Genital Herpes

Herpes_Simplex

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection which is caused by Herpes Simplex virus

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection which is caused by a virus. The virus which causes genital herpes is known as Herpes Simplex virus. It is the same type of virus which causes cold sores which commonly occur on the lip. It is acquired from being in intimate sexual contact with an individual who is infected with the herpes virus.

Studies have shown that herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. The virus can be spread even when the infected individual does not have any symptoms. Statistically, about 16% of Americans in the sexual reproductive age group have been infected with the herpes virus. Some studies say up to 22% of young Americans are infected with the virus and most people do not even know it. Even though the herpes virus is very common it is usually not openly discussed and many people are still ashamed to seek help for their symptoms.

The Herpes Simplex virus is divided into the herpes simplex virus 1 and the herpes simplex virus 2. These two groups are very similar to each other and differ mostly in their site of preference. Herpes 1 is more known to cause lesions on the mouth like cold sores, and herpes 2 causes genital and anal lesions. Herpes 1 and 2 both gain access to the body via mucosal surfaces like the mouth and genital or anal regions. After infecting these mucosal surfaces they penetrate the nervous system where they can remain dormant, not causing any symptoms, for years.

Although Herpes simplex 1 and Herpes simplex 2 have their preferences as to which part of the body they infect, it is still possible to get genital herpes from Herpes simplex type 1 or oral infection from Herpes Simplex type 2. That is why it is possible to get genital herpes from having oral sex with someone with active cold sores. It is rare, but also possible to develop cold sores from having oral sex with someone with genital herpes.

Genital herpes is often not considered as a serious infection because it rarely leads to complications and hardly ever causes death. It is still a virus which can cause lots of morbidity with painful, irritating and embarrassing symptoms.