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Methods for Prevention of Herpes

September 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Genital Herpes Tips

Herpes has various types and various herpes symptoms. For each kind of herpes, there are corresponding herpes signs and herpes symptoms. Herpes Simplex Virus infection causes several distinct medical disorders. Common herpes infection of the skin or mucosa may affect the face and mouth (orofacial herpes), genitalia (genital herpes), or hands (herpes whitlow). More serious disorders occur when the herpes virus infects and damages the eye (herpes keratitis), or invades the central nervous system, damaging the brain (herpes encephalitis). Herpes patients with immature or suppressed immune systems, such as newborns, transplant recipients, or AIDS herpes patients are prone to severe complications from herpes simplex virus infections. Herpes Simplex Virus infection has also been associated with cognitive deficits of bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease, although this is often dependent on the genetics of the infected person.

With these various herpes types and herpes symptoms, how does one diagnose herpes? Primary orofacial herpes is readily identified by clinical examination of persons with no previous history of lesions and contact with an individual with known Herpes Simplex Virus 1 infection. The appearance and distribution of sores in these individuals typically presents as multiple, round, superficial oral ulcers, accompanied by acute gingivitis. Adults with non-typical presentation are more difficult to diagnose. Prodromal herpes symptoms that occur before the appearance of herpetic lesions help differentiate herpes simplex virus symptoms from the similar herpes symptoms of other disorders, such as allergic stomatitis. When lesions do not appear inside the mouth, primary orofacial herpes is sometimes mistaken for impetigo, a bacterial herpes infection. Common mouth ulcers (aphthous ulcer) also resemble intraoral herpes, but do not present a vesicular stage.

Genital herpes can be more difficult to diagnose than oral herpes since most herpes simplex virus 2infected persons have no classical herpes symptoms. Further confusing diagnosis, several other conditions resemble genital herpes, including lichen planus, atopic dermatitis, and urethritis. Laboratory testing is often used to confirm a diagnosis of genital herpes. Laboratory tests include: culture of the herpes virus, direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) studies to detect herpes virus, skin biopsy, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to test for presence of viral DNA. Serological tests for antibodies to herpes simplex virus are rarely useful to diagnosis and not routinely used in clinical practice, but are important in epidemiological studies. Serologic assays cannot differentiate between antibodies generated in response to a genital virus or an oral Herpes simplex virus infection, and as such cannot confirm the site of herpes infection. Absence of antibody to HERPES SV-2 does not exclude genital herpes infection because of the increasing incidence of genital herpes infections caused by HERPES SV-1.

Prevention of Herpes Transmission

Although herpes is a very dangerous and complicated disease, herpes can still be prevented and treated. Below are various ways on how to prevent herpes.

Barrier protection, such as a condom, can reduce the risk of herpes transmission.

For genital herpes, condoms are highly effective in limiting transmission of herpes simplex infection. The herpes virus cannot pass through latex, but a condom’s effectiveness is somewhat limited on a public health scale by their limited use in the community, or the base of the penis or testicles not covered by the condom may come into contact with free herpes virus in vaginal fluid of an infected female. The use of condoms or dental dams also limits the transmission of herpes from the genitals of one partner to the mouth of the other (or vice versa) during oral sex.

As with almost all sexually transmitted herpes infections, women are more susceptible to acquiring genital HERPES SV-2 than men. On an annual basis, without the use of antivirals or condoms, the transmission risk of HERPES SV-2 from infected male to female is approximately 8-10%.

To prevent newborn herpes infections, seronegative women are recommended to avoid unprotected oral-genital contact with an HERPES SV-1 seropositive partner and conventional sex with a partner having a genital herpes infection during the last trimester of pregnancy.

Additional information on genital herpes prevention can be found at the cdc website.


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