HSV or Herpes Simplex Virus is a viral infection. There are two types of this virus; HSV 1 (Herpes Simplex 1) and HSV 2 (Herpes Simplex 2). The second type of Herpes is usually referred to as genital herpes. Both viruses can affect the genital or the oral skin but HSV 1 is associated with causing cold sores around the mouth region. HSV 2, on the other hand is associated with causing sores in the genitalia region.
The symptoms of herpes are not always visible. However, in some cases, oral herpes shows up as painful sores inside and around the mouth. Genital herpes usually does not show any symptoms in the initial stages until after some time. Before then, there are usually no symptoms. When the symptoms show up, they could include itching and burning sensations around the genitals, presence of blisters and pain during urination. The symptoms and sores of herpes are usually referred to as outbreaks. However, one can have the herpes virus for very many years without experiencing any symptom after being infected for the first time. Without visible symptoms, the best way of knowing whether you have the herpes virus or not is by getting tested.
How do you get herpes?
You can get the herpes virus through several ways. The virus can be transferred via skin to skin contact, anal, vaginal or oral sex. The virus spreads quite easily where there is an active open sore. You can get the virus even if there is no breakout. One can get herpes from his or her partner even if the sexual partner does not show any symptoms or does not have any open sores.
So how can you prevent yourself from getting the virus? The only surest way of ensuring that you do not get the virus and other STDs is by abstaining from sex completely. However, if you are active sexually, the use of latex condoms during sexual encounters reduces the risk of virus transmission. Research has also shown that when a person that has the herpes virus takes a daily antiviral medication, the risk of transmitting the virus to his or her partner reduces by about 50%.
One should go for a blood test in order to determine if he has the virus or not. A type specific blood test will be able to differentiate between the two types of herpes virus. The test carried out will check for antibodies that the body develops in the blood in order to fight the infection. The window period of the herpes virus may range from two weeks to six months. During the early stages, it might be difficult to carry out the tests as the antibodies might not be at detectable levels. However, this varies from individual to individual. As a result of this large window period, one can get a false negative result after the test. There is also a slight chance of getting a false positive result.
As a result of this, it is estimated that millions of people have the virus but do not know it. It is therefore greatly advised that anytime one engages in a sexual intercourse, he or she uses protection. Pregnant mothers are at risk of transmitting the virus to the newborn if they get infected during the pregnancy.