Herpes Simplex Viruses (HSV)

Herpes Simplex Virus is a viral sexually transmitted infection that is detected by swabbing sores or a blood test and is treatable, but not curable. Symptoms include numerous painful lesions (sores) on the penis, vagina, anus, buttocks, thighs, mouth, or finger that last 4-21 days, headache, fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and difficult urination. Two types of herpes include Herpes Simplex Virus - 1, which causes most oral infections and some genital infections and Herpes Simplex Virus - 2, which causes most genital infections and some oral infections.

Also know as: Herpes, HSV, HSV-1, HSV-2 

How You Get It:

  • Vaginal, anal, and oral sex or gential touching with someone who has herpes
  • Can still pass it on to others when symptoms go away
  • Passed to babies in the womb or through the birth canal
  • Can be spread by skin-to-skin contact if condom does not cover herpes sore(s)

Symptoms:

  • Show up 1-30 days after infection
  • Numerous painful lesions (sores) on the penis, vagina, vulva, anus, buttocks, thighs, mouth or finger that last 4-21 days
  • Headache
  • Burning or pain during urination or bowel movements
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Symptoms may or may not come back, but the infected person will still have herpes
  • Most people with herpes can tell when they are going to have an outbreak because of a tingling sensation in the affected area

Prevention: With condom or barrier method use in some cases, abstaining from sex

Testing: The best method of testing is by swabbing the sores (when sores are present.) A blood test may also be done, but since most people have come into contact with the virus at some point in their lives - the test is not definitive

Treatment:

  • Treatable, NOT curable
  • Anti-viral medicaiton can lessen the duration, severity and frequency of outbreaks
  • People who have herpes can, and do, live long fulfilling lives

If left untreated:

  • Will continue to spread it to sex partners, even when symptoms are not present or while taking antiviral medication
  • Most herpes sores will clear up on their own, but can get worse and spread throughout the infected area
  • Increased risk for other sexually transmitted infections

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