Herpes - Symptoms, Tests and Treatment

Herpes is caused by a virus that lives in the nerves.

There are two types of herpes.

  1. Herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) usually causes cold sores around the mouth.
  2. Herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) usually causes sores in the genital area.

However, it is possible to get HSV-2 in the mouth and HSV-1 in the genital area.


Itchy or painful blisters. Spread of virus is through skin-to-skin contact with sores, but it may also spread before sores can be seen on the infected person.

The virus stays for a lifetime. In most people, the sores come and go. Sometimes, there are no symptoms because the virus is hiding in the nerves.

Genital HSV-2 infection is more common in women than men. In addition, women living with HIV may have more frequent or difficult to treat herpes outbreaks.

Time when symptoms start appearing: 2 - 21 days (avg. 6 days)

When is it right time to test: Blood test: 70% accurate results after 3 months. Swab test: avg. 1 week


PCR (blood test). The PCR blood test can tell if you have genital herpes even if you don't have symptoms. This is the most common test used to diagnose genital herpes and is very accurate.


There is no cure for herpes, but the antiviral drugs can reduce the number of outbreaks if taken daily and can shorten outbreaks and make them less severe if taken as soon as symptoms begin. Pregnant women can pass herpes to their babies, so it is important to let your doctor know if you have genital herpes and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

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