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STD 6 continued...
Herpes is a viral infection. It comes in two types.
Herpes type 1 usually causes mouth sores; herpes type 2 usually causes genital
sores. However, either virus can infect either place. Herpes can spread during
sex, including oral sex. The virus that causes herpes travels up nerves and
rests in nerve bundles. When it becomes active, it goes back down the nerves to
the skin. The genitals connect to the same nerve bundle as the buttocks.
Sometimes a person who has had a genital infection has a later outbreak on the
buttocks or thighs.
Herpes outbreaks don't always look like blisters. Sometimes they look like
sores, cuts, pimples, or a rash. Genital herpes outbreaks cause pain, aching, itching, burning, and/or tingling
on and around the sex organs. Sometimes there can be painful urination and a
discharge from the urethra, but this is uncommon.
There's no cure for herpes. But today there are anti-herpes drugs that make outbreaks less severe. They also can
prevent new outbreaks and may even make it harder to give herpes to another
I moped around for more than a month after breaking up with my
girlfriend. Just when I started feeling like seeing other women again, I
noticed this cluster of moist little sacs of flesh near my vagina. Since then
it got a bit bigger and turned whitish. It looks like a little cauliflower! I'm
very embarrassed. How can I ever have sex with anybody ever again?
The virus that causes genital warts spreads by direct skin-to-skin contact.
It's called human papillomavirus, or HPV. There are several different kinds of
HPV. Some kinds are linked to cervical cancer, although these HPV strains are less
likely to cause warts.
Genital warts appear one to six months after HPV infection. There's no cure,
but there are treatments. These treatments must be performed or prescribed by a
doctor. DO NOT use over-the-counter wart remedies on genital warts. While
treatment can make warts go away, they often come back.
It's common to be upset by genital warts. You should avoid sex until all
warts are removed. Condoms can prevent HPV spread, but since they do not cover
all of the skin that might be affected, they are not totally effective. Having
genital warts does not mean your sex life is over.
Although there is no treatment for HPV infection, most people eventually
clear the virus on their own -- usually within two years. If you have HPV
infection, it's especially important to see your doctor for regular Pap tests to look for cell changes on your cervix that
could develop into cancer.
There is an HPV vaccine for women. It will not cure HPV infection
or speed clearance of the virus. But it will protect against the strains of the
virus that most often cause cancer. The vaccine does the most good
before a person becomes sexually active. That's why it's recommended for
girls aged 11 to 12 -- and why it can be given as early as age 9.