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Herpes Simplex Infections

Cold Sores

Herpes Simplex 1 virus causes cold sores which are blisters on the lips. This is non sexually transmitted disease which can occur by kissing. It can also occur with non direct contact such as sharing utensils and towels. Herpes simplex 1 is a childhood condition and chances of getting the virus increases with age.  In United States 44% of young adults have HSV 1 virus and prevalence increases to 90% after age of 70. Once a person gets the virus it resides in the nerve cell in a dormant state. Some people get symptoms with episodes of cold sores and others can have no symptoms. People without symptoms do shed virus and ones with cold sores shed a lot more virus. Diagnosis of cold sores is made with physical exam. Culture swab of the blister or blood test can also be done to confirm diagnosis. Treatment of cold sores involves antiviral medication and ointments. There is no cure available.

Genital Herpes
Herpes Simplex 2 virus causes genital herpes which causes blisters around the genital areas. This is a sexually transmitted disease which occurs with direct contact. In United States about 20% of adults have HSV 2. Prevalence is higher in women as compared to men. A lot of people with herpes simplex 2 virus have no symptoms. Patients with symptoms of genital herpes have multiple breakouts of blisters during a year with initial breakout being the worse. Symptoms do get better with time. The risk of transmission is highest in people who are unaware that they have herpes. Condoms only protect partially against herpes simplex 2 virus since infection can occur by direct skin contact of region around the genital area.  Diagnosis of genital herpes is made with physical exam and culture swab of the blister.  Blood test is also done to for diagnosis. Treatment of the genital involves antiviral medication and ointments. There is no cure available.  Condoms, antiviral medication and abstinence during breakouts can decrease chances of transmission between sexual partners.
Cold Sore virus (herpes simplex 1) can cause genital herpes with oral sex. Herpes simplex 2 virus can also lead to cold sores with oral sex.
There is a social stigma associated with the disease which can be worse than the actual disease for many patients.

Age-Specific Prevalence of Infection with Herpes Simplex Virus Types 2 and 1: A Global Review.
Jennifer S. Smith1 and N. Jamie Robinson2





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10 Chester Ave, White Plains, NY 10601
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