What is Herpes (HSV)?
An unwanted friend for life. Herpes is an extremely common virus; there are two types of the Herpes virus Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 appears on the mouth and face and is more commonly known as cold sores; by age 15 about 25% of the UK population have Type 1 increasing to 50% by the age of 30. Type 2 appears on the skin around the genitals and arse, about 25% of sexually active people in the UK carry Type 2
Herpes is transmitted through both sexual and non-sexual skin-to-skin contact with the mouth, dick or arse of an infected partner.
Some people will have no symptoms at all – other will experience outbreaks, these usually start with an itch or tingling feeling and can be followed by painful blisters or ulcers on the affected skin around the mouth, cock or arse. These blisters then form scabs and disappear once the outbreak is over. Other people may feel like they are coming down with a case of man flu. Outbreaks will usually occur between 2 – 7 days after exposure and are much more likely to re-occur at times when your immune system is low.
A swab taken from the infected area during an outbreak can determine if you have the virus. Once you have herpes it stays with you for life. There is no cure, but there are treatments that can reduce symptoms and speed up recovery. The possibility of repeated outbreaks varies from person to person, outbreaks may become less frequent and over time may stop all together. If you experience repeated outbreaks and you are finding them severe, regular, or are simply not coping with them, speak to your GUM clinic about getting some treatment. To protect your partners, avoid having sexual contact during outbreaks and until all signs of affected skin have 100% completely disappeared.
Condoms can reduce the risk of transmission but may not always cover the skin that is infected. Avoid having skin contact with someone who has blisters/sores or has recently had an outbreak, remember the virus may live on the skin of lips, arse, cock balls or thighs.
Taking anti-HSV medications greatly reduces the risk of passing herpes on to partners.
For HIV positive guys the effects of herpes flare-ups may be magnified making outbreaks more severe, this is due to a weaker immune system. Herpes can also increase the amount of viral load in your cum, making it easier to pass HIV on to partners.
For HIV negative guys fucking during an outbreak of herpes increases the risk of catching HIV.
Where can I test?
If you think you may have herpes visit a GUM clinic when you are having an outbreak so they can test the sore for HSV