Microsoft word - genital herpes simplex.doc

Genital Herpes Simplex Virus Infection

Most herpes infections are transmitted from one person who has the infection to another through
sexual contact (sexual intercourse, oral sex or anal sex). If you have had more than one sexual partner
it may be difficult to know who transmitted the infection, but there are tests available to determine
whether this is a new infection or an outbreak of a pre-existing infection.
There is no cure for herpes. After an outbreak the virus becomes inactive. However, it remains in the
nerves that attach to the skin in the genital area and can reactivate at any time. It is difficult to predict
when this will occur or how often. Most people report that outbreaks become less frequent over time.
If you have frequent outbreaks your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication that will reduce the
number and severity of the outbreaks. The medication is most effective if taken within 24 to 48 hours
of the onset of the outbreak.
An outbreak might be triggered by stress, fever, sexual activity, menstruation or other hormonal
changes. These vary from one person to the next and may even vary for the same person.
Prevention: Abstinence is the only way to guarantee that you will not contract herpes from an
infected partner. The next best protection is the use of condoms. The condom must cover the area
where the outbreak usually occurs. For example, if the outbreak usually affects the shaft of the penis, a
condom can protect the partner; however, if the thighs or scrotum are usually the affected areas, a
condom will not be adequate because it won’t cover those areas.
Although use of condoms might not be necessary if both partners have herpes, a condom will offer
protection against hepatitis B and HIV as well. Current data suggest that a person with herpes simplex
infection is twice as likely to contract HIV infection if he or she is exposed to the virus, even through a
micro-ulceration in the skin.
Treatment: Outbreaks can be treated with medications such as acyclovir, famciclovir and
valacyclovir. Although they are not cures, these antiviral medications decrease the pain, duration and
severity of the infection. If you have recurrent outbreaks it is advisable to have a filled prescription
available at all times so that treatment is not delayed. Sitz baths are also helpful as well as are loose-
fitting clothing and analgesics (such as Ibuprofen and acetaminophen). Topical treatments are not
effective and should not be used. Occasionally secondary infections, urinary retention or
dissemination occur in some people and may require hospitalization.
Having Children: A female with herpes can get pregnant and have healthy babies. If you are
thinking about having children, it is very important to discuss this with your doctor so that all
necessary precautions can be taken to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Shared: WEBSITE / Health & Illness / Adolescence Issues / Herpes May 2010


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