Beyond the pain and discomfort caused by genital herpes, those infected are at three times the risk of contracting HIV infection.
Genital herpes should not be underestimated. Ignorance of the sexually transmitted infection is an important source of dissemination. Nearly 500 million people worldwide are living with the virus, according to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO). Herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2), making it the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world. In addition, people infected with HSV-2 have a three times greater risk of contracting HIV infection if exposed to the virus.
“The primary infection is observed mainly in adolescents or young adults after sexual contact”, underlines Dr. Milpied in an article in the Parisian. Once the virus is installed in the body, it “falls asleep” there. “It then manifests itself, during outbreaks, by small blisters evolving into wounds, located on the sexual organs or nearby”, specifies Ameli.
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Transmission of the virus can also occur from the infected mother to the child, during childbirth, and lead to complications for the newborn. “Transmission to the child occurs in 85% of cases, during its passage through the maternal genital tract in the event of viral excretion, at the time of childbirth”, adds Dr. Milpied. Caesarean section is then recommended to limit the risks for the child.
Genital herpes cannot be cured
In some cases, genital herpes can go completely unnoticed when infected people do not develop symptoms. They are still likely to transmit the virus to their partner during sexual intercourse.
The diagnosis of genital herpes is based on a medical examination. Sometimes, samples from the lesions are necessary to confirm the presence of the virus. The doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs to limit the duration and intensity of flare-ups. However, this type of treatment does not completely eliminate the virus and there is always a risk of recurrence.
The herpes virus is a fragile virus, which lives only an hour or two outside its host. Contamination occurs through direct, intimate and prolonged contact. In case of symptoms, it is therefore better to abstain from having sexual relations. Apart from outbreaks of genital herpes, the use of a condom is recommended, because the virus can be present on the mucous membranes, even between recurrences. “8 to 12% of free partners are infected each year”, recalls Ameli.
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