In today’s article, we look at a largely misunderstood virus. No, not THAT virus. I am talking about the Herpes Virus.
There are a lot of false assumptions about herpes that I would like to clarify. Let’s bust some myths!
To start with, the herpes virus has two types. The HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is linked with an oral outbreak whereas the HSV-2 is what we normally associate with a genital outbreak.
However, a person can get either an HSV–1 or HSV–2 infection genitally. And by genitally, it can be seen on the vulva, in the vagina, or on the penis.
How many people have herpes? About 50% of people are carriers. This implies that half the population has developed antibodies to the herpes virus, and it lies dormant on the ganglions (a group of nerve cell bodies located outside the central nervous system). These people are asymptomatic, and may never realize they have been exposed.
How does it spread? A person can get genital herpes by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a partner who has the disease. Also, one is exposed to the herpes virus through an asymptomatic partner. The virus can shed in an asymptomatic partner and provide a means for transmission.
What does a genital herpes outbreak look like? An outbreak happens when a person is first exposed. It is seen as multiple lesions, that can be painful and may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes.
How do we check for it? A diagnose can be made based on a physical exam and the results of certain laboratory tests such as viral culture and blood tests.
How is it treated? Treatment for the herpes virus is accessible. Medications such as valacyclovir or acyclovir may be recommended.
HSV is a virus that many people have, but few are aware of. It is certainly important that we all know our status to seek early treatment and avoid spreading it to others. Do not hesitate to see a health professional if you think you’re experiencing similar symptoms.
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