Address:1244 N.Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL, 60622. Phone: 312-470-6655 Fax: 773-698-6456. info@midwesthealthchicago.com

Visit Our Social Networks:

linkedin facebook twitter
Home # News

Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet

Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet

What is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2).

How common is genital herpes? Genital herpes infection is common in the United States. Nationwide, 16.2%, or about one out of six, people aged 14 to 49 years have genital HSV-2 infection. Over the past decade, the percentage of persons with genital herpes infection in the United States has remained stable.
Transmission from an infected male to his female partner is more likely than from an infected female to her male partner. Because of this, genital HSV-2 infection is more common in women (approximately one out of five women aged 14 to 49 years) than in men (about one out of nine men aged 14 to 49 years).

What are the symptoms of genital herpes? Most individuals infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 experience either no symptoms or have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed or are mistaken for another skin condition.  Because of this, most people infected with HSV-2 are not aware of their infection. When symptoms do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take two to four weeks to heal. Experiencing these symptoms is sometimes referred to as having an “outbreak.” The first time someone has an outbreak they may also experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches and swollen glands.

How do people get genital herpes? People get herpes by having sex with someone who has the disease.  HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be found in and released from the sores that the viruses cause. The viruses can also be released from skin that does not appear to have a sore. Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection.

What are the complications of genital herpes? Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores in many adults and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.  If a person with genital herpes touches their sores or the fluids from the sores, they may transfer herpes to another part of the body.

How is genital herpes diagnosed? Health care providers can diagnose genital herpes by visual inspection if the outbreak is typical. Providers can also take a sample from the sore(s) and test it. Sometimes, HSV infections can be diagnosed between outbreaks with a blood test. A person should discuss such testing options with their health care provider.

Is there a cure or treatment for herpes? There is no treatment that can cure herpes. Antiviral medications can, however, prevent or shorten outbreaks during the period of time the person takes the medication.  In addition, daily suppressive therapy (i.e., daily use of antiviral medication) for herpes can reduce the likelihood of transmission to partners.

How can herpes be prevented? The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected. Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of genital herpes, because herpes symptoms can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom. Sex partners of infected persons should be advised that they may become infected and they should use condoms to reduce the risk. Sex partners can seek testing to determine if they are infected with HSV.