What is herpes? The herpes virus is closely related to the viruses that cause chicken pox and shingles and there are a number of different strains effecting humans.
The most common is the herpes simplex virus (HSV) types 1 and 2.
HSV type 1 is responsible for cold sores and HSV type 2 is responsible for genital herpes.
A related condition caused by HSV is Herpetic whitlow which is a herpes infection in the fingers.
Other strains of the virus are Varicella (Chicken pox and shingles); Epstein-Barr (Glandular fever); Cytomegalovirus (Cytomegalovirus infections); Human herpes (Roseola or Exanthem).
Herpes is called a chronic or long term condition and many people may carry the virus without displaying the symptoms. Other people suffer many reoccurrences though over time each occurance can become less sever as the body build up defences.
The herpes virus has been around for centuries and the word ‘herpes’ is derived from the ancient Greek word meaning ‘to creep’ and accurately described the nature of the creeping sores in infected parts of the body.
Herpes can be spread very easily. The virus from contact with an infected person can enter the body through a break in the skin or the mouth, penis or vagina. The virus is most easily spread when blisters or sores are in evidence but it can be spread at any time even when the infected person is not displaying any obvious symptoms.
Genital herpes is usually spread from one person to another by having sex, including oral sex. Herpes can also be spread from one place on your body to another, such as from your genitals to your fingers, then to your eyes or to other parts of your body. Herpes can also be spread from a mother to her baby when she gives birth.
Casual sex and having multiple partners are driving the rate of sexually transmitted infections higher than ever, particularly among the young who are more sexually active, have more sexual partners, have a tendency to have overlapping sexual partners and they are more likely to have casual sex partnerships.