Risk For Genital Herpes
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about 1 in 6 Americans ages 14 to 49 years have genital herpes. While HSV-2 remains the main cause of genital herpes, HSV-1 has significantly increased as a cause, most likely because of oral-genital sex. Except for people in monogamous relationships with uninfected partners, everyone who is sexually active is at risk for genital herpes.
Risk factors for genital herpes include:
- History of an STD
- First sexual intercourse at an early age
- High number of sexual partners
- Low socioeconomic status
Women are more susceptible to HSV-2 infection because herpes is more easily transmitted from men to women than from women to men. About 1 in 5 women, compared to 1 in 9 men, have genital herpes. African-American women are at particularly high risk.
People with compromised immune systems, such as those who have HIV, are at very high risk for genital herpes. These people are also at risk for more severe complications from herpes. Drugs that suppress the immune system, and organ transplantation, can also weaken the immune system and increase the risk for contracting genital herpes.
What Are The Long
Genital herpes is a chronic long term condition. Unfortunately, there is no cure, but it is possible to manage the symptoms using antiviral medicines. If the herpes blisters get infected, they can result in a skin infection elsewhere in your body. If you are suffering recurrent outbreaks of genital herpes, it is wise to get tested for HIV. Severe and frequent outbreaks of genital herpes can be a sign of a weak immune system.
If you have HIV or AIDS, or if you are undergoing chemotherapy, or if you have a weakened immune system, you should be referred to a specialist for treatment. Herpes can last longer and be more severe in people with weak immune systems.
Herpes can cause problems in pregnancy. If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, make sure you get referred to a specialist. The infection could pass to your unborn baby and it can be serious.
I Had Lesions When I Was Evaluated But My Culture Was Negative Does This Mean That I Dont Have Herpes
Not necessarily. Although lesions can be caused by something other than herpes, false negative herpes tests can occur if the samples are not taken appropriately, if there is a long transport time between the clinic and the laboratory, or if cultures were taken late in the course of the lesions. Lesions that occur early in the course of a herpes outbreak are much more likely to have positive cultures than cultures taken after the lesions crust over.
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Could I Pass Herpes Simplex To A Partner If I Have No Symptoms
This sometimes happens but is not likely. When the virus is inactive inside the nerve cells it cannot be caught by a partner. If there is virus on the skin surface where you get your symptoms, it may be passed on.
Before the outbreak begins, there may be a tingly or itchy feeling at the place where this will happen. This means that diagnosed people are less likely to pass it one when there is nothing to see on the skin, because they are usually more aware of these prodromes , whereas undiagnosed people often ignore highly infectious and obvious symptoms, because they do not know what they are. This is not asymptomatic as you can feel something and you should not have sex at this time.
Asymptomatic shedding means without sensation and a scientific test can virus on the skin when the person feels nothing. This applies to type 2. Type 1 doesnt like the genital region and is less likely to recur and to shed asymptomatically. This happens only in some people, mostly in the first six months. After a year or two, if a person is not having many outbreaks, they will rarely have virus on the skin without symptoms.
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Genital Herpes Treatment In Pregnancy
You may be offered antiviral treatment:
- to treat outbreaks in pregnancy
- from 36 weeks to reduce the chance of an outbreak during birth
- from diagnosis until the birth if you first get herpes after 28 weeks of pregnancy
Many women with genital herpes have a vaginal delivery. You may be offered a caesarean, depending on your circumstances.
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Don’t Kiss With A Cold Sore
The best way to avoid transmitting oral herpes is to avoid kissing during an active cold sore outbreak.
But what if you didn’t realize you were getting a cold sore? Or maybe you just got caught up in the passion of the moment.
Or, maybe you’ve never had a cold sore, and the other party lets you know they had an outbreak around the time you kissed.
If you accidentally kiss someone when one of you has a cold sore, the best first step is for the uninfected person to thoroughly wash their lips with soap and water. While this may not prevent an infection, it certainly won’t hurt.
Next, that person should monitor themselves for unusual tingling or burning around their lips. If they are immunocompromised, they should contact their physician to help determine what to do next.
How To Avoid Herpes Infection
Condoms cut the risk of getting or passing on herpes if they cover the affected area.
Other types of contraception, such as the contraceptive pill, offer no protection against sexually transmitted infections .
Wash your hands after touching blisters, especially before handling contact lenses because herpes can cause an eye infection.
Avoid things that trigger herpes outbreaks such as a lack of sleep, sunbathing or stress.
Having herpes could make it easier for someone to get or pass on HIV. But if HIV drugs have made your viral load undetectable then you cannot pass on HIV.
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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:
P.O. Box 13827 Research Triangle Park, NC27709
ASHA also has a herpes hotline, 919-361- 8488, that operates Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
IDPH HIV/STD Hotline 800-243-2437
What Happens At A Sexual Health Clinic
The doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic will:
- ask about your symptoms and your sexual partners
- use a small cotton bud to take some fluid from 1 of your blisters or sores for testing
The test cannot:
- be done if you do not have visible blisters or sores
- tell you how long you have had herpes or who you got it from
Symptoms might not appear for weeks or even years after youre infected with the herpes virus.
If you have genital herpes, your previous sexual partners should get tested.
The doctor or nurse at the clinic can discuss this with you and help you tell your partners without letting them know its you who has the virus.
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Clinical Trials For Herpes Vaccines Ongoing
While there have been some promising trials of herpes vaccines, to date, no human trials have shown high enough efficacy to bring a herpes vaccine to market.
People who have recurrent herpes may use the same medications that are recommended for symptomatic outbreaks when characteristic tingling and pain develops. In these situations, the medication course is started immediately to stave off or reduce the severity of an episode.
Suppressive therapy, involving the daily use of antiviral to prevent an outbreak reoccurrence, can reduce ones symptoms and the amount of viral shedding. This can be quite helpful, particularly in combination with reliable condom use.
If you are an adult, the symptoms of herpes are usually pretty manageable and only rarely cause complications. However, herpes can be very dangerous if it is transmitted to a growing baby during pregnancy.
If you have genital herpes and are pregnant, or if you are sexually involved with someone who is pregnant or planning to get pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider about managing the risks.
Can I Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes, you can breastfeed if you have genital herpes, but not if you have a herpes sore on one of your breasts. If you have genital herpes, it is possible to spread the infection to any part of your breast, including your nipple and areola.
If you have any genital herpes sores on one or both of your breasts:
- You can keep breastfeeding as long as your baby or pumping equipment does not touch a herpes sore.
- Do not breastfeed from the breast with sores. Herpes is spread through contact with sores and can be dangerous to a newborn baby.
- Pump or hand-express your milk from the breast with sores until the sores heal. Pumping will help keep up your milk supply and prevent your breast from getting overly full and painful. You can store your milk to give to your baby in a bottle for another feeding. But if parts of your pump also touch the sore while pumping, throw the milk away.
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Can Genital Herpes Be Treated
Your physician can prescribe different medications to help reduce your symptoms and speed up the healing of an outbreak. These medicines work best when you start them soon after an outbreak occurs.
To reduce pain during an outbreak:
- Sit in warm water in a portable bath or bathtub for about 20 minutes. Avoid bubble baths.
- Keep your genital area clean and dry, and avoid tight clothes.
- Take over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Avoid aspirin.
Let your physician know if you are worried about your genital herpes. He or she can recommend a support group to help you cope with the virus.
Coping With Your Feelings
Finding out that you have genital herpes may cause you to have negative thoughts or feelings about yourself or about sex, such as:
- Feeling ashamed or embarrassed.
- Being afraid of the consequences of the infection.
- Being angry at the person who infected you.
- Feeling frustrated with treatment or recurrent outbreaks.
- Feeling scared to have sex.
A counsellor or support groups for people with herpes may be helpful.
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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.
Avoid Triggering Herpes Outbreaks
If you have oral or genital herpes, avoiding an outbreak in the first place is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of transmitting herpes to another person.
Cold sores have many well-known triggers. If you suffer from cold sores, try to avoid any foods that commonly cause outbreaks. Also protect your skin during prolonged exposure to harsh wind and sunlight. Be careful not bite your lip when you chew your food.
If you have genital herpes, refrain from sexual activity if your genitals begin to feel irritated or raw. Make sure that your clothing isn’t too tight, since tight clothing can trigger an outbreak. Women may also want to use menstrual products without harsh dyes and perfumes to avoid irritating the genital area and triggering an outbreak.
Managing your daily stress level is an important part of avoiding a herpes outbreak regardless of whether you have HSV-1 or HSV-2.
Try to restrict your alcohol and sugar intake to moderate levels. Nourish your body with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and water. Be aware that outbreaks are a possibility when your immune system is fighting off other types of infections.
Using phototherapy, like that used in the Luminance RED Mouth Sore Treatment Device and the Luminance RED Genital Sore Treatment Device, at the first sign of an outbreak can also decrease the pain, healing time and frequency of outbreaks.
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Preventing Neonatal Hsv Infection
Efforts to prevent neonatal transmission have not been very effective. Universal screening has not been recommended or shown to be effective.
Clinicians should ask all pregnant women whether they have had genital herpes and should emphasize the importance of not contracting herpes during pregnancy.
If women have herpes symptoms when labor begins, cesarean delivery is recommended to prevent transmission to the neonate. Pregnant women with genital herpes can be given acyclovir starting at 36 weeks gestation to reduce the risk of a recurrence and thus the need for cesarean delivery.
Fetal scalp monitors should be avoided during labor on infants whose mothers have a history of genital herpes.
Try Taking The Supplement Lysine
In terms of taking supplements to prevent breakouts, I especially recommend L-lysine. This is the primary supplement for herpes, Gade says. L-lysine is an amino acid, a building block of protein. When you have an outbreak, it can be taken orally to shorten the outbreak in conjunction with an antiviral medication.
Lysine appears to be useful in reducing the number and the severity of outbreaks. The usual daily dose is between 1 and 3 milligrams.
Some studies suggest that taking lysine regularly may help prevent outbreaks of both cold sores and herpes sores. In Gades experience, patients have had no side effects using lysine. In some people, though, there have been reports of the supplement causing abdominal pain and diarrhea.
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Are Antiviral Medications Safe
Antiviral medications are considered to be very safe. They are nearly always well tolerated because the active ingredients only have an effect in cells that have been infected by the virus.
People who have kidney failure may need to take a lower dose because the medication is removed from the body through the kidneys.
What Are The Risks Of Getting Hsv From An Infected Person
HSV-2 most commonly causes genital herpes through contact with genital sores. However, it can even spread when there are no visible sores or partners who dont even know that they are infected. According to statistics, around 87% of people infected with HSV-2 dont know that they have the disease.
Several studies have experimented with the rate of transmission between partners. According to a 2004 study of the New England Journal of Medicine, there were 1484 couples, and one of the partners had the virus. The asymptomatic partner had monthly checkups to check for symptoms of the disease. Doctors educated 741 couples about protection using condoms to avoid herpes transmission. Amongst those couples, only 27 became infected, and 16 of them had an outbreak.
According to the CDC, almost 775,000 people contract genital herpes infection. Moreover, it is common in women because it transmits from men to women during sexual contact. Other than avoiding sexual contact, there is no other way to prevent the transmission completely. Using condoms can reduce the transmission, but it doesnt eliminate the risk. Alternatively, there is another method to reduce the risk of using antiviral medicines.
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Should I Take Antiviral Pills For My Herpes
Reasons for choosing short course/episodic treatment:
Reasons for choosing suppression/prophylactic/long-term treatment:
See section above for the dosing.
There are now UK-based websites, such as MedExpress, which are authorised by the Care Quality Commission to sell aciclovir for treating genital herpes to diagnosed patients.
Beware: Many other websites advertise fake treatments or even cures. They may include testimonials and statements by people who claim to be doctors. They are scams. Do not be fooled.
Implications For Hiv Prevention In Women
It is important for service providers who work with women to understand the biology of HIV transmission in females so that they can communicate this information to women while providing appropriate prevention counselling.
There are several key messages that can be given to female clients about the risk of HIV transmission through vaginal sex:
- A healthy female genital tract has protective defences that can fight HIV infection however, it also has biological vulnerabilities that contribute to a greater risk of HIV infection compared to men.
- Inflammation in the female genital tract is associated with an increased risk of HIV infection. Inflammation can be caused by STIs, vaginal conditions, friction during sex, and cleansing practices , among other things.
- STIs and other vaginal conditions may increase risk, even if they are not symptomatic. Women should be tested for STIs regularly and treated if necessary.
- Women with diverse needs and preferences have prevention options available to them for reducing their risk of getting HIV, including methods they can initiate themselves and those that require greater partner involvement.
- Women in a serodiscordant relationship who want to conceive have several options for preventing HIV transmission within the relationship, and should seek expert medical advice to review these options.
When counselling women about their risk for HIV transmission through vaginal sex and their prevention options:
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