Aids Affairs: What are the symptoms of herpes?

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April 26, 2016

Dear Counsellor,

What are the symptoms of herpes? The reason I am asking is that I recently had a very frank talk with my boyfriend after we both decided that we want to become Christians, and so we must have an open and frank relationship going forward. I am still a little uncomfortable to learn that my boyfriend is infected with herpes; and what is very worrying is that there is no cure. We both agreed that we would remain with each other even after the frank discussion, no matter what comes out. I love my boyfriend and want to continue the relationship with him and possible marry him one day. Please tell me about herpes.

Concerned Lover

Dear Concerned Lover,

There are two types of herpes simplex viruses, herpes simplex type 1, also called as oral herpes or night fever. Symptoms for herpes simplex type 1(HSV1) usually appear from the waist up, but are commonly seen at the corner of the mouth. HSV1 is not considered a sexually transmitted infection. However, this type of herpes can be passed on during oral sex. Then there is herpes simplex type 2 (HSV2). HSV2 usually has symptoms from the waist down, but is commonly found in the genital or anal area. HSV2 is considered a sexually transmitted infection. A person may be infected with herpes for many years but shows no symptoms at all. However, symptoms could include itching, numbness, watery blisters, pain in the legs, anal or genital area, vaginal discharge, fever, swollen glands in the groin area and neck, headache and muscle aches. There is no specific treatment to cure herpes viruses; however, treatment to promote fast healing and prevent the spreading of the virus may include taking prescription antiviral medications such as Famvir and Zoviax. To prevent herpes, you must abstain from all sexual activities or use condoms every time you have sex. Herpes simplex viruses are most likely to be transmitted when the virus is active.

Dear Counsellor,

Please tell me what effects syphilis has on pregnant women. I am pregnant and infected with syphilis.

Pregnant Mother

Dear Pregnant Mother,

As a pregnant mother, you could transmit syphilis to your unborn child through the placenta or by contact with the sore during birth. The bacteria can also travel across the placenta through the bloodstream to infect the baby. You must discuss the infection with your doctor to ensure that you are properly treated. If not treated properly, you could have a miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth or death of the baby right after birth. Therefore, early treatment is very important.

For more information on condom use, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, call the AIDS/STD Helpline toll free at 1888-991-4444 or write to AIDS Affairs, c/o The Gleaner, 7 North Street, Kingston.