Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused from two different strains of the herpes simplex virus. Type 1 is what causes oral herpes and is spread through kissing. Type 2 is what causes genital herpes and is spread by vaginal and anal sex.
Type 1 can cause genital herpes if a person who has an outbreak of oral herpes performs oral sex on someone who is not already infected. The exposure turns into genital herpes. This is true when a person a person who has an outbreak of genital herpes has oral sex performed on them, causing oral herpes in their partner.
People in the U.S. with Herpes
Around 45 million people have genital herpes in the United States. One statistic showed that approximately 90% of those people who have type 2 of herpes simplex are unaware that they even have it. About 50-80% of adults have type 1 of herpes, oral herpes.
Blindly Carrying the Disease
It is common for someone to be unaware that they have herpes because people either have no symptoms (which symptoms can appear years following their exposure) or mild symptoms. Such mild symptoms include sores that are not visible or there are very few of them. In this case, people often see the blisters or bumps and easily confuse herpes for hemorrhoids, razor burn, a rash, or even an ingrown hair. The itching sensation can be mistaken for jock itch or a yeast infection (without seeking the advice of a doctor). Often times, when people have herpes they may not know it until some type of stress or weakening of their immune system occurs and sets off the symptoms.
People commonly think that they received the infection from someone who does not have it, when they were actually the carriers of it. The best way to determine whether or not you have the infection is to get a test done by a doctor. A doctor just takes a blood sample. That is the most accurate determinant of the sexually transmitted disease. People who do not have an outbreak may think that they contracted it from their current partner when they actually may have contracted it from someone long ago, or even a more current partner. That person also might not be aware of it either because they have also not had an outbreak. It can be determined who spread the infection also.
What Can Be Done for Safety
The only way that the spread of the disease can be prevented is to have not been sexually active with anyone who was infected, to not have unprotected sexual contact with anyone, whether or not they have the infection. Unfortunately, that only reduces the risk. It is also a good idea to not kiss someone who has a cold sore or fever blister because type 1 herpes is easily spread that way. The only way to really protect yourself is to be cautious and careful of whom you are in contact with, since it is a lifelong infection without a cure.
Photo Credit: Sim Dawdler