What is herpes?
How does someone get herpes?
How is HSV diagnosed?
Where can I get tested?
Is there a cure?
How can I prevent transmitting herpes?
What are the risks from herpes during pregnancy?
Is it normal to have strong emotional reactions to being diagnosed with herpes?
What can I do?
Is there any connection between herpes and HIV?
Where can I get more info on herpes?
Herpes is a virus that lives in the nervous system and shows up periodically on the skin. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) usually occurs in or around the mouth and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) usually occurs in the genital area, though HSV-1 can be found in the genital area as well.
Herpes is transmitted through intimate sexual contact where the skin is soft and susceptible. The skin of the mouth and genitals is especially susceptible to herpes. Herpes can be transmitted even when there are no genital lesions present.Publications on viral shedding
There are three common ways HSV infections can be diagnosed. One way is by a visual examination conducted by a health care provider. This diagnosis should always be confirmed by a lab test. The "gold standard" to diagnose herpes is through a herpes culture, but the result can be negative even though someone has HSV. A positive culture should identify whether the infection is HSV-1 or HSV-2. Finally, blood tests can detect antibodies to HSV. The antibodies may not develop until two months after someone has become infected. The Western Blot, the most accurate of these blood tests, is done at the University of Washington.Publications on detection and testing
You can have your blood tested with a Western Blot at the University of Washington Virology Lab. To do this, have your health care provider call #206-598-6066 to request the HSV Type-Specific Serology information packet. Other accurate tests for HSV-2 may also be available through your local healthcare provider.
No. At this point there is not a cure but there is treatment available. There are prescription drugs available Ė Acyclovir (Zovirax), Valacyclovir (Valtrex) and Famciclovir (Famvir). These can be used during each episode or on a daily basis to prevent recurrences. These medications are particularly effective during the initial outbreak. Acyclovir ointment is ineffective and we do not recommend it.
The safer sex rule for preventing herpes transmission is: use latex barriers at all times and abstain from sexual activity when lesions are present. Most importantly, be sure to tell your partner that you have herpes before having sex. It may also be helpful for both of you to get tested. It is not safe to assume that you or your partner do not have herpes, because a person can have it without knowing it. No safer sex method is 100% effective, but these precautions can reduce your chances of passing HSV to your partner.
In very rare cases, women with genital herpes can transmit the virus to the baby if the mother has HSV in the birth canal during delivery. Herpes in the newborn is a very serious illness. However, some 20-25% of pregnant women have genital herpes and a majority of women with genital herpes give birth to healthy, happy babies. Women who acquire HSV for the first time towards the end of pregnancy have the highest risk of transmission of HSV to the baby.Publications on HSV and pregnancy
Absolutely. Many people experience depression, anger, and sadness or want to withdraw from relationships. Itís important to talk to your health care provider about these feelings.
Stay healthy. Eat well, get enough rest, exercise, make time to enjoy yourself. Talk to your health care provider and partners about herpes. You can also participate in research to help increase the knowledge we have about herpes.
Yes. Genital ulcers, such as those caused by herpes, may make it easier to acquire and transmit HIV.Publications on HIV/HSV
We have a book available for $20 called Managing Herpes we highly recommend. Itís the most comprehensive and up to date book on herpes that is available. You can order this book by calling the National Herpes Hotline at (919)361-8488.
The frequency of herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) has increased by 32% since the late 1970's.
22% of people over the age of 12 have HSV-2 infections ( the common cause of genital herpes).
Approximately 70% of Americans have HSV-1 (the common cause for cold sores or fever blisters).
HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes; it is often transmitted by oral to genital contact.
Up to 90% of people infected with HSV-2 are unaware they have genital herpes.
Genital herpes can be spread when no sores are present.
There are several medications available to treat genital HSV infections.
You can help us learn more about HSV infections by participating in our studies.