Herpes Simplex is an infectious disease caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) and is mainly spread through oral-to-oral or sexual transmission. An estimated two-thirds of the world population under 50 years old are infected with this lifelong disease.
The cause of Herpes Simplex is due to the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), which can be categorized into two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2
HSV-1 is mainly spread by oral-to-oral contact or through contact with an infected spit or saliva, causing oral herpes (including small, painful blisters in the mouth), but it can also lead to genital herpes.
HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted infection spread through contact of genital organs during sex. This causes genital herpes and manifests as blisters on the genitalia or the anus.
Oral Herpes infections mostly do not show symptoms while symptoms that do occur include blisters in and around the mouth.
Genital Herpes infections can either be asymptomatic or can manifest symptoms as blisters and ulcers on the genitalia or the anus.
Symptoms usually last for a week, but it can last up to 10 days.
People experiencing symptoms or are suspected of having genital herpes should undergo laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis of having the Herpes Simplex Virus.
Currently, antiviral medications such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir are the most effective treatment for people infected with HSV. These medications can help reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms but cannot cure the infection.
Transmission of Herpes Simplex virus can be prevented by avoiding oral contact with others when symptoms of oral Herpes are manifested. Abstaining from sexual activity when symptoms of genital Herpes are manifested can also prevent the transmission of Herpes Simplex. Using condoms consistently and correctly can also prevent transmission of the disease as well as other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but transmission may still occur through contact of areas not covered by the condom.
Cleveland Clinic. (2022). Herpes Simplex. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22855-herpes-simplex
WebMD. (2022). Herpes Simplex Virus: HSV-1 & HSV-2. https://www.webmd.com/genital-herpes/pain-management-herpes#1
World Health Organization. (2022). Herpes Simplex Virus. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/herpes-simplex-virus