Today we are going to talk to you about herpes which is transmitted by contact (from skin to skin). One simple example is when you kiss your lover on an infected area. Let’s jump into the details and remember that even though we are not doctors, we can still direct you to the resources and answers needed.
The Herpes virus is classified as a sexually transmitted infection (and that’s why we often call it genital herpes). It often appears in the form of blisters. .
There are two types of genital herpes.
- First, there is HSV-1, which is generally located on the mouth and can sometimes be transmitted to the genitals and/or anus.
- Then there is the HVS-2 type, which is usually located in the anal and genital area and very rarely on the mouth.
Note that a co-infection of types 1 and 2 is possible.
It’s important to know that many people live with herpes (67% of the world’s population under the age of 50 lives with herpes type 1 according to the WHO). SO you are not alone at all.
It’s possible to live with herpes and not have any symptoms. The symptoms can vary a lot from one person to another. Symptoms include blisters (lesions), individually or in clusters, anywhere in the area of the genitals or anus; these blisters crust over and heal within one to two weeks. Other symptoms are also possible such as fever, muscle ache, and burning skin. Note that these symptoms are common and may be associated with other things.
Symptoms may decrease in intensity over time. They are especially intense and painful during the primary infection known as the initial episode. Other factors such as stress, anxiety, colds, and flu can reactivate the virus..
Even if there is no curative treatment for the moment, several strategies can help avoid the appearance of recurrences (reactivations of the virus), such as medication, stress management, a healthy diet, etc
For there to be a transmission, two conditions are necessary:
1. The first is to have an area where the virus is active.
2. The second is to have an entry point (lesion, small wound, mucous membrane).
Don’t worry: talking about the risk of transmission does not automatically mean transmission!
The only way to know for sure whether or not you have genital herpes is to get tested. A doctor or nurse can do the test. The test involves taking a swab of fluids from a sore. Blood tests can also determine if someone has a herpes infection but are not able to determine whether it is an oral or genital infection.
This test can only detect antibodies to virus type 1 or type 2. It can determine your type of herpes, but not the region of your body where it is located. For example, if you are positive for herpes type 1, you will not be able to know if it is located on the oral or genital level. The results are therefore difficult to interpret and can be stressful.
Treatment and good news:
The very good news is that taking suppressive drug treatment (once a day) reduces recurrences and asymptomatic shedding. The risk of transmission to the partner, therefore, falls to 1.1% of the time in the year.
As you have noticed, when you learn more about the virus, your knowledge helps you live better with it because you can adopt better strategies for preventing and managing the virus.
Remember that most of the time, herpes is not life-threatening (with some rare exceptions for immunocompromised people or for babies during childbirth if there is no medical follow-up).