Herpes is caused by a common virus – herpes simplex virus (HSV). Many people have been exposed to HSV and have never had any symptoms. Other people will be exposed to the virus and develop symptoms within a couple days or even months later.
We used to talk about the two different types: HSV-1 usually associated with mouth infection and the cause of cold sores, and HSV-2 is usually associated with genital infection. But we now know you can get either type in either place.
How would I get it?
- Spread through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with an infected partner
- You can get sores on your genitals if you receive oral from a partner with a cold sore
- Herpes can spread even if there is no symptoms or sores present
- Mom can pass on to baby during birth
What kind of symptoms could I have if I am infected?
Many people have no symptoms even though they have contracted HSV.
Others may have:
- Flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, muscle pain)
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pain when peeing
- Tingling, itching, or burning right before a sore appears
- Blister-like sores
How do I prevent this?
- Condoms and dental dams reduce transmission but do not provide full protection
- Avoid sex if your partner has an active infection or showing early signs herpes
How do I get tested?
- A diagnosis can often be made by looking at the affected area
- Swab of a sore or a blood test (blood test is not covered by OHIP so will cost you personally)
- Results take 1-2 weeks to come back
What if I test positive?
- You will be provided with antiviral treatment (pills) that shortens outbreaks and lessens the severity
- It may be helpful to talk to you sexual partners about your diagnosis.
How do I know it’s gone?
- There is no cure for herpes but it is very manageable with antiviral medication.
Need more info? Check out these links
- Birth Control
- Emergency Contraception
- HIV Testing & Prevention
- IUD Insertions & Removals
- Pregnancy Testing & Options
- Sexually Transmitted Infections
- Transgender Healthcare
- Other Services