Genital herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV. There are two types of HSV and both can cause genital herpes. HSV type 1 usually affects the lips but it can also infect the genital area. HSV type 2 is most common cause of genital herpes, but it can also infect the mouth during oral sex or autoinoculation. Symptoms are especially pronounced in the case of primary infection in form of burning sensation or discomfort on genital skin accompanied with creation of bubbles that eventually burst leaving sores on the skin or mucous membrane, often with fever. Changes in the vagina usually accompanies an increase in pain and lymph nodes in the groin.
In people with healthy immune system, HSV infections remain localized and very rarely is a serious disease, but it can be a serious disease for people with weakened immune systems (people living with HIV / AIDS, those receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy or taking corticosteroids) .
In HPV infected pregnant women delivery is done with Caesarean section in order to prevent HSV transmission to newborn.
HPV infection is contagious as long as there are visible symptoms or until blisters heal. Some studies suggest that infection can be spread also by asymptomatic individuals. HPV can be isolated also after 2 to 7 weeks after the primary labial or genital infection. Contamination period of recurring infections is shorter and virus is rarely detectable after 5 days.
HSV infection is diagnosed on the basis of clinical symptoms and confirmed with laboratory findings, which include cytological smears, serology and PCR.
There is no cure for genital herpes but early treatment as early as possible can prevent outbreak of bubbles and sores, greatly reduce the symptoms and frequency of relapses. Treatment encompasses usage of antiviral drugs such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir in form of pills or creams and if needed analgesics for pain management.