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Genital Herpes STD Test

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Most people who have contracted genital herpes are unaware, and infection in the United States is common, with about 16 percent of people 14 to 49 years of age having the HSV-2 virus. Symptoms are not often visible and people infected are regularly unaware of their condition, until painful breakouts occur. 

General Information:

  • Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted virus
  • Genital Herpes is very common in men and women in the U.S.
  • 1 out of 6 people have HSV-2 in America
  • Genital Herpes often has no symptoms - making it common for people to not know they have it
  • When present, common symptoms are small painful blisters or sores on the genitals or anus
  • Infected individuals can easily pass it on to sex partners without knowing it
  • There is no cure, but Genital Herpes is TREATABLE with Antiviral Medications for symptoms
  • Genital Herpes does not typically cause long-term serious health problems

Name: Genital Herpes

Category: Treatable, not curable

Lab Test: Blood Specimen

Treatment: Antiviral Medications to shorten or prevent outbreaks

Genital Herpes Facts

Description: Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted viral infection affecting the skin or mucous membranes of the genitals. Genital herpes is caused by two viruses:

  • Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2)
  • Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1)

Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) causes most cases of genital herpes. HSV-2 can be spread through secretions from the mouth or genitals.

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) most often causes herpes infections of the mouth and lips (commonly called cold sores or fever blisters). HSV-1 can spread from the mouth to the genitals during oral sex.

Stats: Over 16% of the U.S. population (ages of 14-49) have genital HSV-2 infection.

  • 1 out of 5 women have HSV-2 in America
  • 1 out of 9 men have HSV-2 in America

Exposure: Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is spread during sexual contact. Infection occurs when your skin, vagina, penis, or mouth make contact with an individual who already has herpes.

Herpes is most frequently transmitted from contact with the skin of an infected person has an active herpes outbreak - visible sores, blisters, or a rash. It is also possible to get herpes from an infected person's skin when they have NO visible sores present (and the person may not even know that he or she is infected), or from an infected persons mouth (saliva) or vaginal fluids.

Because the virus can be spread even when there are no symptoms or sores present, a sexual partner who has been infected with herpes in the past but has no active herpes sores can still pass the infection on to others.

Incubation: 2-12 days

Symptoms: Many people with HSV-2 infection never have sores, or their symptoms are so mild they confuse them with routine skin irritations.

If symptoms do occur during the first outbreak, they can be more obvious and severe. This first outbreak usually happens within 2 weeks of being infected.

Genital Herpes Symptoms

General symptoms may include:

  • Muscle and body ache in lower back and legs
  • Reduced appetite, Fever, General sick feeling
  • Genital symptoms include the appearance of small, painful blisters filled with clear or straw-colored fluid. They are usually found:
  • In women: on the outer vaginal lips (labia), vagina, cervix, around the anus, and on the thighs or buttocks
  • In men: on the penis, scrotum, around the anus, on the thighs or buttocks
  • In both sexes: on the tongue, mouth, eyes, gums, lips, fingers, and other parts of the body
  • Before the blisters appear, the person may feel the skin tingling, burning, itching, or have pain at the site where the blisters will appear
  • When the blisters break, they leave shallow ulcers that are very painful. These ulcers eventually crust over and slowly heal over 7 - 14 days or more
  • Other symptoms that may occur include:
  • Enlarged and tender lymph nodes in the groin during an outbreak
  • Painful urination
  • Women may have vaginal discharge or, occasionally, be unable to empty the bladder and require a urinary catheter

A second outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first. It is almost always less severe and shorter than the first outbreak. Over time, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease.

Once a person is infected, however, the virus hides within nerve cells and remains in the body. The virus can remain "asleep" (dormant) for a long period of time (this is called latency).

The infection can flare-up or reactivate at any time. Events that can trigger latent infection to become active and bring on an outbreak include:

  • Fatigue
  • Genital irritation
  • Menstruation
  • Physical or emotional stress
  • Trauma

Attacks can recur as seldom as once per year, or so often that the symptoms seem continuous. Recurrent infections in men are generally milder and shorter than those in women.

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