Prevention methods, Precautions and Practical advice
Many couples have had sexual relations for years without transmitting herpes. Some simply avoid having sexual contact when signs or symptoms are present, while others use condoms or other protection between outbreaks to help protect against asymptomatic shedding.
If you take the necessary precautions, the chances of getting the virus from your partner are small. Genital herpes does not necessarily mean complete abstinence from sex or a reduced enjoyment of sex.
The risk of transmitting the virus may possibly be reduced if you use condoms. The continued use of condoms in a long-term relationship is a personal decision that only the couple can make.
Most couples find that as the importance of the HSV infection in their relationship is seen in perspective, that condom use can become less relevant if this is the only reason condoms are being used.
However, at all costs couples should try to avoid sexual intercourse during an active episode of herpes, because this is when the virus is most likely to be transmitted. This period includes the time from when your partner first has warning signs of an outbreak, such as a tingling or burning in the genitals, until the last of the sores has healed. Also, sexual activity prolongs the healing of the episode.
Transmission risk is increased if there are any breaks in the skin, for example, if you have thrush or small abrasions from sexual intercourse, often due to insufficient lubrication. It can be helpful to use a lubricant specifically for sexual intercourse and avoid sex if you have thrush. Sexual lubrication is helpful right at the start of sexual activity.
Sores in other areas, such as the buttocks and thighs, can be just as contagious as those in the genital area, and care should be taken to avoid direct contact with such sores during sex.
At other times, there is still a small risk of transmitting the infection, even if there are no signs of genital herpes.
If you or your partner has a cold sore, it is advisable to avoid oral sex as this can spread the virus to the genitals.
You cannot catch genital herpes by sharing cups, towels or bath water, or from toilet seats. Even during an outbreak, it is only skin to skin contact with the parts of your partner's body which have the sores which you need to avoid. You can still cuddle, share a bed, or kiss.
HSV can be passed on when one person has the virus present on the skin or mucosa and another person makes direct skin-to-skin contact with the live virus.
The herpes virus is likely to be present on the skin from the first sign of prodrome (tingling or itching where the outbreak usually occurs), until the sores have completely healed and new skin is present.
There are likely to be certain periods of time (possibly only a few days out of the year) when the active virus might be on the skin, even though there are no obvious signs or symptoms.
Always using latex condoms may possibly reduce the risk of transmitting the virus at these times.
Herpes is very frequently transmitted by infected persons who do not know they are infected.
Once diagnosed, a person generally is able to take the simple precautions necessary to protect partners - avoiding contact during prodrome or an outbreak and practising safer sex when no symptoms are present.
OUTBREAKS AND RECURRENCES:
People who experience an episode (outbreak or recurrence) of herpes, either facial or genital, should consider themselves infectious from the start of the episode to the healing of the very last ulcer.
To gain relief from frequent recurrences, antiviral treatment may help. It can prevent some recurrences and provide valuable 'breathing time' in which people can learn to strengthen their own resources.
It is generally considered that the spreading of genital herpes through inanimate objects, such as soap, towels, clothing, bed sheets, toilet seats, and spa surfaces is highly unlikely because the herpes virus cannot live very long outside of the body.
In theory this virus will die very quickly once the temperature drops or the moisture around the virus dries up, but a scenario can be suggested where the temperature and moisture holds on long enough for the virus to survive outside the body for several minutes. This could arise where an infected person leaves the virus in droplets of warm urine on the toilet seat and someone uses that toilet seat within a few minutes and has a cut that comes in contact with that pool of warm urine. To avoid this scenario wipe the toilet seat before using.
In a sexual relationship with a person who has herpes, the risk of contracting the infection will never be zero. However, these steps can greatly reduce the risk:Tell Your Partner. It is important to understand what herpes is; how it can be prevented; which precautions are best; what are the social and emotional impacts of herpes. Try to avoid any sexual contact if you are infected (abstinence)
Avoid sex during outbreaks as herpes is most contagious during this time. However, some couples have sexual relationships for years without transmitting herpes, just by avoiding sexual contact when symptoms are present.Limit the number of sexual partners
By having sex with a non-infected partner who has sex only with you (mutual monogamy).Use Latex Condoms between outbreaks. Condoms offer useful protection against herpes protecting or covering the mucous membranes, the most likely sites of infection.
However condoms do not guarantee safety. The herpes sore or lesion is not always located in an area covered by the condom.
Laboratory studies show that:
herpes virus does not pass through latex condoms
herpes sores occur in places not covered by a condom the condom
is of little help, if any
Condoms do not provide 100 percent protection because a lesion may be found which the condom did not cover. Used consistently, however, condoms are one of the best available forms of prevention.
with any sexually transmitted disease (STD) may be at greater
risk of developing cervical cancer than other women. All women
should have regular Pap Smear tests at least once a year as
early cell changes can be detected by Pap smears.
Avoid contact with any herpes blister, sore or abrasion because of the highly contagious nature of this virus. Even if the blister is elsewhere on the body and not directly located on a sexual organ.
The fingers, eyes and other body areas can be accidentally infected by touching the sores. In this way the virus can spread to other areas of the body.
Preventing self-infection is simple: do not touch the area during an outbreak, if you do, wash your hands immediately with soap and warm water. This will prevent the virus from spreading further.
Hot News! On November 20th, 2002 the development of the first effective herpes vaccine was announced.
U.S. researchers have produced an effective vaccine for genital herpes for the first time, offering hope that the spread of the incurable disease, which affects one in five adult Americans, can be limited.
The vaccine prevented infection in 74 percent of women exposed for the first time to the genital herpes virus, known as herpes simplex virus type 2.
But the vaccine didn't work at all in men, researchers reported, adding they were not sure why.
The Stanberry team's test included 978 women and 1,736 men whose partners had genital herpes, all of whom got either three vaccine shots or three placebo shots within a six-month period. They were followed for a total of 19 months.
The researchers discovered the vaccine didn't work well in women who had been infected by a related virus, the herpes simplex virus type 1, which is responsible for cold sores or fever blisters. Only when women had never been exposed to type 1 or type 2 herpes did the effectiveness of the vaccine reach 74 percent. Stanberry said even with those limitations and the lack of effectiveness in men, the vaccine could be a powerful weapon in the fight against herpes.A new final-stage study of the vaccine is planned to be launched, that will involve 7,550 women aged 18 to 30 around the United States.
If the new tests bear out the existing study results, the vaccine could be available in about five years, said Lawrence Stanberry of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, who led the study, published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.
Other herpes vaccines are currently being investigated and it is felt that an effective vaccine may be available in 3-5 years. Vaccines will only function to prevent the infection in new patients. Those who already have the simplex virus disease will probably not gain any benefit. Other vaccines have been tried to prevent the HSV occurrence, but so far had no noticeable effects. These include the smallpox, Polio and Lupidon C vaccine.
Information & contributions for this article have been compiled from Yahoo! News.
After you have read this information and discussed genital herpes with your partner, you might have specific questions or concerns. Your doctor or your partner's doctor should be able to answer such questions or recommend other experts who can provide advice and support. Continue to go back to your doctor until all your queries about genital herpes are answered.
In some areas, there are local genital herpes support groups that can be a valuable source of information and support. Ask your doctor if there is such a group in your area or look through our Support Groups page.
If you want further information regarding herpes treatment, you can:
Other Great Links
Herpes Free Diet Guide
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