GENITAL HERPESSexually Transmitted Disease
As the STD testing and treatment clinic in Malaysia, we can say that herpes probably comes second after HIV/AIDS in terms of popularity, because both falls under incurable sexually transmitted disease. While herpes do not mainly causes death, it will haunts youfor a lifetime and medicine are meant to shorten the duration of an episode.
Herpes are caused by a Virus (Herpes Simplex Virus or HSV). There are mainly 2 types of HSV :-
- HSV 1 – causes oral herpes. Which effected mouth area
- HSV 2 – causes genital herpes. Which effected genitals or groin area.
HSV 2 are more aggressive than HSV 1 as it is known to cause brain infections (meningitis and enchephalitis) and can effect nerve cells. This is due to the fact that this virus ‘live’ for lifelong in nerve cells. They breed and hibernate in our nerve cells and ‘appear to the surface’ once a while, which is definitely painstaking to the patients.
HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS 1 (HSV1) / ORAL HERPES :
Oral Herpes is commonly referred as Oral Facial Herpes. This is due to oral herpes infection is not limited to just the oral area but can also affect areas inside the nose, cheek & chin. Transmission mode is known to be direct contact from infected person to another, most commonly from kisses and oral sex.
Not all kisses and oral sex between infected and non-infected person will result to Oral Herpes infection. The non-infected person has higher chance of getting infected if there is skin or mucosal break during contact (mouth ulcers, skin cut or abrasion ect).
Also the non-infected person antibody level plays a major role. One with a weaker antibody is more susceptible towards infection including HSV-1 compared to those with better immunity, generally speaking.
HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS 2 (HSV2) / GENITAL HERPES :
Herpes genitalis is the term used by doctors in diagnosis of genital herpes. It should be emphasis that herpes have
No Cure: there is no effective treatment to kill the virus once its strike.
No Vaccine: there is no vaccine to avoid from being infected from HSV no warning.
Anyone can have herpes, and they don’t even know they have it. It stayed inside the skin and nerve cells until it became active enough to cause symptoms. But, it is ‘transferable’ (during ‘shedding period’ or the period when viruses burst out from your cells) and can infect your sexual partner is they come into contact. Also, once you have herpes, you are bound to have inderterminate timing for the disease.
To put it simply: ’it comes and goes as it pleases’.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS :-
1. Burning Painful Sensation
2. Rashes – vesicles / blebs that are itchy and painful, later reduced to crusting (pain start to subside)
4. Body Ache
While it is not known when the disease will strike, but there is association of the disease flaring with :-
4. Body Trauma
5. Antibody Level drops
It should be emphasized that having herpes can also cause other infection (like yeast and other bacteria) to happen simultaneously.
In first episode, it may take 2-7 days to occur after being infected by sexual contact. (also called as incubation period).
A sexual partner may shed the virus for an average of 12 days during shedding period. Imagine how many person he/she can infect during the days.
During 1st episode, average patient will have symptoms for 3 weeks.
In recurring episode, symptoms may last for 2 weeks and usually less severe.
It is possible for an infected person to have symptoms 5-8 times per year.
– People at risk of Genital Herpes (and virtually all other STDs) are having :-
1. Unprotected Sex (sex without condom)
2. Multiple Sex Partners
3. Compromised Immune System
Screening is a must for Sexually Active Person. It is worth knowing your status, so that you will not infect your loved ones, and you reduce your chance of suffering this ‘fiery’ disease. YEARLY SCREENING TEST is recommended.
If you are engaging with multiple partners or had unprotected sex, MORE FREQUENT SCREENING is recommended. In the testing, doctor will have to know about your symptoms, your sexual history and your partner’s sexual history. If you have symptoms but your partner is not, it is important to get tested together as it is highly possible that he / she is also infected.
Sample will be taken from the lesion for virus culture (rarely done in clinical setting) and blood sample will be taken for virus antigen detection. If suspicious for other STDs, doctor might consider other tests as well.
TREATMENT / DISEASE MANAGEMENT :
While it is mentioned that genital herpes has NO CURE, medications are given to reduce the duration of illness and virus shedding. (imagine 3 weeks of ‘fiery’ sensation down there!).
Doctor will MOST LIKELY prescribe Antiviral Medication (eg: acyclovir) for 7-10 days if your disease is typical.
If the disease is severe, patient might need hospitalization and intravenous antivirus (IV acyclovir) is administered for at least 5 days.
Antiviral (eg: acyclovir) is also available in the form of cream, to be applied on the effected areas, but it is less efficacious to be used without combining with the oral form.
1. No sex when you have herpes symptoms (even with wearing condom)
2. Always wear condom when having sex.
3. Healthy Sex Lifestyle: while abstinence may be the best way of prevention, other good solution
is to practice monogamous relationship, get yearly screening and protected sex
Herpes genitalis gives Very Unpleasant Sensation ‘Down There’. It is so unpleasant, which lead to ‘herp-walk’. When it happen to be on your face (as in case of oral herpes), it is a major ‘turn-off’ point for sex (or even just a kiss).