What Percentage Of The Population Has Herpes
What percentage of the population has herpes? More than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 about 67 percent of the global population are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 , according to a new report from the World Health Organization.
- HSV-2 infection is more common in women than in men (almost 1 out of 9.
- HSV-2 infection is also more common in blacks than in whites
- Genital herpes is common in the United States. More than one out of every six people aged 14 to 49 years have genital herpes.
Type Of Tests Used To Diagnose Herpes
There are four main types of diagnostic tests that can be used to diagnose herpes. Your doctor will determine which type of test to use based on whether an outbreak is present or not.
If youre experiencing what you believe to be a herpes outbreak, your doctor can use a viral culture test or virus antigen detection test. If youre not experiencing symptoms, you can have an antibody test.
- Viral culture test.This test is used to determine if a sore contains the herpes virus. This test can sometimes produce a false-negative, meaning that it may not detect the virus even though its present.
- Virus antigen detection test. This test is used to determine if antigens to the herpes virus are present in a sore or lesion.
- Antibody test. If youre not experiencing an outbreak yet but still believe you may have been exposed, you can opt to have an antibody test performed. This test will only show a positive result if the antibodies to the virus have been developed. Therefore, this test isnt necessarily recommended for recent exposure.
- Polymerase chain reaction test. With this test, a healthcare provider can screen a sample of your blood or tissue from a sore. They can use this to determine if HSV is present and which type you have.
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Is Genital Herpes Related To Shingles
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella zoster virus , which causes chickenpox earlier in life. The natural history of varicella zoster infection is similar to genital herpes infection in that VZV also becomes latent in the sensory nerve roots. Later in life the virus may exit, causing shingles.
Recurrences in shingles cause blister lesions in a single area of skin called a dermatome. Shingles is not a sexually transmitted infection and is independent from genital herpes.
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How Will My Healthcare Provider Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Your healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at any sores that are present. Providers can also take a sample from the sore and test it. If sores are not present, a blood test may be used to look for HSV antibodies.
Have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider about herpes testing and other STDs.
Please note: A herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection. It cannot tell you who gave you the infection or when you got the infection.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Herpes Simplex
You can reduce your risk of contracting HSV-1 by avoiding physical contact with someone who has a cold sore. People can still spread HSV-1 when cold sores arent present, but its less likely.
If someone has an active HSV-1 infection, avoid:
- Sharing utensils, cups, lip balms or other personal care products.
- Touching the skin near their mouth.
If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from the herpes virus and other STIs:
- Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
- Get tested for STIs and complete any prescribed treatment.
- Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
- Use condoms during intercourse and dental dams during oral sex.
Wash your hands often if you have an outbreak or are around someone with symptoms.
If your sexual partner has genital herpes, these actions can lower your risk of getting the virus:
- Dont have sex when your partner has active symptoms. Condoms may not cover all sores, so you may still get the virus.
- Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
- Wait to have sex until scabs fall off active lesions.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes Ii
Typically, the first signs of herpes II is a cluster of blister-like lesions in the genital area which spread and merge, break and crust over within four to 15 days. The fluid from these itching, painful sores is highly infectious. Other frequent symptoms are painful urination, urethral or vaginal discharge and swollen lymph nodes. The first exposure or primary episode consists of headache, fever, chills and muscular weakness. Recurrent episodes are less severe and are limited to the affected area.
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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Symptoms To Watch Out For
Before a full outbreak occurs, many people go through prodromal herpes symptoms, or the signs that an outbreak is about to start.
- One may feel abdominal pressure, general aches and pains in the muscles, burning, tingling or itching sensations and general tenderness around the infected area.
- More acute symptoms lead to noticeable pain in the groin or along the inner thighs, painful urination and unusual or heavy vaginal discharge.
These various symptoms will often be preceded by more common, flu-like symptoms of infection. Swollen lymph nodes, fever, chills, fatigue, nausea and a general feeling of achiness in the entire body could mean youve contracted something more serious than the flu.
At other times, the symptoms of an internal herpes outbreak may appear as little more than common, everyday problems that may not be thought of as serious at all. Some of these include headaches, back pains, persistent tiredness or an inability to think clearly.
What The Values Mean
What does that mean for you? How common herpes comes into the calculation. It affects how likely positive tests and negative tests are to be correct. In fact, it can make a bigger difference than herpes blood test accuracy!
Let us make the reasonable assumption that around 50% of the population are infected with HSV1. Thatâs the virus primarily associated with oral herpes and cold sores. Itâs also associated with a growing number of genital herpes infections.
Then assume that 25% of people are infected with HSV2. Thatâs the virus primarily associated with genital herpes. In that scenario, the positive predictive value and negative predictive value are as follows.
- HSV-1: At least 94% of positive tests give the correct result, and at least 99% of negative test will be correct.
- HSV-2: At least 98% of positive tests are correct, and at least 97% of negative tests are correct.
- HSV-1: 95% of positive tests are correct, and 97% of negative tests are correct.
- HSV-2: 99% of positive tests are correct, and 99% of negative tests are correct.
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The Health Risks Of Genital Herpes
Pain and discomfort are the main health effects of genital herpes, but the virus can also cause emotional and social problems for those infected. Although it cannot be cured, genital herpes can be managed with antiviral medication that may help control the recurrences. On rare occasions, genital herpes may cause serious complications such as blindness and inflammation of the brain.
Genital herpes can sometimes be passed from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy or birth. The infection can be life-threatening to the child or result in skin lesions or brain damage. Antiviral medication and a cesarean delivery can reduce the risk of infecting the child.
What Causes Cold Sores
Cold sores are sometimes called oral herpes because they are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 . This virus is very common and highly contagious. It spreads through saliva or close contact often through kissing or by sharing utensils, straws, towels or lip balm with someone who has a cold sore.
You may not know if you have been infected with HSV-1 because symptoms of exposure to HSV-1 are generally mild. Children sometimes develop a fever and small blisters inside and around their mouths when they are first exposed to HSV-1.
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Is Herpes Simplex Related To Herpes Zoster
Like HSV-1 and HSV-2, shingles can cause a painful, blistering rash. The shingles rash usually shows up on the back, side, abdomen , neck and face. It is often only on half of your body, following the pattern of your nerves. See your healthcare provider if you have a new rash and suspect you may have shingles.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Herpes simplex is a virus. Once you have herpes, its a lifelong condition. A herpes infection can lead to outbreaks , but youll also have times when you have no symptoms. The main sign of herpes is sores that appear on the infected skin. Some people choose not to treat herpes, especially if symptoms are mild. Others take antiviral medications to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2022.
Myth: If My Partner Suddenly Shows Signs Of Herpes They Must Have Cheated
If youve been monogamous with your partner for 5, 10, even 20 years, then out of the blue they have a visible herpes outbreak, the only logical explanation is cheating, right? Not necessarily. Similar to HIV or chicken pox, herpes has viral latency, or the ability to lie dormant in your body for years without showing any signs.
You could have been infected in your 20s, and the virus might show up again when youâre 40, says Dr. Dardik. The virus stays in your system even if it isnt active. In some cases, people wonât have any kind of outbreak unless itâs triggered by a significantly stressful life event, like another illness.
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What Happens If Herpes Is Not Treated
Herpes can be painful, but it generally does not cause serious health problems like other STDs can.
Without treatment, you might continue to have regular outbreaks, or they could only happen rarely. Some people naturally stop getting outbreaks after a while. Herpes typically does not get worse over time.
Sometimes There Are No Symptoms
Some people who contract herpes can go for years before having their first outbreak. Its even possible to have no symptoms at all but still pass on the virus. For some reason, male carriers of herpes seem to have no symptoms but still be infectious more often than females.
But why? Everyones body and immune systems is different. Plus, some strains of the virus are less aggressive than others. Studies also suggest that people who already have HSV-1 are less likely to show symptoms of genital HSV-2 as quickly as those who dont.
Interestingly, the CDC doesnt recommend herpes testing without the presence of symptoms. One reason is that a potential false positive result would have undue psychological costs for the patient. They also dont believe routine tests would have a large enough impact to curb the spread of the infection.
Without symptoms, how do you know if you have herpes thats dormant? Talk to your physician and decide if your symptoms or history warrant a check-up. If you know that you have been exposed to the virus by sexual or other physical contact, you may decide you have a valid reason to be concerned. Remember that herpes can spread even while using a condom. Whats more, oral herpes can be spread to the genitals from oral sex.
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Support And Advice For Genital Herpes
If you have just found out you have genital herpes, you may feel shocked and may have a lot of questions. It may help you to gather as much information as you can about herpes. This can help you to make fully informed decisions about your treatment, safe sex and preventing further recurrences. Talking to a counsellor about your concerns may also help.
Treatment The First Time You Have Genital Herpes
You may be prescribed:
- antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
- cream for the pain
If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.
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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.
How Can You Avoid Genital Herpes
Most women get genital herpes through sexual contactwith a person who has herpes sores. You can get thevirus without having sex. To avoid infection:
- Avoid skin-to-skin and sexual contact.
- Have safer sex:
- Reduce the number of sexual partners.
- Condoms, when used correctly, can reduce therisk of getting genital herpes. Each time you have sexuse a condom :
- Before vaginal sex
- Before oral sex
For more information, see Safer Sex.
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Role Of The Causative Agent
Another difference between herpes and fungal infections is the role of the causative agents of both diseases in the human organism.
The herpes virus is always harmful to health, but not all fungi that cause fungal infections are always harmful. The yeast Candida albicans, for example, is part of the population of microorganisms that help the female reproductive and digestive systems function properly.
For this reason, it is hypothesized that the herpes virus not only causes outbreaks but also affects our brains causing dementia.
How Can I Best Learn To Cope With Herpes Simplex
Some people feel distressed or embarrassed about their herpes simplex infection. Its important to understand that the herpes virus is common. For most people, herpes doesnt significantly interfere with daily life.
To cope with negative feelings, you may consider:
- Connecting with others through support groups or online forums.
- Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one.
- Speaking with a therapist.
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Treatment If The Blisters Come Back
Go to a GP or sexual health clinic if you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and need treatment for an outbreak.
Antiviral medicine may help shorten an outbreak by 1 or 2 days if you start taking it as soon as symptoms appear.
But outbreaks usually settle by themselves, so you may not need treatment.
Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes.
Over time, outbreaks tend to happen less often and be less severe. Some people never have outbreaks.
Some people who have more than 6 outbreaks in a year may benefit from taking antiviral medicine for 6 to 12 months.
If you still have outbreaks of genital herpes during this time, you may be referred to a specialist.
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Female Genital Herpes Or Yeast Infection Female
What are the differences between the signs and symptoms of genital herpes and yeast infection?
- An outbreak of genital herpes is usually accompanied by flu-like discomfort, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes in the groin, headache, and lower back pain yeast infection is not accompanied by these symptoms.
- The onset of an outbreak of female genital herpes is characterized by redness of an area mainly on the vulva that is covered with blisters and sores yeast infection does not usually cause blisters or ulcers.
- The discharge caused by genital herpes comes from the sores and is clear and thin in appearance the discharge caused by a yeast infection is white, thick, clumpy and odorless.
- The redness of the area of a vaginal herpes outbreak is localized to a specific zone yeast infection causes redness of the entire vaginal and vulvar area.
How do you know if you have herpes or yeast infection?
If you use the above differences, you will be able to know, although it is best to visit your doctor for a diagnosis.
Why are female genital herpes and yeast infections confused?
The confusion is because these diseases also have the following common symptoms:
- Both conditions can cause burning with urination.
- Vaginal herpes and yeast infection can both cause pain during sexual intercourse.
I have written a very extensive article on herpetic bulbovaginitis. If you would like to learn more about this condition, click on the link.
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