Screening And Early Detection
Unlike some STIs, routine blood testing is not recommended for people who dont have symptoms of herpes. However, if there is concern about exposure or new symptoms, this testing may be recommended. People should talk with a healthcare provider to determine whether blood testing is necessary.
Although blood testing is not routinely done, screening for STIs should include a thorough exam to check for herpes lesions on the genitals .
The CDC recommends blood testing if you have symptoms of genital herpes. Testing should also be pursued if you are pregnant and are having sex with someone with herpes.
Testing may also be useful if:
- You are not pregnant but are having sex with someone with herpes.
Who Response To Herpes
As well as increasing awareness about HSV infection and its symptoms, improved access to antiviral medications and heightened HIV prevention efforts for those with genital HSV symptoms are needed globally.
In addition, development of better treatment and prevention interventions is needed, particularly HSV vaccines. WHO and partners are working to accelerate research to develop new strategies for prevention and control of genital and neonatal HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections. Such research includes the development of HSV vaccines and topical microbicides. Several candidate vaccines and microbicides are currently being studied.
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Antivirals That Require A Prescription
- Acyclovir is a prescription medication used to improve the healing of sores or blisters caused by a number of conditions, including first-time and repeat outbreaks of genital herpes. It works by slowing or stopping the spread of the herpes virus within the body, but it cannot cure genital herpes.
- Valacyclovir is another antiviral prescription drug used to treat genital herpes and shingles. Taken twice a day for five days, Valtrex may decrease uncomfortable symptoms and help sores heal faster. In some cases, this antiviral can also prevent new sores from forming.
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Pay Attention To What You Eat
ASHA reports that some people believe foods containing the amino acid arginine, such as legumes and whole grains, can contribute to outbreaks. A few older studies, conducted in 1981 and 1987, showed a possible connection, but ASHA states there is no clinical evidence to support these studies. However, because triggers may vary based on the individual, keep track of the foods you eat to determine if there is a connection.
How To Get Rid Of Herpes The Conventional Way
For most people with herpes, the virus typically represents nothing more than an inconvenience however, the real risk is for immuno-compromised patients who cant easily manage infections. In these patients, such as those with HIV/AIDS, herpes simplex infection is associated with increased morbidity and mortality.
As of 2017, there is not currently a herpes vaccine available to prevent HSV-1 or HSV-2.
Doctors sometimes prescribe medications to help keep the herpes virus suppressed or to speed up healing of cold sores by reducing bacteria that can cause infections. Some medications that are now used to control herpes include:
- Nucleoside analogues and antiviral medications
- Creams/ointment to help lower pain and inflammation near the site of sores
- Over-the-counter painkillers to reduce aches, tenderness or fever
However, its important to understand that even with early detection and prescription medications, either form of the herpes virus cannot be totally cured so transmission is always still possible. Medications for viruses dont always work long term and are not a cure-all.
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Is Genital Herpes Infection Related To Hiv
Herpes and HIV are caused by different viruses. But patients infected with these viruses are more likely to transmit either disease to their sexual partners. Patients with herpes are more vulnerable to HIV infection. People newly diagnosed with herpes should be tested for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections.
Patients who are infected with both herpes and HIV also may have a higher concentration of HIV viruses in their body because of the interaction between the herpes virus and the HIV virus. When HIV damages a persons immune system, the person may be more likely to shed herpes simplex virus asymptomatically.
How Is Herpes Simplex Diagnosed
Healthcare providers may diagnose herpes simplex based on how the sores look. Your provider may take a sample from the sore. Laboratory analysis of the sample can confirm or rule out the herpes virus.
If you dont have sores, your healthcare provider can use a blood test to check for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibody, a marker showing youve been exposed to the virus. The blood test doesnt show an active infection . But it informs your provider whether youve been exposed to the herpes virus in the past. If this is your first infection, you may not test positive for herpes if there hasnt been enough time for your body to develop antibodies. The HSV-1and HSV-2 antibody test may be repeated in eight to 12 weeks.
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Could I Have Genital Herpes And Not Know
Unless no one has ever kissed you, and unless youve never had sex, it is possible that youve picked up a herpes virus.
Oral herpes, usually caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 , shows up as cold sores or fever blisters on the mouth. Even a casual peck on the lips from someone with a cold sore can give you the virus. Thats why its so common: As many as 50% to 80% of adults in the U.S. have oral herpes.
Genital herpes, most often caused by the second type of herpes virus , is less common, but plenty of people still have it. Roughly one in five U.S. adults has genital herpes. But up to 90% of those who have it dont know they are infected. You could be one of them.
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.
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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.
What Can Be Done In Addition To Using Condoms
Wearing condoms during sex doesnt provide guaranteed protection from a herpes infection, but its one of the most effective ways to reduce your partners risk. In fact, research indicates that consistent condom users face a 30% lower risk of HSV-2 infection compared to those who never use condoms at all.
But nothing is foolproof, so these additional precautions can help you reduce the risk of infection as much as possible.
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Reducing The Risk Of Genital Herpes
The herpes virus cant pass through a condom. However, if the virus is present and active on the skin in areas around the genitals not covered by the condom , infection may still occur. Therefore condoms are not 100% protective against the herpes virus.
If your partner has herpes, avoiding sex when they have visible sores reduces your risk of getting herpes.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is the best treatment for me?
- What happens if I dont treat a cold sore?
- What are the side effects of antiviral medications?
- How can I reduce the risk of future outbreaks?
- Whats the best way to prevent getting another STI?
- How can I protect my partner from getting genital herpes?
- Should I lookout for signs of complications?
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Treatment For Oral Herpes
The antiviral medications available in pill form have been specifically developed for the treatment of genital herpes. However, it is not uncommon for healthcare providers to prescribe the antiviral drugs to those who have frequent or severe outbreaks of oral herpes.
A recent study found valacyclovir to be effective for treating oral herpes in a one-day treatment of 2 grams taken at the first sign of a cold sore, and then again about 12 hours later.
There are two topical antiviral medications prescribed for the treatment of oral HSV symptoms: acyclovir ointment and penciclovir cream. Both work to speed up the healing process and reduce the viral activity. These topical drugs are put directly on the lesions themselves, but can also be used at the onset of prodrome.
Other topical treatments for oral herpes are available over-the-counter , but are not antiviral compounds like acyclovir and penciclovir. Some also contain ingredients that numb the area and induce temporary relief from the discomfort of an outbreak. Unfortunately, some OTC treatments may actually delay the healing time of symptoms because they can further irritate the area with repeated applications. There is only one OTC FDA-approved cream, called Abreva®, which has been clinically proven to help speed the healing process.
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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Epidemiology Of Genital Hsv
The best HSV-1 and HSV-2 seroprevalence data in the United States have been generated by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey . Based on NHANES data collected from 2015-2016, the HSV-2 seroprevalence rate for that period was 12.1% for persons 14-49 years of age. The following summarizes several key features from the NHANES 2015-2016 report for HSV-2 seroprevalence for persons 14-19 years of age.
What Are Herpes Recurrences And How Likely Are They
Recurrences are repeat symptoms which appear at or close to the place where the infection was first noticed. These are often fairly minor and may be no more than a small spot that heals in a few days. They may be accompanied by sensations itches or nerve twinges. They are unlikely to be as severe as first symptoms and may be almost unnoticed.
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Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes as long as there isnt an open lesion on your chest or breast. If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.
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How To Get Rid Of Herpes Symptoms Naturally
By Joe Boland
Herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases , prompting many to wonder how to get rid of herpes naturally.
The herpes virus can live dormant inside a persons immune system for a lifetime, periodically causing blisters that burst and turn into open cold sores or ulcers before healing. When left alone, herpes cold sores usually last about 1014 days and are uncomfortable for a variety of reasons causing redness, pain, burning and often embarrassment.
Many people wonder if there is a natural cure for herpes or are looking for ways on how to get rid of herpes for good. While technically the virus that causes herpes is not curable, there are many natural herpes remedies that can put herpes into remission. In fact, many people with herpes dont experience any symptoms at all, especially long term, once they learn to manage triggers of outbreaks. So while theres no guide for how to get rid of herpes naturally, there is a method for how to get rid of herpes symptoms the natural way and keep breakouts at bay.
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How Much Valacyclovir Should You Take For A Cold Sore Outbreak
Cold sores also come and go, with many people experiencing recurrent outbreaks every few months after the initial outbreak passes. Like genital herpes, oral herpes outbreaks are often triggered by external factors, such as hormonal changes and illnesses.
The standard valacyclovir dosage for an outbreak of cold sores is the same as the dosage used for a primary oral herpes outbreak 2,000 mg of valacyclovir taken every 12 hours, for a total of two doses. Taken early in a cold sore outbreak, this can significantly speed up healing.
For particularly bad outbreaks of cold sores, your doctor may also recommend the use of topical treatments, which can alleviate pain, itching and discomfort. Follow your doctors instructions on medication use for the fastest recovery and best results.
How Is Herpes Transmitted
Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
What is herpes, and how is herpes transmitted? Those are the questions on the menu today, and as usual, were here with answers. Herpes is a contagious virus thats transmitted in a variety of ways, from kissing to direct sexual contact. Its also one of the most common viral infections, affecting up to 67% of people aged 14-49 in the United States and 16% of all adults .
Although herpes infection rates are declining, its still an extremely common virus. Part of this is due to the ease at which herpes can be transmitted from one person to another through normal activity that most of us dont think of as risky.
In this guide, well discuss how HSV-1 and HSV-2 can spread from one person to others, and share simple precautions that you can take to reduce your risk of exposure to herpes from friends, family members and sexual partners.
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Can Women Who Have Sex With Women Get Genital Herpes
Yes. It is possible to get genital herpes, or any other STI, if you are a woman who has sex only with women.
Talk to your partner about her sexual history before having sex, and ask your doctor or nurse about getting tested if you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes. Use a dental dam during oral sex and avoid sexual activity during an outbreak.
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