HSV (herpes simplex virus) is a common sexually transmitted virus found globally. Once the virus is acquired it never leaves the body but becomes dormant, hiding inside your nerves’ cell bodies. The herpes virus that is associated with the genital region is known as type 2 or HSV-2. Type one or HSV-1 is the causative factor for facial infections such as cold sores and fever blisters. When a type 1 infection gets to the lips it is known as simplex labialis. Type one infections can pass to one another via kissing, sharing food utensils or sharing drinking cups and glasses. Type one also may cause genital lesions but it is usually type 2 that’s at fault. Type two is transmitted via sexual contact. Check here for pictures of herpes type one and here for pictures of herpes type two. Be warned: the photos are graphic.


Infection categories


An outbreak of infection can be described as primary. It is a primary infection when the person contracting the infection would have tested negative for both type HSV-1 and HSV-2 before the episode of genital lesions. HSV-1 is not likely indicated as being primary or non-primary due to 90% of Americans adults having had a cold sore or fever blister at sometime in their life. Click here for herpes symptoms.

The infection is non-primary if someone with HSV-1 contracts HSV-2 as well. The non-primary infection is not as intense as a primary infection due to existing defenses to HSV.

HSV can hide itself away becoming dormant. Suddenly, a reactivation of it can occur causing an outbreak once again. The risk of genital reactivation is lesser in those with HSV-1 versus HSV2. Without antiviral therapy, one can expect reactivation about four times in a year after their first HSV-2 infection. 40% of patients experience at least six reactivations and 20% will have greater than ten reactivation in their first year. In comparison, HSV-1 will recur about once per year. With time, reactivation of either type one or two generally will decrease in number of times and severity; however, there is significant difference in the clinical course from infected to infected. See here for the treatment options



Genital herpes are more common than you may think

A study representing the nation  has shown that genital herpes is quite common. In the nation, 16.2%, or about one out of six people aged 14 to 49 years of age have a genital HSV-2 infection. That means for every six friends you have one of them likely has HSV-2. That is quite common. In the past decade, the rate at which Americans have genital herpes has remained stable.

Interestingly, HSV-2 or genital herpes in more common in women than in men. One out of every five women aged 14 t0 49 is infected. Women are more suspectible to infection. Transmission of the virus from a male to his female partner is much more likely than the other way around.


Does anything trigger outbreaks?

Despite beliefs, studies have not shown a relationship between outbreaks and diet or stress; however, these could still be triggers for you. More well known triggers include skin or genital mucosa trauma. More researcher about possible triggers is needed since we don’t know much about triggering events.


Those infected should be extra cautious

In general those with STDs are more likely to contract HIV. Herpes may be a causative player in the spreading of HIV. Not only does herpes make people more likely to get HIV, it makes those with HIV more infectious individuals. In other words, herpes amplifies the infectious ability of HIV positive people.


Related links:

1. Things you can do to protect yourself against herpes.

(Back to what is an STD from herpes)