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Sexually transmitted diseases haves already earned an unacceptable impression in the society. Despite of this, Genital Herpes, as one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease gaining its popularity today, substantially grows in number and popularity among the adolescent, young adult and older adult population where it affects people from all socioeconomic classes, culture, ethnicity and age group.

So, what really happens when one becomes infected with genital herpes? When the infected individual starts to complain about manifestations typical of HSV type 2 infection, what could aid in the differential diagnosis of the condition when social stigma remains to be a major factor that determines client compliance to Genital Herpes testing and diagnostic evaluation?

This poses a challenge to the health care providers to encourage infected individuals with asymptomatic infections to seek medical care and receive accurate diagnosis and education on its treatment.

Genital herpes screening and diagnostic evaluation include the physical assessment of the infected individual. This initial approach usually aims to establish baseline information of the client’s sexual history and to visually examine the characteristics of the genital ulceration. In this case, the infection usually produces symptoms of a burning sensation at the area where infection was introduced.

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. Following physical examination, the client may undergo any of these tests: viral culture, direct immunofluorescence staining, antigen-detection testing of the exudates or infected genital secretions and fluids and Pap-smear for diagnostic confirmation of the disease.

Viral culture has 90% sensitivity during the acute phase of infection. Sample vesicular fluids including infected cells are scraped-off from the blisters or ulcers which are then brought to the laboratory for culture. Results may be available within 16 hours to 7 days. This test can also help differentiate HSV Type 1 from HSV Type 2 infection. However, this test may not be useful for infections beyond 5 days.

Likewise, antigen-detection testing of the exudates or infected genital secretions and fluids can be done through polymerase chain reaction test. This test has 95% sensitivity to HSV Type 2 infection and provides more prompt results than viral culture. Clients may also undergo HSV Type 2 direct immunofluorescence assay, which has 80-90% sensitivity to viral infection. This test also uses scrapings of lesions obtained from the base of vesicles or erupted lesions. Lastly, clients infected with genital herpes may also be requested to undergo Pap-smear test to identify the presence of multinucleated giant cells in the smear sample, a typical finding in herpes infection.

Genital Herpes testing and diagnostic evaluation tests are ideally performed to sex partners infected with genital herpes or when clients present with primary symptoms of sexually transmitted infection.


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