Herpes simplex virus, also known as HSV infections, are very common infections found all over the world. HSV type 1 herpes infections are found mainly around the mouth and lips, for example cold sores and fever blisters. Although HSV type 1 can cause genital herpes, this form of infection is predominantly caused by HSV type 2.
Once you become infected, the virus will stay dormant in your nerves and will occasionally reactivate, triggering the typical herpes virus symptoms: fluid filled, painful blisters that usually resolve within one to two weeks. It is estimated that as many as 90% of north-American adults have had exposure to herpes virus type 1 (oral herpes) and 20% – 30% to herpes type 2 (genital herpes).
Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease
Herpes virus type 1 is spread through saliva, thus kissing or sharing grooming tools such as razors or toothbrushes, or receiving oral sex from someone infected will expose you to this infection. Until recently, it was believed that HSV type 1 is not a sexually transmitted disease. However, based on current research, it is now recognized that both HSV type 1 and 2 infections can be labeled as sexually transmitted infections. HSV type 1 is now, in fact, causing almost 50% of all new cases of genital herpes, which previously was mainly linked with HSV-type 2.
Herpes virus will enter your body though broken skin, the mouth or genital area. The fluid from blisters can infect you. This virus is also found in saliva, semen and vaginal fluids. In conclusion, both types of herpes virus can cause oral and genital infections and are contagious even if the individual does not have active lesions (blisters). A pregnant woman can also infect her baby during vaginal birth, and the risk is increased if she has blisters during delivery.
All individuals who are sexually active can contact genital herpes, and the risk is obviously increased if you have multiple sexual partners. Women have higher chances than men to be infected after sex without condoms. Statistics show that one in four women have genital herpes, where only one in eight men do.
How to prevent sexually transmitted herpes infection
Use latex condoms correctly and on a regular basis, because you will lower (not completely eliminate) your chances of contracting the herpes virus, since blisters occur predominantly in both male and female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom.
The only way to 100% prevent herpes infections is sexual abstinence. You can also decrease considerably the chances to get infected if you are consistently in a monogamous relationship and your partner has been tested and has shown no signs of infection. If you have already developed herpes infection, you should not have sex when you have blisters, but rather wait until the skin is healed.