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9 Things You Must Know About Herpes by Carissa Hoffman

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Herpes is one of the many sexually transmitted diseases out there.  This specific type of sexually transmitted disease may not be the most severe but if not treated it could just as easily turn into life threatening illness.  So I am going to point out some important facts you need to know about Herpes.

1. What exactly is Herpes?

Herpes is a virus caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV).   This virus can cause genital herpes.  Most herpes is caused by infection of simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).  This sexually transmitted disease is the most common STD in the United States.  It is very contagious and it is usually spread through sexual intercourse.

2. There are two types of Herpes.

When looking at this STD there are two types.  The first type is oral herpes (HSV-1).  This type is the most common.  Type one causes sores around the mouth and lips commonly referred to as fever blisters or cold sores.  These sores are contagious because they can be transmitted by oral secretions or even just skin-to-skin contact.  Many common ways of spreading type one would be by kissing and sharing objects such as toothbrushes or even eating utensils. The second type is genital herpes (HSV-2).  This form you can only get during sexual contact with someone who has genital herpes (HSV-2).  Both types can be spread even if sores are not present.

3. Some key symptoms of Herpes.

Some symptoms of herpes would be cracked, raw, or red areas around your genitals with/without pain, itching, or tingling.  Sometimes you can have the itching and tingling feeling around your anal region as well.  You could have small blisters that break open and cause painful sores.  These may be on or around your genitals.  They may even be on the buttocks, thighs, or rectal area.  Very rarely, blisters may occur in the urethra.

4. How Doctors test for the Herpes Simplex Virus

One test they will do is a DNA test.  The doctors will get a sample of blood, sore tissue, or spinal fluid that will help determine if you have oral herpes (HSV-1) or genital herpes (HSV-2).  The doctors might take a blood test which will analyze your blood for HSV antibodies to see if you had a past herpes infection.  The last test a doctor may do is a viral culture.  This test involves taking a tissue sample or scraping off some of the sores for further testing in a laboratory.   A physical will also be done along with one or possibly all these tests.

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5.  There is no cure for herpes.

Herpes cannot be cured but you can lessen your symptoms and outbreaks.  Herpes is a virus.  Once you have the virus you have it forever.  Sometimes the disease is active inside you, which would be when you get outbreaks of blisters and sores. On the other hand, the virus can be dormant inside you.  The way that this dormant virus can become active again is through stress or even being sexually active with a partner who has a flare-up of herpes.  By getting treatment you will decrease your flare-ups and decrease the chance of you passing it to your partner.

6.  There are many different kinds of treatments you can get for Herpes

The first kind of treatment you can get is called the initial treatment.  If you have symptoms of sores when you are first diagnosed with genital herpes your doctor will usually give you a brief course of antiviral therapy to relieve your symptoms or to prevent them from getting worse.  Intermittent treatment is when your doctor may give you an antiviral drug to keep on hand for only flare-ups.  The last treatment is Suppressive treatment.  This treatment is for outbreaks that happen more than six times a year.  The doctor would give you an antiviral drug that you would take every day to prevent outbreaks from occurring.

7.  Ways to Prevent Herpes.

One major way to prevent herpes is by using a latex condom.  It does not give you one hundred percent protection, but it does give you a better chance of not getting the STD.  Make sure you limit the number of sex partners you have.  The more sex partners you have had the more chances of you getting infected with the STD.  Also, avoid intercourse if your partner is having an outbreak in the genital area.

8.  What increases the risk of getting genital herpes?

One major way of increasing your risk of getting genital herpes is by having multiple sex partners.  The more sex partners the greater the chance of you becoming infected.  Not only is having multiple sex partners a factor in increasing your risk but so is a high-risk partner.  Having sex with someone who has been infected with herpes gives you a greater chance of getting infected.  If your partner has been infected make sure you wear protection more specifically a latex condom.  Another way of increasing your risk would be starting sexual activity before the age of eighteen.  Also, by simply being a woman your risk increases.  Women are more likely than men to become infected when exposed to HSV and tend to have more severe and long-lasting symptoms.

9.  Complications of Herpes.

When having herpes it makes you at a higher risk of possibly becoming infected with a different type of STD.  Also, if a woman is pregnant, and has genital herpes it could cause a problem with the baby during the birthing process.  If the baby is exposed to the virus it could cause brain damage, blindness, or even death of the newborn baby.

When looking at this STD it could be very serious if not taken care of.  Herpes is a virus that cannot be cured.  This STD can only receive treatment that can lessen your outbreaks, and keep it under control.  Just like any kind of illness if left unnoticed it can cause serious problems.  Always make sure you are well aware of your body to prevent complications.


Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Definition.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 21 May 2011. Web. 09 Dec. 2013.

“WebMD Health Search.” WebMD. WebMD, 2005. Web. 09 Dec. 2013

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