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Genital Herpes - Medical Malpractice
Genital herpes is a viral sexually transmitted disease or STD that is caused by one of two viruses: herpes simplex virus type I or herpes simplex virus type II. Most of the cases of genital herpes are caused by the type II virus but a few are caused by type I herpes simplex. They appear near the genital area as small clusters of blisters that eventually pop and heal over a period of about two to four weeks time. You often get recurrences of the disease several months or years after the initial outbreak so that you are never really clear of the infection. Fortunately, the number of outbreaks you gets tends to decrease over time.
Genital herpes is a common infection. According to statistics, it affects about one out of six people between the ages of 14 and 49 years, which amounts to around 16 percent of people. There has not been a recent increase or decrease in the rate of the disease over the past few years. HSV-II disease is more common in women, affecting one out of five women as opposed to only one out of every nine men. It is more likely for a man to transmit the disease to a woman than it is a woman to transmit the disease to a man.
The virus is transmitted because of a release of the virus particles from the open sores the person has. They can also be transmitted between outbreaks through transmission from the intact skin. It is much easier to get the virus from a sore than it is from intact skin but it underscores the need to use condoms at all times if a person has a herpes infection, even if it is not active at the time.
Herpes type I is able to cause genital herpes but it is more common in infections surrounding the mouth and lips. They are also called "fever blisters" because they can occur when a person has a fever. HSV-I infections can be caused by oral to genital contact or oral to oral contact with an infected individual. Outbreaks of HSV-I are less common than HSV-II outbreaks.
Many people with genital herpes do not know that they have the disease. If they have an initial infection, which has an incubation period of about a week, they can also have a profound set of serious symptoms including multiple sores which are very painful. The pain can last beyond the two to four weeks it takes to heal up the infection. Unfortunately, most of the people do not have sores at all and may only have pain or no symptoms at all.
After the first outbreak, a person can expect to have around four to five outbreaks within the first year. After this, the number of infections diminishes so that you may eventually have no outbreaks whatsoever.
Genital herpes generally has no complications; however, if you have an immunocompromised state, you can have multiple infections and severe symptoms. There are many psychological effects to having herpes infections because there is no cure and one needs to talk to a potential sexual partner before having sex with them. This can be a hard and embarrassing talk. If a neonate gets a herpes infection, the condition can be fatal. Women with active herpes infections during labour and delivery must not deliver vaginally but must have a caesarean section so as to avoid giving the infection to the neonate.
The diagnosis of herpes infection involves doing a scraping of an active lesion and culturing for herpes viruses. Blood tests for antibodies against HSV-I and HSV-II can be done between infections in order to know if a person has had the infection in the past. Blood testing, however, does not always work.
There is no treatment for herpes infections. Certain antiviral medications can be taken on a daily basis to suppress the transmission of the virus to others and to decrease the number of outbreaks. If caught early enough, the same antiviral medications can be used to shorten the duration of an outbreak.
The best prevention against genital herpes is to use condoms and to avoid sex during an active outbreak. Because you can shed the virus without knowing you have the infection, you can still transmit the disease and should use a condom even then.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here