Herpes is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S. with 45 million people carrying the virus. Herpes is highly contagious and cannot be completely cured, but with health education and medical treatment, the person can reduce or prevent the outbreak and transmit it to a sexual associate.
1. What are the causes of genital herpes?
The cause of genital herpes is herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two strains of the virus:
- HSV-2 is the most common cause of genital herpes.
- HSV-1 causes cold sores or fever blisters that many people suffer from on the lips, which can also cause genital herpes.
The virus can spread through both vaginal or intercourse and oral sex. This virus spreads easily by exposure to herpes sores. However, the virus can also spread from an infected person without any signs or symptoms of infection.
2. When to take a diagnostic test for Herpes virus infection?
Testing to detect if a person is infected with the herpes virus can be in place in cases such as:
- The doctor needs to find out if the ulcer on the mouth or genitals is caused by the herpes virus.
- Diagnosis of herpes virus infection in pregnant women.
- Find out if a newborn is infected with the herpes virus from the mother.
3. Why do patients need to check for herpes virus?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend herpes viral testing for people who do not have symptoms of genital herpes. But patients may need to get tested for herpes virus if:
- The person has symptoms of herpes, such as blisters or ulcers on the genitals or other parts of the body.
- The patient's sexuality is infected with the herpes virus.
- The person is pregnant and the sick person or the patient's sexual orientation has been infected with herpes before or has symptoms of genital herpes. If you test positive for the herpes virus, babies may also need to be tested.
HSV-2 may increase the risk of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Patients may need another test if there are risk factors for STDs. Patients may be at higher risk if:
- There are many sexual friends.
- Men have same-sex sex.
- Have a sexual friend with HIV and/or other STDs.
In rare cases, the herpes virus can cause encephalitis or meningitis, a life-threatening infection. Therefore, patients may need to be tested for herpes virus if there are symptoms of brain or spinal disorders, such as:
- Hard neck
- Or confusion
- Severe headaches
- Sensitivity to light
4. Why doesn't the CDC recommend herpes virus testing for everyone?
The CDC does not recommend herpes testing for asymptoatic people. This is because the diagnosis of genital herpes in asympto symptomatic people does not show any changes in their sexual behavior (e.g., wearing a condom or not having sex) nor does it prevent the virus from spreading. In addition, false positive test results (test results show that the person is infected with herpes but in fact the person is not infected) is possible. Even if the person is asympto symptomatic, the person should still talk openly and honestly about his or her history of sex with the doctor to find out if the person should be tested for any STDs, including herpes.
5. Genital herpes diagnostic tests
Genital herpes tests include:
- PCR test: A PCR test can tell if the person has genital herpes even if the person is asymptoatic. The PCR test looked for fragments of viral DNA in specimens taken from cells or fluids from ulcers in the genitals or urinary tract. This is a test that is often used to diagnose genital herpes and is very accurate.
- Cell culture: During a medical examination, the doctor will prescribe a cell sample from the ulcer and find the herpes simplex virus (HSV) under a microscope.
Cell cultures or PCR tests can give false negative results if the ulcer has started to heal or if the new person is infected. A false negative test shows that the person is not infected with the Herpes virus however in fact the person is infected. There are also false positive test results, which means a positive result, however in reality the person is not infected with the Herpes virus.
- Other tests
Blood tests can detect antibodies of the Herpes virus, which are proteins produced by the immune system in response to infection. With direct immunofluorescence testing, a solution containing HSV antibodies and fluorescent dyes is added to a specimen suspected of herpes virus infection. If the virus is in the specimen, the antibodies stick to it and glow when viewed under a specialized microscope. The test cannot tell when the person is infected with the virus and it can take several weeks to form antibodies.
Antibody tests may tell the difference between the two Herpes viruses. It is important to know which type of herpes virus the person is infected with. If infected with type 2 (HSV-2), the person may develop the disease more frequently than type 1 (HSV-1) and also cause lip sores to appear on the lips and around the mouth.
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Nơi sinh sống
Hồ Chí Minh
Ho Chi Minh City
- Herpes (herpes) on the lips: Things to know
- What types of genital infections are included?
- Causes of genital ulcerative inflammation