Genital Herpes Infections and Treatment

Genital Herpes is a very commonly occurring Sexually Transmitted Infections. It is highly contagious and spreads through sexual activities.

This infection is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1) and the Herpes Simplex Virus-2 (HSV-2). This virus is also largely responsible for causing cold sores. This is why the treatment plans for this infection are comprised of medicines also used to treat cold sores.

Genital Herpes – The Signs and Symptoms

If you suspect that you have contacted the Herpes Simplex virus but are not sure, read through the following symptoms to find out for sure.

The virus has a very unpredictable nature and sometimes leads to no symptoms at all. On the other hand, you may notice symptoms after a few days into the onset of the infection. You may even end up experiencing all symptoms months or even years after getting the infection. So, the expression of the symptoms of Herpes is very unreliable.

However, once the symptoms have appeared, they are very severe in nature. You may start noticing the appearance of small blisters which eventually end up producing raw and painful sores. Over the course of the next few weeks, these sores end up with scabs and start healing on their own. You may even experience the symptoms of flu as soon as the blisters have appeared on your skin. Running a fever and having swollen lymph nodes is quite common along with the other symptoms.

What Are The Diagnostic Tools Used To Detect HSV-1 And HSV-2?

Your doctor will ask you a list of questions that will serve as the first step of the diagnosis. They will inquire about the occurrence of cold sores and rashes anywhere in the pelvic area. You will also be asked about your sexual activities and whether you have ever indulged in the sexual act with a known case of Herpes.

Following the first visit, your doctor will conduct some tests that will help determine the presence or the absence of the disease inside your body.

  • PCR Blood Test: This blood test is the definitive test for determining HSV even in the absence of any symptoms. This test detects fragments of the virus’s DNA inside your blood. This is a very accurate test.
  • Cell Culture: During your physical examination, your doctor will take some samples of the epithelial cells of the sores. These will be used to look for the virus under the scrutiny of the microscope.
  • Antibody Tests: Direct fluorescent antibody testing is used to detect the presence of the virus in the given sample. The antibodies stick to the dye in the chemical and start glowing. When placed under a microscope, these are easily identifiable. This test is highly accurate in establishing the difference between the two types of the virus. Unfortunately it does not indicate whether the cause of the infection is anal, oral or vaginal sex.
  • New tests are being formulated that use saliva and urine samples to detect the virus.

It is important to note, however, that PCR and blood culture tests will give you a false positive result if the sores have begun to heal or if the infection is newly acquired. This is so because HSV antibodies produced by your system will take several weeks to show in your blood stream. In case of any doubts, your doctor will get you tested again.

Treatment Plans

Initial Treatment: This includes 7-10 days of antiviral therapy such as aciclovir if you have just gotten cold sores.

Intermittent Treatment: Your doctor will prescribe an additional antiviral therapy to contain the disease as well as prevent its recurrence.

Suppressive Treatment: If you are having recurrent outbreaks of cold sores, your doctor will prescribe an antiviral drug on a daily basis.