Ten important facts about Herpes that you need to know. Find out the implications of having this condition, or to avoid contracting this highly contagious disease. If you suspect you have Herpes, or are pregnant you definitely need to read this.
Herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). It is a virus that can affect the mouth or the genitals. HSV1 causes Oral Herpes and HSV2 causes Genital Herpes. The main symptom of the condition is sores in the relevant area, which blister and then shed.
Herpes is for life. Once the virus is in your body, it stays there for ever. After an outbreak it lies dormant and can surface at any time, generally when your immune system is low. It is contagious all the time, even when you have no symptoms.
Herpes is contagious. 90% of sufferers have no symptoms but they can still pass the virus on to others. Any skin to skin contact with the affected areas can pass it on. If you touch an area that is infected with the virus and don’t wash your hands and touch another area on your body, or someone else’s, you can transmit the disease. It can also be spread by sharing cups or glasses and towels. You don’t have to have full blown sex to get or spread the condition.
Using a condom isn’t always enough to prevent the spread of Herpes. If you or your partner have any lesions that are outside the area covered by a condom, it is still possible to spread the virus by skin to skin contact. The virus can affect the area around the genitals, such as the anus, thighs, pelvic area and abdomen.
Herpes isn’t just spread by sex. Oral Herpes can be spread by touch or kissing. Many people get oral herpes in childhood by kissing or being kissed by others.
Most doctors don’t test for Herpes. Even in a standard STD test, it is rare that the tests include Herpes. If you want a Herpes test, you need to ask for one. A blood test or serology is more likely to give a positive test than a swab. Your doctor may be able to give you a pretty good idea whether or not you have the condition just by looking at the sores, but for a conclusive diagnosis, a blood test is the best bet, especially if you want to identify which strain you have.
Having Herpes increases your risk of getting HPV (Genital warts), HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases. This is because your immune system is compromised because your immune system is busy making antibodies to the herpes virus. Also any lesions will cause broken skin on your body, allowing easy entry for any other bacteria or viruses.
You can be positive to herpes even if you have had no symptoms whatsoever. Some people have the virus for months or years without exhibiting ANY symptoms. You can reduce your risk of contracting sexual diseases by limiting the number of sexual partners you have, and practising protective sex.
Herpes can be passed on to a baby during birth. If the mother has herpes, and especially if she has a current outbreak, the virus can be passed on to the baby as it passes through the birth canal. This can be avoided by treating the mother in advance to limit attacks and, in severe cases, by delivering the baby by Cesarean Section.
Newborn babies cannot fight Herpes and may die as a result of catching the virus. If the mother has Female Genital Herpes before becoming pregnant, or catches the disease early in the pregnancy, she will have made antibodies to the virus and can pass these on to the baby via the placenta. This will offer the baby some protection against the condition. If she get Herpes late in pregnancy, there may not be enough time for her body to make the antibodies and pass them to the baby as antibodies are not transmitted via the placenta until 28 weeks gestation. The baby’s immune system is not developed at birth, so the baby cannot fight infections easily. It is rare, but babies have died from catching Herpes during birth.