Herpes is a common viral infection that can cause sores on your mouth and/or genitals. More than half of Americans have a form of herpes, either HSV-1, which usually affects the mouth (cold sores), or HSV-2, which typically causes symptoms on the genitals. However, HSV-1 can affect the genitals (often through oral sex), and HSV-2 can affect the mouth. It’s spread by skin-to-skin contact with infected areas.

Signs & Symptoms

Sometimes no symptoms appear or aren’t noticed, so while people may not know they are infected, they may be spreading the virus asymptomatically. Herpes can cause painful, itchy blisters that come and go, and although it can be painful and annoying at times, it’s usually not dangerous.

Testing for Herpes

The best way to test for herpes is a gentle swab of a lesion itself, ideally when it first appears.  A blood sample may be taken to test for the virus if no symptoms are present, but it’s not typically recommended and it can take up to 12 weeks or more for a blood test to be accurate after an exposure.

Treatment for Herpes

Medications are available to lessen the severity and length of outbreaks and help prevent them in the future, and people with herpes can lead perfectly healthy lives using these measures. Using condoms with sex can help lower the chance of spreading herpes, but because herpes can affect areas not covered by condoms, it’s important to be aware of symptoms leading to an outbreak.

If you are having symptoms of infection or if you were notified that one of your partners tested positive, we recommend being seen as soon as possible to receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment. Bridgercare offers sliding scale fees and appointments are available Monday through Friday.