to confirm the diagnosis.
The most common testing method in Canada is swabbing the surface of the lesion and sending it to a lab for testing. These swab tests can determine whether HSV-1 or HSV-2 caused the genital herpes infection. This kind of testing is usually not repeated once positive.
Blood tests can also determine if someone has an HSV infection and which type of the virus. However, blood testing is limited because it does not reveal if an infection is active, the infection location on the body, or how and when it was contracted.
Getting regular STI tests is an essential way to prevent infection or reinfection of sexual partners.â
Why Is Sexual Health Important
Anyone who is sexually active should be concerned about their sexual health. Left unchecked, STDs can wreak havoc on your reproductive system. This is true for both men and women.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control reported that about 24 thousand women become infertile each year due to STDs. Typically, contracting an STD isnt enough to cause infertility or other reproductive health issues. Its when a sexually transmitted disease isnt treated that the risk of reproductive damage becomes a problem. This points to just how important it is to get tested regularly, especially when you have a new sexual partner or have multiple sexual partners. Early detection is the best way to prevent an STD from impacting your future health.
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How Can I Prevent Transmitting Herpes
Although latex condoms can reduce the risk of transmitting most STIs by 98 percent, condoms dont prevent herpes transmission. This is because not all herpes sores occur in areas that are covered by a condom.
If youre experiencing an active outbreak, you can
- avoiding sexual activity until symptoms go away
- washing your hands thoroughly and applying medication with cotton swabs to reduce contact with sores
Taking a daily antiviral herpes medication can also help prevent transmission, shorten outbreaks, and manage symptoms.
How Do You Get Herpes
There are two different herpes viruses: Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 .
While rare, a mother can pass genital herpes to the baby during vaginal childbirth.
Herpes is most easily transmitted when sores are open and wet, because fluid from herpes blisters easily spreads the virus. But herpes can also shed and be passed to others when there are no sores and the skin looks totally normal. Most people get herpes from someone who does not have any sores. When used consistently and correctly, condoms help protect against herpes and many other STDs.
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How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
Herpes simplex virus doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women diagnosed with HSV-2 should start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy as prescribed, to prevent outbreaks during delivery. If you have an active infection at the time of childbirth, you can pass the herpes virus to your baby. Neonatal herpes puts a baby at risk for blindness, brain damage, skin infections and death. Your healthcare provider will perform a cesarean section to lower this risk.
Myth #: You Can’t Contract Herpes If You Always Practice Safe Sex
Condoms only cover part of the area in which herpes can manifest, says Dr. Dweck, which means that they don’t fully protect you from catching the virus.
For this reason, there is one way to practice mostly safe sex with respect to herpes. In other words, you can’t protect yourself from getting it, but someone with herpes can protect you by taking what Dr. Dweck calls “prophylactic antiviral medication,” e.g. Valtrex, every day, whether there’s an outbreak or not. “I have a lot of patients who are in a discordant couple, meaning that one person has herpes and the other doesn’t and they want to prevent transmission,” says Dr. Dweck. “The person who has it can take Valtrex to help prevent transmission.”
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Myth #: There Are Two Types: Genital And Oral Herpes
Buckle up, because this is where things get really confusing. There are two types of herpes, HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is typically oral, meaning it causes cold sores on the mouth. More than half the population has been exposed to this virus, and often from childhood. HSV-2 is typically genital, and most usually is transmitted through sexual contact.
With that said, Dr. Dweck says that herpes type 1 can be spread to the genitals via oral contact . So you might have type 1 that only presents orally, or you might have type 1 that only presents genitally. Herpes type 2 can also be spread in the reverse fashion, from the genitals of one individual to the mouth of the other .
How To Read Your Results
Your HSV test results will likely be reported as negative or positive :
- Negative. The herpes virus was not found. However, you may still have an HSV infection if your results were negative. It may mean the sample didnt have enough virus to be detected. If you still have symptoms of herpes, you may need to order another test.
- Positive. HSV was found in your sample. It may mean you have an active infection or contracted the virus in the past .
If your test results are positive for HSV, talk with a doctor about your next steps.
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How Effective Is Medication At Preventing Infection
If you have genital herpes, you will probably be somewhat less likely to infect your partner if you use antiviral medication for prevention. The medications used for this purpose include aciclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. They must be taken every day over a long period of time, though. One study showed that over a period of eight months,
- 4 out of 100 people became infected when the partner with the virus took a placebo, and
- 2 out of 100 people became infected when the partner with the virus took antiviral medication every day.
These couples were also advised to use condoms as well but many didn’t use them consistently. So its not clear whether taking antiviral medication can lower the risk of infection even further if you always use condoms anyway, or whether using condoms is just as effective on its own.
Whether or not you would like to use preventive medication is ultimately an individual decision. Many factors can play a role, such as how long you or your partner have had the infection, how frequent and severe the outbreaks are, whether you are male or female, the frequency of sexual contact and whether you use condoms.