In the Know

Herpes

What is herpes?

Oral and genital herpes are viral infections transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and direct contact with a sore. Even when using a condom, herpes can be contracted through skin-to skin contact with infected areas not covered by the condom. Herpes is very common among teens. If you touch the fluid from a sore, you can infect any other body part you touch with herpes.

What are the symptoms?

Most people do not have symptoms for both genital and oral herpes. For genital herpes, symptoms include sores on the vagina, penis, anus, buttocks, cervix, and mouth, with burning or itching. Herpes sores bleed easily and can increase your risk for HIV infection if you have sex with an HIV positive person. For oral herpes, symptoms include blisters or cold sores around the lips or mouth.

How do I get tested?

Test on material from a genital sore, blood test.

How do I get treated?

No cure. Symptoms can be managed with medications.

What if I don’t treat it?

The virus hides in nerve endings and infection may come back from time to time. It may be passed to an unborn baby during pregnancy and birth.

How can I prevent it?

Know if your partner is infected before having sex. Abstinence is the only way to prevent it 100%. Latex, polyurethane, or polyisoprene condoms can protect you only if they cover the sore, but sores can appear anywhere is the body not covered by a condom. Avoid having sex during an outbreak.

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