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Genital Herpes Quiz: Do You Know the Facts?

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Most people with genital herpes don’t know it.

Most people with genital herpes don’t know it.

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About 16% of people aged 14-49 in the U.S. are infected with the herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) that causes genital herpes, but as many as 81% of them had not received the diagnosis.

How many people in the U.S. are estimated to have genital herpes?

How many people in the U.S. are estimated to have genital herpes?

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Genital herpes is very common, infecting at least 45 million people aged 12 and older in the United States.

Genital herpes caused by HSV-2 is found more frequently in women than in men.

Genital herpes caused by HSV-2 is found more frequently in women than in men.

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About one in five women in the US have genital herpes caused by HSV-2, while about one in nine men are infected.  The infection is more easily transmitted from men to women than from women to men.

Genital herpes is caused by bacteria and may be cured with antibiotics.

Genital herpes is caused by bacteria and may be cured with antibiotics.

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Genital herpes is caused by a virus, so antibiotics will not help resolve the infection. There is no cure for herpes, but treatment is available to reduce and prevent outbreaks and decrease the risk of transmission to a partner.

You can get genital herpes from a toilet seat.

You can get genital herpes from a toilet seat.

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As with other sexually transmitted diseases, herpes can be spread by close contact or sexual activity. It is highly unlikely to be spread by a toilet seat or other objects.

You can get genital herpes from someone who doesn’t have visible sores.

You can get genital herpes from someone who doesn’t have visible sores.

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Genital herpes can be transmitted even if the infected partner has no symptoms or visible signs or doesn’t know he or she is infected.

Washing the genital area before and after sex can help prevent the transmission of genital herpes.

Washing the genital area before and after sex can help prevent the transmission of genital herpes.

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Washing the genital area doesn’t help prevent any sexually transmitted disease (STD), including genital herpes. The best way to prevent any STD is to abstain from sex or engage in sex only with someone you know is not infected. Condoms are not guaranteed to prevent infection, but research has shown that they provide some protection.

A pregnant woman can give herpes to her unborn baby.

A pregnant woman can give herpes to her unborn baby.

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The estimated number of pregnant women infected with HSV-2 is 880,000. Most transmission to newborns occurs during vaginal delivery. If a woman had genital herpes before getting pregnant, her baby may be infected but the chance is very low -- less than 1%. However, the risk of infecting the baby is much higher (25% to 50%) when a woman is newly infected late in pregnancy.

 

If you are pregnant and think you may be infected, tell your doctor right away. Women with genital herpes are examined carefully for any symptoms before giving birth. If sores or signs that an outbreak is coming are present at the time of delivery, the baby may be delivered by cesarean section (C-section).

A blood test can determine if someone has genital herpes.

A blood test can determine if someone has genital herpes.

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To find out if you have genital herpes, a doctor can take a sample from a sore and test it in the laboratory. There is also a blood test that looks for antibodies to the virus that your immune system would have made. HSV-2 almost always infects the genitals, so if antibodies to HSV-2 are detected in your blood, you probably have genital herpes.

 

A blood test that shows antibodies to HSV-1 means you could have genital or oral herpes. That's because oral herpes, typically caused by HSV-1, can be spread to the genitals during oral sex.

New or initial genital herpes infections ...

New or initial genital herpes infections ...

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When a person is first infected with the herpes virus, if symptoms occur they usually develop within the first two weeks of virus transmission. Symptoms can include fever and flu-like symptoms, genital itching, burning and discomfort, vaginal discharge, swollen lymph nodes, and a feeling of abdominal pressure.

When do the sores associated with genital herpes typically heal after the first outbreak?

When do the sores associated with genital herpes typically heal after the first outbreak?

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The classic symptom of genital herpes is small fluid-filled blisters that break, forming painful sores that crust and heal. These may appear four to seven days after the initial virus transmission.

Genital herpes outbreaks increase in frequency over time.

Genital herpes outbreaks increase in frequency over time.

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Genital herpes typically causes several outbreaks (four or five) within a year of the first outbreak, with fewer and less severe outbreaks over time.

Which of these is NOT a commonly reported trigger of a genital herpes outbreak?

Which of these is NOT a commonly reported trigger of a genital herpes outbreak?

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Some commonly reported triggers for genital herpes outbreaks include stress, illness, surgery, fatigue, sunlight, and menstrual periods.

Herpes simplex virus type 2 settles permanently in the body closest to what region?

Herpes simplex virus type 2 settles permanently in the body closest to what region?

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Once inside the body, HSV-2 travels to the nerve roots near the spinal cord and settles there permanently.

The period of time when a person feels an outbreak coming on is called the:

The period of time when a person feels an outbreak coming on is called the:

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About half the people who have recurrent outbreaks of genital herpes feel an outbreak coming a few hours to a couple of days before it happens. They may feel tingling, burning, itching, numbness, tenderness, or pain where the blisters are going to appear. This is called the prodrome.

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