Table of Contents
What is genital herpes?
Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex virus, or HSV. Genital herpes infections are very common and on the increase in the United States, and in the rest of the world as well. Nationwide, 45 million people aged 12 and older have been diagnosed with HSV-2 infection. It is more common in women than in men, possibly because male to female transmission is more efficient than female to male. Moreover, HSV-2 infection is also more common in areas of high socio-economic disadvantage, facing fundamental issues of health. The most important of these issues are access to quality health care, poverty, living in communities with a high prevalence of STDs, or illicit drug use.
What are the effects of HSV-type 1 and HSV-type 2?
Herpes simplex virus type 1 causes fever blisters on the mouth or face, which is known as oral herpes. Herpes simplex type 2 typically affects the genital area, and is refered to as genital herpes. Both viral types can be inactive or silent, causing no symptoms at all. Both of these types are able to cause either genital or oral infections, outbreaks of blisters and ulcers. The problem is, people can remain infected for life after the first initial episode. Herpes is spread by direct contact including sexual contact, anal sex, oral sex, vaginal sex, as well as kissing and skin-to-skin contact. Genital herpes can be transmitted with or without the presence of sores or other symptoms.
Herpes is often easy to transmit by people unaware that they are infected. Genital herpes infection has increased by 30% in the U.S., most dramatically among young white teens 12-19 years old.