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Safe Sex Information: Herpes

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Abstinance is the the best safe sex practice, but monogamy is a strong second. In these days of increasing cases of sexually transmitted diseases worldwide, it is always best to stay faithful, monogamous and to use the right protection when engaging in sex. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates more than 300 million cases of STDs around the globe today and the number does not show signs of going down. These infectious diseases do not choose their victims because adults and even teenagers who are sexually active can get them.

Genital Herpes

In the U.S., 13.5 million new cases of STDs are reported every year and around three million of these affect the teenagers. Of the most common STDs, genital herpes accounts for 200,000 to 500,000 cases. Studies have shown that the biggest increase in the number of herpes cases involve teens.

Types of herpes

Safe Sex And Genital Herpes PreventionHerpes actually refers to a double-stranded DNA virus known as herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are a total of eight viruses in the herpes family and these two are among them.

There are two types of herpes and each has different symptoms. The first type (HSV-1) is known as the oral herpes or commonly called cold sores. This type shows as fever blisters around the mouth, lips or nose. This type does not need sexual intercourse to be transmitted as it can spread by using the eating utensils, towels and razors of an infected person.

The second type (HSV-2) is the one that can be passed through sexual contact and affects the genitals. Sexual contact here refers to actual penetration, oral-genital contact and torrid petting. The genital areas that can be affected are the vagina, penis, scrotum, thighs, buttocks and anus.

Common symptoms

The most common symptoms of genital herpes are pain, sores, itching, red bumps, laceration or cuts in the vagina, penis, testicles, buttocks, anus and scrotum. The sores normally develop in the genital areas initially as red bumps that eventually turn to blisters often reddish in color and are watery. These then open up, drip or bleed, scab and clear up. Although they may disappear for some time, they actually remain the body and recur from time to time. An infected person experiences pain during urination due to the sores.

These same sores are the ones that get transmitted to another person and they are the reason as well for an infected person’s increased likelihood of contracting HIV. As for pregnant women, their babies may get infected as well during delivery. If infected, a baby can develop seizures and other disabilities including damage to the brain.

Prevention and treatment

Herpes is an incurable disease but there are antiviral oral and topical medications prescribed by doctors to control its outbreaks. In the U.S., the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is still conducting trials of a vaccine called Herpevac for herpes type 2. So far, the vaccine’s effectiveness has been proven in women unexposed to the type 1 virus and is said to be 78 percent effective in averting the symptoms of HSV-2.

The importance of prevention has always been so crucial when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases. The condom proves to be a valuable protection and many studies have confirmed this. Condoms remain one of the most effective ways of barring the spread of infectious diseases that may not only cause permanent harm to a person’s health but could even lead to death.

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