The number of sexually active teens infected with genital herpes continues to grow each year, according to herpes statistics reports. It is important for teens to know what to look for with genital herpes, who is at risk and what are the best methods of prevention.
What is genital herpes?
- Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a virus, the herpes simplex.
- There are two different types of the herpes virus. One is the HSV-1 and the other is HSV-2.
- Most types of genital herpes infection are easily transferred by through the HSV-2 virus with genital to genital contact affecting only the genital and anal regions.
- HSV-1 mostly causes cold sores and fever blisters on or around the mouth.
- However, HSV-1 can still be spread to the genitals during oral sex through secretions in a person’s saliva despite the fact that HSV-2 is mostly the cause behind infection around the genitals.
- Genital herpes never completely goes away. Instead when a person is not showing symptoms, the virus is actually hiding away in the infected person’s body in between outbreaks.
- Sometimes a person can be infected with genital herpes and never show any signs or symptoms. However, it can still be passed to other sexual partners even when there is no outbreak of symptoms.
- If a person does demonstrate outward symptoms, they will typically see about four to five outbreaks each year.
Genital Herpes Statistics
- Center for Disease Control herpes statistics reveal that one in every five teens and adults have genital herpes.
- More women than men are likely to get the infection with about one in four infected compared to men with one in five.
- About two-thirds of the number of people infected are under age 25.
- At least 80 percent of the infected persons with genital herpes are unaware that they have it.
- Up to one million new HSV-2 infections are contracted each year in the United States.
- The overall number of infected persons with genital herpes has increased 30 percent since the 1970s.
How is genital herpes transferred?
- Genital to genital contact or mouth to genital contact can spread the infection. This can occur either through a cold sore on the mouth or sores on or around a person’s genitals. However, it is a good idea for teens to keep in mind that even if a person is in between outbreaks and is not exhibiting symptoms, the infection can still be passed to their partner(s).
- You cannot catch genital herpes from an object like a toilet seat, despite many misconceptions. The herpes virus can’t live outside the body for that long.
Herpes Signs & Symptoms:
- Symptoms usually begin within the first two to three weeks after catching the infection.
- Herpes symptoms typically begin with itching or pain around the genital area followed by sores.
- These sores may appear on the vagina, penis, scrotum or anal region or buttocks.
- The sores start out as as red bumps that later turn into red, watery blisters that may open up, contain puss and blood.
- Other symptoms include fever-like symptoms including headache, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes.
- There are still treatment options available although there is no way to completely cure herpes. It can still be treated with medication to lessen the symptoms. Outbreaks may exhibit many of the same symptoms as when the person was first infected including sores and fever, but they will most likely be less severe and will not last as long.
- Antiviral medication may be prescribed to help control the genital herpes symptoms during outbreaks.
- A doctor or physician can explain the best ways to keep the sores clean and dry to help diminish pain and infection.
- Daily suppressive therapy medication is also available to help reduce the chance of transferring genital herpes to other sexual partners.
- Because an infected person may not showcase symptoms very often or even at all, those infected can go through long periods of time without having an outbreak. Teens who are having sex outside of a monogamous relationship with an uninfected person, need to keep in mind that just because there are no visible symptoms, it does not mean their partner is free and clear from infection.
- The only way a person can ever 100 percent avoid getting genital herpes or any other type of sexually transmitted disease is to completely abstain from sexual acts containing genital to genital or mouth to genital contact.
- Using a latex condom may reduce the risk of contracting genital herpes, however, it does not protect the areas it does not cover like the mouth or around the genital or anus.