People don’t talk about genital problems. Bring up the topic in conversation and, at best, you’re likely to get some embarrassed giggles and bad jokes. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are taboo topics: a subject fit for vulgar comedians, but certainly not dinner-party conversation.Difficult to discuss an STD socially. While an unwillingness and uneasiness about discussing STDs is understandable, the resulting silence does little to educate people. Genital herpes is one of the most common types of STD, and yet an estimated ninety percent of people infected with the disease aren’t aware they’re carrying the virus.
Herpes Simplex 2: Getting the Facts. Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex 2 (HSV 2) virus. This virus is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, and easily transmitted during sex. It causes blisters and sores on the genitals, around the anus and often down the buttocks and thighs. The virus goes through a cycle of dormancy and activity, often several times a year, and is spread whenever the virus is active.
There is no cure for HSV 2: once infected, it remains in the body. In the United States, approximately 25 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 40 are infected with HSV 2. That translates to one out of every five adults. HSV 2 is closely related to HSV 1, the virus that causes cold sores. While HSV 1 is not commonly considered an STD, it is responsible for five to ten percent of genital herpes cases, most often as a result of oral-genital contact.
Worldwide, it is believed as many as 86 million people are infected with genital herpes. If US statistics hold true worldwide, most of these cases are undiagnosed.
All in the Family. HSV 2 is a member of a family of viruses called, not surprisingly, the herpes viruses. They are characterized by the ability to lie dormant in the nervous system. Other members of this family include the Epstein-Barr virus (responsible for mono), and the varicella virus, otherwise known as chickenpox. Varicella can also cause shingles.
A lack of awareness about HSV 2 increases the chances of contracting the disease, or even of identifying an existing infection. This web site holds the key to better understanding of the disease: how to recognize it and how to prevent it. Practical advice is given for dealing with an outbreak, and the potential complications of the disease are discussed