What Happens When Someone Is Infected with Genital Herpes?
Most people infected with HSV-2 are not aware of their
infection. However, if symptoms occur during the primary episode, they can be
quite pronounced. The primary episode usually occurs within two weeks after the
virus is transmitted, and lesions typically heal within two to four weeks.
Other symptoms during the primary episode may include a second crop of lesions,
or flu-like symptoms, including fever and swollen glands. However, some
individuals with HSV-2 infection may never have lesions, or may have very mild
symptoms that they don't even notice or that they mistake for insect bites or a
Most people diagnosed with a primary episode of genital
herpes can expect to have several symptomatic recurrences a year (average four
or five); these recurrences usually are most noticeable within the first year
following the first episode.
How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed?
The signs and symptoms associated with HSV-2 can vary greatly among
individuals. Health care providers can diagnose genital herpes by visual
inspection, by taking a sample from the sore(s) and by testing it to see if the
herpes virus is present.
Is There a Cure for Herpes?
There is no treatment that can cure herpes, but antiviral
medications can shorten and prevent outbreaks for whatever period of time the
person takes the medication.
How Can People Protect Themselves Against Infection?
The consistent and correct use of latex condoms is the best
protection. However, condoms do not provide complete protection, because a
herpes lesion may not be covered by the condom and viral shedding may occur. If
you or your partner has genital herpes, it is best to abstain from sex when
symptoms are present, and to use latex condoms between outbreaks.
Where Can I Get More Information?
National STD Hotline
National Herpes Hotline
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