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Sexually transmitted diseases have long been a public concern recognized by countries all over the world since the beginning of recorded history. Among the fifty recognized sexually transmitted diseases, genital herpes infection is gradually catching the attention of health organizations. So what is Genital Herpes? Let’s investigate.

Primarily, Genital Herpes Infection is caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 or the HSV Type 2. However, this infection can also be initiated by other herpes infections, such as the HSV Type 1 Infection, mainly causing oral ulcerations or lesions and other non-genital manifestations.

The infection is favorably transmitted through direct contact with the genital secretions or fluids infected with herpes simplex virus during sexual activity. Moreover, the transmission of the infection can be possibly initiated by contact with objects which have harbored the microorganisms of an infected individual. These objects are known as fomites which may include the infected person’s towels, undergarments, clothes, bedsheets and linens, etc.

One of the many identified factors to genital herpes infection is the lack of awareness or knowledge on the causes, transmission, disease manifestation and prevention of infection by the majority of the worldwide population. As for its prevalence in the adolescents, young adults and older adults who get infected with genital herpes virus, frequent unprotected sexual intercourse, multiple sexual partners which can be between the opposite sex or same sex partners and risky sexual practices which may include vaginal-penile, oral, and anal contact highly sets off the infection.

An individual with genital herpes infection may not show or exhibit symptoms of the infection. However, two to three days following contact with an infected person may produce symptoms of a burning sensation at the area where infection was introduced. Itching and pain may be felt in the area of infection. Then, small vesicles with erythematous border form painful and shallow ulcers. And, in about two to four weeks, the ulcers turn into crusts, heals and then leaves a scar. In women, the primary site of infection occurs in the labia, which may include the vagina, cervix, and perianal skin. In men, the infection may be in the glans penis, foreskin, and the penile shaft. The infection may spread outside the genital area, such as the buttocks and upper thighs, and may even affect the eyes.

Most importantly genital herpes infection is a chronic condition without a cure and may lie dormant until the infected individual gets infected again. Recurrent infection may be triggered by stress, infection, trauma, or risky sexual behaviors and may produce similar disease manifestations which usually last for seven to ten days. The medical management would usually include the administration of oral antivirals for seven to ten days; whereas, frequent recurrent infections are usually treated with daily oral suppressive therapy which is reevaluated by the prescribing physician every year. Hope this answers our question, What is Genital Herpes?


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