Publish 18 February 2021
Which Infection Do You Have?
⚠️ Use discretion. Graphic human anatomy images.
Promiscuity opens you up to many sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some, like AIDS, can be fatal if left untreated. Invasive infections like chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. There are STIs that are chronic, requiring regular treatment by an ob-gyn or family doctor. Other STIs, or venereal diseases, abate and recur.
Good and Bad News About Genital Herpes
- Good news: This non-life-threatening virus can limit itself to one or two areas and it frequently goes into remission.
- Bad news: Herpes is a chronic condition. During flare ups, it can be unsightly, uncomfortable, and very contagious. HSV‑1 (Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1) and HSV‑2 thrive in moist mucosal environments. Hence, they can proliferate around the vulva, labia, peritoneum, buttocks, or the oral-nasal areas. 
Cold sores on the lips are popular manifestations of HSV‑1 (ratio 1:2 USA). Genitals are breeding grounds for HSV‑2 (ratio 1:8 USA). However, each virus can appear in either location, particularly with transmission via fellatio or cunnilingus. So you can contract herpes by kissing, touching, or having sexual contact with an infectious area. The risk to women is 6 times higher than men. Most people with genital herpes do not know they have it while it’s in a dormant state. [2,3]
Symptoms of Genital Herpes
- Painful blisters on the penis, labia, and/or anus.
- Red, broken skin on the penis, labia or anus.
- Itching in genital region.
- Burning sensation during urination.
- Pus discharge from the penis, vagina and/or anus.
Treatment for Genital Herpes
Sexually active individuals who test negative require frequent checkups since the likelihood increases with each encounter. Anti-retroviral therapy suppresses painful blisters. Early treatment reduces the length and severity of each outbreak. Depending upon the location (i.e.: torso, arm, leg), a bandage may reduce contact spread.
A small but permanent colony of viral particles nests inside your body. This colony is often completely inactive (or “asleep”). Herpes pustules flare up and subside throughout your lifetime. 
Learning that you have an STI can be devastating. It does not have to end your opportunity for a satisfying life. People with herpes have romantic and sexual relationships with each other, or with partners who don’t have herpes. This requires fastidious hygiene, timed prophylactic intercourse, and less intimate kisses.
It is important to reveal your herpes before having sex with (or kissing) your partner. The safest course of action is sexual abstinence during a herpes outbreak, even with a condom. [4,5] For more information, see the Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) anatomy poster.
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- What Is Genital Herpes? Causes, Symptoms And Treatments. waaids.com
- Against the odds: what is your risk of STDs from a one-off heterosexual encounter. stdcenterny.com
- Herpes Fast Facts. ashasexualhealth.org
- Living With Herpes. plannedparenthood.org
- Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet. cdc.gov
- Main photo by Kei Scampa from Pexels.
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