Saturday, May 12, 2007

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease (STD). A sexually
transmitted disease is a disease that you get by having sex with someone who already has the disease. Genital herpes is usually caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2 (known as HSV-2). The disease is usually transmitted by sexual intercourse, with the virus passing from the infected partner via the skin, vagina, penis, or anus. Once you are infected, the virus stays in your body for life. You can give herpes to another person if you have sex when your herpes virus is active. HSV remains in certain nerve cells of the body forever, and can produce symptoms off and on in some infected people.

Genital Herpes is spread through direct contact. So, a genital herpes infection will stay in the area it originated unless transferred elsewhere via direct contact or skin-to-skin transference. Herpes won't just show up on its own somewhere else on the body. Because herpes is spread through direct contact, it is important to avoid contact with infected areas. If a herpes infection is not localized, further complications may occur. Herpes is equally common in males and females.

HSV-1 can cause genital herpes, but it more commonly causes infections of the mouth and
lips, so-called "fever blisters." HSV-1 infection of the genitals can be caused by
oral-genital or genital-genital contact with a person who has HSV-1 infection. Genital
HSV-1 outbreaks recur less regularly than genital HSV-2 outbreaks.

Most of the people who are infected with HSV-2 have no symptoms of disease or they do not recognize their symptoms. Only about one third of people who first become infected with HSV-2 have symptoms. These symptoms often include fever, headache, genital pain, genital discharge, and blisters. Even if you have no symptoms, genital herpes can be diagnosed by testing your blood for an antibody to HSV-2. When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take two to four weeks to heal the first time they occur.

Typically, another outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first, but it almost
always is less severe and shorter than the first episode. Although the infection can stay
in the body indefinitely, the number of outbreaks tends to go down over a period of years.
Once the virus infects you, it moves from the skin or membranes around the genitals to the
central nervous system, where it remains for life. The virus can "wake up" or reactivate
to cause a recurrence of the disease. When reactivation occurs, the virus travels down the
nerves to the skin. It may cause blisters, genital itching, tenderness, burning, tingling,
or redness, but it usually just makes copies of itself with no symptoms.

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