Writer’s Name: Pathfinder
Date: June 17, 2012
More than 1.5 million Americans aged twelve and over are currently infected with herpes. The risk of getting the disease increases without the use of a condom. Quite a number of people believe they are not at risk for sexually transmitted diseases. However, STDs are the nation’s most common type of infection. The disease can lay dormant for years. Even people who have had only one sexual partner can have an STD. Many people feel that talking about sexual health can be awkward or embarrassing. However, there are good reasons to start the conversation. Some STDs can cause lasting damage or become more difficult to treat the longer you wait. Enlisting the help of your health care provider is the first step in diagnosing and treating any sexually transmitted disease--and protecting your sexual health. Unfortunately, many people do not use proper protection on a regular basis when they engage in sexual activity.
Herpes Simplex is an infection caused by the pathogen called Herpes Simplex Virus. There are two types of herpes simplex virus infections that can cause genital herpes. The first is HSV-1; the warning signs are cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth, though it can spread to your genital area during oral sex (Mayo Clinic, 2010). HSV-2 is the most commonly widespread sexually transmitted cause of genital herpes. This virus is spread through sexual contact and skin-to-skin contact. HSV-2 is extremely contagious; you can contract the disease whether you have an open sore or not. On the other hand, the infection doesn’t show any distinguished signs or symptoms for some people who are infected. Yet they can still spread the disease to their partner. According to the Mayo Clinic (2010), “the virus dies quickly outside of the body and it’s nearly impossible to get the infection through contact with toilets, towels, or other objects used by an infected person.”
There are usually early warning signs before a breakout happens, such as tingling, burning, and itching where sores were before. HSV-2 is a pesky disease that involves blisters, bumps, cold sores, and even irritation to extremely embarrassing places on your body. Even though herpes is not a deadly disease, it is still very annoying and may become a great inconvenience if the person infected is sexually active. Herpes may have no symptoms for years; sometimes it is very difficult to know who passed it to whom. The symptoms vary and it affects each person differently. The first symptoms of herpes usually occur two weeks after the virus is transmitted.
Since herpes is an incurable virus, infected individuals will endure the annoying and contagious virus for the rest of their lives with recurring “outbreaks.” The virus is incurable because during the latent phase of the disease, the virus hides itself and becomes invisible to the immune system. The immune system was designed to fight off unfamiliar pathogens; but cannot do its job if a pathogen has hidden itself. The only time the immune system fights off the herpes virus is when an outbreak occurs. At this time, the virus infects the epithelial cells causing blisters or sores on the person’s body and no longer hides itself from the immune system. The immune system then recognizes that there is an unfamiliar pathogen present and fights it. Nevertheless, at the outset of the first breakout, the virus by then has already become incurable. This occurs because the virus was “transported along axons to the neuron itself.”
Let’s take a look at how herpes affects pregnancy. The biggest concern with genital herpes during pregnancy is that it can be transmitted during labor and delivery. If the mother is contagious, or “shedding virus” during birth, then the likelihood of her infecting her child is highly possible. Newborn herpes is relatively rare (about 1,500 newborns are affected each year), but the disease can be devastating. So it is important to learn how to reduce your baby's risk of becoming infected. Another thing to keep in mind is that the risk of transmission is high if you get herpes for the first time (a primary infection) late in your pregnancy.
According to ASHA, 2010, illness, poor diet, emotional or physical stress, friction in the genital area, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, surgical trauma, and steroidal medication may trigger a herpes outbreak. Physical and emotional stress can also trigger an outbreak of genital herpes in some people. Stress can compromise one’s immune system. Getting adequate rest, exercising regularly, and eating well are all great ways to reduce stress and strengthen one’s
immune system. The frequency of outbreaks can be managed through efficient stress management and getting adequate rest, nutrition, and exercise. For people with frequent outbreaks, therapy can be beneficial and helpful if one uses their antiviral treatment as prescribed.
Millions of women are infected with genital herpes each year, and according to Looker (2008) approximately 17% of adults in the United States are infected with Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2. More than two-thirds are infected and are unaware of their infection, and the majority of infections are transmitted by these individuals.
It is possible to prevent the spreading of herpes to others. Tell Your Partner. It is also important to understand what herpes is, how it can be prevented, which precautions are best, and what are the social and emotional impacts of herpes. Try to avoid any sexual contact if you are infected (abstinence). The use of a condom can help. The first time that a person is aware of any warning signs, they should avoid sexual contact until all sores and scabs are gone.