What Are The Signs Of Herpes In Children
The herpes virus can be spread to babies and children if they are kissed by someone that is infected and has active cold sores. Although rare, it is also possible to spread herpes to a child or infant by touch if a person touches their cold sore and then touches the baby or child.
Precautions can be taken to protect infants and other children from getting the virus. Avoid kissing children if you have a cold sore and ask other people not to as well. Wash your hands frequently if you have a cold sore and you are around children.
Todays Reality: Herpes In The Us
Terri Wilder: Thanks for being here with me today, Dr. Jerome. My first question is: Why is herpes simplex virus a public health problem?
Keith Jerome: Well, herpes is unique. Its part of a relatively small family of viruses that cause infection for life.Once the virus gets into a person, it finds a particular place it likes to essentially fall asleepwe call it latency. But for herpes simplex, it goes to neurons within the body called nerve cells. The virus could basically go there to sleep, where the body doesnt notice it and the normal medications that we have today dont notice it. But every once in a while, the virus can wake up and then travel back out from those nerve cells. Thats what causes the ulcerations or lesions that people get.
And so, were very interested in answering: Is there something that we can provide to help people not just control the infection, but actually get rid of it?
Wilder: Can you speak to the link between herpes and HIV?
Jerome: Absolutely. Having herpes simplex virus raises a persons risk of acquiring HIV about twofold. Obviously, there are other risk factors for HIV, but on a population-wide basis, particularly in areas where the incidence of HIV infection is very high, along with a high level of herpes simplex virusfor example, in parts of sub-Saharan Africawe think that almost half of all the HIV cases that exist can actually be traced back to a pre-existing herpes simplex virus infection.
What Are The Signs Of Herpes In Women
Like men, women who have HSV-1 or HSV-2 may have no symptoms or signs of the infection. Some women may only have an initial outbreak and no other recurring symptoms. Others may have chronic recurring outbreaks of the herpes virus, and some women may not have an outbreak for months or even years after they have first been infected.
In the first herpes outbreak, symptoms usually start within 2 weeks of contracting the virus. The initial symptoms may include:
-Around the buttocks or thighs
-Inside the cervix or urinary tract
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How Do I Test For Herpes
If you think you have symptoms of genital herpes or have been at risk of infection, you should speak to a healthcare professional.
There are different tests available. If you have symptoms, the most common test is to take a swab from a blister. The fluid can be tested for the herpes simplex virus. A herpes blood test exists but is not routinely available.
If you have genital herpes you should be tested for other STIs. Itâs important that you tell your recent sexual partner/s so they can also get tested and treated. Many people who have herpes do not notice anything wrong, and by telling them you can help to stop the virus being passed on.
How Can I Protect My Sex Partners
You can take steps to protect others from herpes. Keep in mind that you can spread it even when you dont have symptoms.
Avoid sex during outbreaks: Youre more likely to give your partner herpes while you have an outbreak. Avoid sexual contact from the time you notice the first signs, such as tingling or pain, until the scabs fall off and your skin is back to normal.
Try not to touch your sores: If you do, wash your hands right away. A good cleaning may stop the spread to another part of your body or to your partner.
Use condoms: They wont totally protect your partner, but they can lower the chances of spreading the virus.
Talk to your doctor: They might prescribe a drug to make it less likely youll give herpes to someone else. As with condoms, the medicine wont 100% protect your partner.
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When Treatments For Genital Herpes Are Given
- Initial treatment. If you have symptoms such as sores when you’re first diagnosed with genital herpes, your doctor will usually give you a brief course of antiviral therapy to relieve them or prevent them from getting worse. Your doctor may keep you on the drugs longer if the sores don’t heal in that time.
After the first treatment, work with your doctor to come up with the best way to take antiviral therapies. There are two options:
- Intermittent treatment. Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug for you to keep on hand in case you have another flare-up this is called intermittent therapy. You can take the pills for two to five days as soon as you notice sores or when you feel an outbreak coming on. Sores will heal and disappear on their own, but taking the drugs can make the symptoms less severe and make them go away faster.
- Suppressive treatment. If you have outbreaks often, you may want to consider taking an antiviral drug every day. Doctors call this suppressive therapy. For someone who has more than six outbreaks a year, suppressive therapy can reduce the number of outbreaks by 70% to 80%. Many people who take the antiviral drugs daily have no outbreaks at all.
There is no set number of outbreaks per year that doctors use to decide when someone should start suppressive therapy. Rather, more important factors are how often the outbreaks happen and if they are severe enough to interfere with your life.
Signs And Symptoms Of Herpes
Both kinds of herpes cause outbreaks of painful sores on the skin. Symptoms of herpes include:
Oral herpes sores
Genital herpes sores
The sores that appear in the genital area can come from HSV-1 or HSV-2. Like the sores on the mouth, they start as painful blisters, then dry up and heal over time.
Although they usually show up around the mouth or genitals, herpes sores can appear anywhere on the body.
Not all people who have herpes have frequent outbreaks. Some people might have a single outbreak then never show symptoms again. The virus may stay dormant in their body.
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Prevention Of Genital Herpes
The best protection against STIs is to always use barrier protection such as condoms, female condoms and dams . Because herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact, condoms will reduce the risk of transmission, but it will not protect sexual partners completely as condoms do not cover the entire genitals.
Using lubricant with a condom during sex will also reduce the risk of trauma to the genital skin. This has been shown to reduce HSV transmission, especially in the first six months of a sexual relationship. Silicone-based lubricants are recommended.
Remember that herpes transmission can occur when symptoms are present , but may also occur even if there are no genital symptoms through asymptomatic viral shedding.
For people who have frequent episodes of genital herpes, antiviral medication, taken daily, helps to reduce transmission of herpes to a sexual partner.
What Is The Herpes Virus
Herpes is a virus that causes skin sores. The medical term for it is the Herpes Simplex Virus . It most commonly produces sores on the mouth or genitals.
Herpes is very common and doesnt usually cause severe health problems. However, it is very contagious and there is no cure.
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How Often Do Herpes Outbreaks Occur
Outbreak frequency varies greatly from person to person. The average number of outbreaks for a person with the HSV-2 virus is four to five per year, while the average for HSV-1 is less than one outbreak per year. Usually, outbreaks are more common during the first year and become less frequent over time.
Oral Herpes And Cold Sores
Cold sores are a symptom of oral herpes .
Cold sores are blister-like sores that occur near the mouth or lips. They can also occur on other areas of the face. They typically persist for 2 weeks or more. Because theres no cure for herpes, cold sores can come back.
Genital herpes is quite common.
Although genital herpes is typically caused by HSV-2, the infection can also be caused by HSV-1.
According to the WHOs latest available statistics, it was estimated that 491.5 million people had an HSV-2 infection in 2016. This is over one-tenth of the worlds population ages 15 to 49 years.
The WHO also estimates that 3.7 billion people had an HSV-1 infection in the same year, which accounts for around two-thirds of the worlds population under age 50 years.
CDC does not recommend getting tested for herpes.
However, if there are symptoms of genital herpes, its important to see a doctor. They can make a diagnosis and discuss management strategies for the infection.
Additionally, if theres a potential of having been exposed to HSV, or if theres a desire to get a full STI exam and testing, its recommended to schedule an appointment with a doctor.
If an in-person appointment is not possible, an at-home test kit is another option to consider. However, its important to note that an in-person test done by a doctor may be more accurate.
Treatment can reduce outbreaks, but it cannot cure herpes simplex viruses.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes
Many people with genital herpes wonât get any symptoms, or may get symptoms for the first time months or even years after they were infected.
For most people, the first blisters go away within a month. Although the outbreaks clear-up by themselves, the virus stays in the body. This means that people usually get blisters again â which is called having a ârecurrent outbreakâ. Outbreaks usually become shorter and less severe over time.
Other symptoms can include:
tingling or burning around the genitals
feeling unwell, with aches, pains and flu-like symptoms
unusual vaginal discharge in women.
Why Genital Herpes Comes Back
Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body.
It will not spread in your body to cause blisters elsewhere. It stays in a nearby nerve and causes blisters in the same area.
If you can, avoid things that trigger your symptoms.
Triggers can include:
- surgery on your genital area
- a weakened immune system for example, from having chemotherapy for cancer
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Is There A Link Between Herpes And Hiv
Genital herpes is one of the most common co-infections for people with HIV. It can be a more serious condition if youâre HIV positive – outbreaks may last longer and blisters can be more severe. If youâre having recurrent outbreaks of genital herpes, you should have an HIV test, as this may be a sign of a weakened immune system caused by HIV.
Having an STI such as genital herpes can increase your risk of getting and passing on HIV. The blisters and sores provide an easy way for HIV to get into your body and cause an infection.
People with HIV who arenât on treatment or who have a lower CD4 count are more likely to get other infections, like herpes.
If youâre taking antiretroviral treatment for HIV, itâs important to discuss this with your doctor. They can advise how treatment for herpes may interact with your HIV drugs.
Treatment For Genital Herpes
There is no medication to cure your body of the herpes virus. Treatment is aimed at easing symptoms, reducing the frequency of recurrences and reducing transmission.
Symptoms can be improved by:
- ice packs to the affected area
- pain-relieving medication such as paracetamol
- antiviral medication such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. These can reduce the severity of an episode if taken early enough . Topical antivirals usually used for cold sores on the lips or face are not suitable for use on the genitals.
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How Is Genital Herpes Treated
Herpes has no cure. But antiviral medicines can prevent or shorten outbreaks during the time you take the medicine. Also, daily suppressive therapy 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.
During outbreaks, you can take the following steps to speed healing and prevent spreading herpes to other parts of your body or to other people:
- Keep sores clean and dry.
- Try not to touch the sores.
- Wash your hands after any contact with the sores.
- Avoid all sexual contact from the time you first notice symptoms until the sores have healed.
Can I Be Treated To Prevent Genital Herpes Transmission To My Partner
Yes. A large study showed that if one partner has herpes and the other partner is uninfected, treating the infected partner with suppressive therapy can prevent transmission of symptomatic herpes in over 90% of cases. This is an option for couples who are interested in having unprotected sex or who are planning to become pregnant.
If you are entering into a new relationship and are aware that you have herpes simplex infection, you owe it to your partner to notify them before having sex.
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Is There Research On Curing Herpes
Yes, there is ongoing research that aims to find a cure for herpes a cure may be available in the future, but this remains uncertain. Current research includes:
- Genetic engineering
Genetic engineering research into a genetic technique called gene-editing has shown some promise. It aims to deactivate the virus by affecting its DNA, which is essential for its survival. Results are currently inconclusive.
There is also ongoing research into some vaccines these teach the body to reject the virus. Examples are TheraVaxHSV-2 and GEN-003, which aim to treat genital herpes. Both have shown promising initial results for both strains of the virus, with GEN-003 being further along in its stage of clinical trial testing. Results are currently inconclusive, but the vaccines are still undergoing further clinical trials.
How To Prevent The Spread Of Herpes
Although herpes is a lifelong virus that cant be cured, it goes through periods of dormancy between outbreaks. This means that while the virus is still present, its not actively replicating.
During this time, you may not experience any signs or symptoms of having the disease even if youve had a previous outbreak before.
However, you can still spread the herpes virus to your sexual partners at any time, even if no sores are present. In addition, although rare, its possible to spread oral herpes to the genital region and vice versa.
For this reason, its extremely important to be mindful of the following preventive measures:
- Tell your partners that you have genital or oral herpes. This allows them to make informed decisions about their own sexual health, and its the responsible thing to do.
- If youre experiencing the signs and symptoms of an upcoming outbreak, avoid all sexual contact. Youre most likely to spread the virus to others during an outbreak.
- Its possible to spread the herpes virus even without an outbreak. If youre worried about spreading the disease to a partner, research shows that antivirals are effective at reducing this possibility.
Having oral or genital herpes doesnt mean that you can no longer have sex. However, its your responsibility to prevent the spread of herpes to your sexual partner.
If you have herpes, you can still take care of your sexual health through open communication and safer sex.
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What Happens If I Dont Receive Treatment
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another body part like your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, quickly wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading the infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your unborn fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? for information about this.
What Is The Link Between Genital Herpes And Hiv
How can genital herpes be prevented?
Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of genital herpes, because herpes symptoms can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom. However, outbreaks can occur in areas that are not covered by a condom.
The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.
Persons with herpes should abstain from sexual activity with partners when sores or other symptoms of herpes are present. It is important to know that even if a person does not have any symptoms, he or she can still infect sex partners. Sex partners of infected persons should be advised that they may become infected and they should use condoms to reduce the risk. Sex partners can seek testing to determine if they are infected with HSV.
Counseling and help for those who have genital herpes is often available from local health departments. The American Social Health Association maintains a HerpesResourceCenter. For information on its programs, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the center at
Where can I get more information?
Illinois Department of Public Health
HIV/STD Hotline 800-243-2437
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov/std/ CDC-INFO Hotline
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