Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD). You may be surprised to find that there are two common types of herpes simplex virus infections – Type 1 (HSV-1) and Type 2 (HSV-2). In fact, 85 percent of the world’s population is infected with at least one type. Both men and women can be infected with herpes simplex virus, but the pattern of infection is different.
Herpes infections are caused by herpes simplex viruses, which enter through the skin and travel to the nerves, where they generally do not cause problems. Herpes can cause skin sores, however, when the viruses become active. Herpes simplex virus is transmitted through close personal contact include exchange of saliva, semen, cervical fluid, or vesicles in active lesions. You can get genital herpes through oral sex (if someone has a cold sore in their mouth/lips), vaginal intercourse. HSV 1 is usually associated with infection around the mouth and lips or around them, while HSV 2 is usually associated with genital infection.Other parts of the body, such as the eyes or neck, can also be affected.Both viruses can affect areas associated with other viruses.
Herpes and HIV infection
The availability of HSV makes sexual transmission of HIV more likely. People with HIV and herpes are more likely to transmit HIV because herpes increases HIV load. In addition, HIV is present in herpes vesicles.The presence of herpes virus can increase the level of genital “shedding” of HIV (virus being present in genital secretions at infectious levels).
HSV is easiest to be found when infection is still active, so it’s best to seek medical advice when you have symptoms. It can be diagnosed by examining the affected skin, as well as swabs that extract fluid from the blisters. Blood tests can detect the virus, but they are not routinely used. Regular sexual health checks will not look for herpes unless you let employees know you have symptoms or concerns.
There is no cure for herpes virus infection.
HIV treatment is an important factor in reducing the incidence of herpes but has less impact on genital shedding.
Having antiviral treatment can reduce the discomfort of disease outbreaks.When you use them, they reduce the amount of virus replication. The most commonly used treatments are acyclovir, varaciclovir and fasilovir. Antiviral treatment of herpes virus infection is effective in people infected with HIV who are used to treat outbreaks of disease. There is evidence that they have been less effective in suppressing the spread of the herpes virus among people living with HIV.
The sooner you start treatment, the better it will be. Although effective in preventing an outbreak of herpes simplex, antiviral drugs usually do little good once an attack on genital herpes is established.In the wake of the outbreak, it is recommended that people living with HIV begin antiviral treatment of HSV as soon as possible.
Antiviral drugs are usually taken in tablet form and taken five times a day for seven to 10 days to treat severe oral, genital or anal herpes.In severe cases, aciclovir can be administered intravenously.
Antiviral drugs can be used as a “situational” treatment, where you feel the symptoms of an attack (usually tingling and numbness) every time. For many people living with HIV, a standard situational care regimen (five days) will work well.However, if your immune system weakens, you may need longer antiviral drugs. They can also be prescribed as “suppressive” treatments, usually if you have more than six outbreaks a year.If this is your case, you may receive treatment for up to a year.
You can reduce the discomfort of an outbreak by taking painkillers or using topical anesthetics such as lidocaine and soaking affected areas in salt water.Ice packs or cold, wet tea bags may help. Avoid tight clothing and drink plenty of water.