Herpes II, more commonly known as genital herpes, is from the herpes simplex virus family and is a chronic long-term condition. This virus causes painful blisters on the genitals and surrounding areas and is transmitted by having any form of sex.
How common is herpes II?
Genital herpes is a common condition, especially in the age group of 20-24 year olds. Approximately 25% of sexually active people in the UK have genital herpes, although it is estimated that only 1 in 4 of these will be diagnosed.
In the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 776,000 people get new herpes infections each year.
How is herpes II passed on
People get the virus II by having any form of sex with someone who has herpes II. This includes:
Unprotected vaginal sex
Unprotected anal sex
Unprotected oral sex
Sharing sex toys
It can also be passed on from an infected mother to her child during birth.
Transmission can occur even if your sexual partner is not currently showing any signs of the virus.
What are the complications of herpes II?
Herpes can cause problems during pregnancy, the severity of which depends on whether herpes was already existent or if it was contracted for the first time while pregnant. Herpes in neonates is serious and can in some cases cause death. Outbreaks are recurrent, causing painful sores to appear.
What is the difference between herpes I and herpes II?
Herpes Type I usually causes small, painful blisters on the lips, mouth, gums or skin around the mouth, commonly known as cold sores. Herpes II causes painful blisters on the genitals and surrounding areas. Although both highly contagious, type I and II are different strains of the virus within the same family.
Symptoms of herpes II
Most people who have herpes do not realise they have it until the onset of severe symptoms – 3 in 4 of people are asymptomatic or only show mild symptoms.
The cycle of the Herpes Simplex Virus
Once you have become infected with Herpes Simplex Virus, the following cycle will occur.
1. Inflammation – the infected area will become swollen and red, and some people may experience tingles.
2. Blisters – blisters will rise up from the infected area. These will be filled with fluid.
3. Ulcers – after the blisters have appeared, the skin will eventually break. Small wet looking ulcers will appear leak white or clear fluid.
4. Crusting – the is is the start of the healing process. The blisters and ulcers will turn into scabs. When the scabs have cleared, this episode of herpes is past. However, the virus still remains in the body and it will reoccur.
Some people may only experience one outbreak, others will experience multiple. The first outbreak is usually the worst, with subsequent outbreaks being less severe. Herpes outbreaks can be triggered by stress, illness and fatigue.
How long does it take for symptoms of herpes II to appear?
Symptoms do not usually appear as soon as you are infected. It may take months or even years for the outbreak of herpes I to appear. It usually takes between 2 to 20 days before any outbreaks develop.
What happens if herpes II is left untreated?
Once you have the HSV-2 virus it will remain in your body for life. But while it is not curable, it is manageable. However, if genital herpes is left untreated it increases the risk of the following:
Genital herpes cause painful sores in many adults, but those who have suppressed immune systems suffer severe pain.
Herpes II can transfer to other parts of the body if a person touches their sore, or the fluid from the sores, and then touches another part of their body.
Genital herpes have been linked to the transfer of HIV. The sores can bleed easily and when the blood comes into contact with the mouth, vagina or rectum during sex, HIV can be passed from one sexual partner to the other.
Miscarriage and premature birth can be a result of untreated genetal herpes.
If left untreated in an expectanct mother, genital herpes can be passed from mother to child resulting neonatal herpes, a potentially fatal infection.
Can I be cured of herpes II?
There is no treatment that can cure herpes. Antiviral medications can, however, prevent or shorten outbreaks during the period of time the person takes the medication. In addition, daily suppressive therapy (i.e., daily use of antiviral medication) for herpes can reduce the likelihood of transmission to partners.
How often do you need to test for herpes II?
Herpes II may not always display symptoms. It can therefore be difficult to know if you are infected. It is a good idea to have regular screening if you are sexually active. A comprehensive STI screen is recommended once a year or with every change of sexual partner.
Who is at risk of herpes II?
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of Herpes II. In order to reduce the risk of Herpes II, practice safe sex by using a condom every time you have sex.
Where can I get a test for herpes II
Confidante tests for 10 STIs at the same time, including Herpes II. Confidante is available to buy securely online here or you can find your nearest stockist to buy in store.
How reliable is the herpes II test?
Herpes II is included as one of the ten STIs that Confidante tests for simultaneously. Analysis of your sample is carried out in a fully accredited laboratory. Confidante is a cutting-edge testing procedure that uses molecular diagnostics that far exceed other STI tests currently available. The test screens for multiple STI pathogens to identify specific viral, protozoan or bacterial pathogens.
How is herpes II treated?
Herpes II can be treated, but not cured. The type of treatment will depend on whether you have herpes II for the first time or if you are experiencing a recurrent outbreak. For an initial infection, your GP may prescribe antiviral tablets. For a recurrent outbreak, you will be advised to keep the area clean, keep the area cool or avoid wearing tight clothing around the infected area. If symptoms are more severe, antiviral drugs may be prescribed. If your results are positive, contact your GP for treatment.
What are the benefits of home testing?
Home testing avoids the inconvenience or embarrassment of attending a GUM or sexual health clinic for STI screening. With Confidante you can easily buy the kit online or at your nearest stockist. When purchasing online, the kit will be delivered to your chosen address in a discreet, plain package. You can take the test at a time and place that suits you in the privacy of your own home with no worries about having to discuss your sexual practices or details with a doctor or nurse.
Buy our Herpes II test
Herpes II is included as one of the 10 STIs Confidante tests for in one single kit. If you are worried about herpes II and are concerned you may be at risk, Confidante can provide a confidential and accurate diagnosis for not only herpes II, but 9 other STIs that may occur without any symptoms.
Confidante tests for all of the following STIs from one sample:
Herpes simplex virus I
Herpes simplex virus II
Treponema pallidum (Syphilis) *
Haemophilus ducreyi (chancroid)
* Syphilis is most accurately detected using a swab from a blister or a sore. Not all Syphilis infections can be detected in a urine sample.
By using Confidante you can achieve peace of mind, knowing that you have screened for 10 of the most common STIs. It is possible for more than one infection to exist at the same time. If you think you have herpes II, it is beneficial to screen for other STIs at the same time.
Did you know?
Herpes II is not curable, but can be managed with antiviral medicines
Herpes II can increase the risk of contracting HIV
Confidentiality and privacy is top priority and Confidante ensures this via:
Discreet packaging – no indication as to the contents
Self-addressed return envelope for returning sample
Your results are never shared with any third party
Choose to view results securely online or via phone, email or post
Why screen for multiple STIs?
Not all STIs show symptoms, so it is possible to have an STI and not be aware of it. In addition to this, many STIs can co-exist – meaning it is possible to have more than one STI at the same time. A single STI test will detect just that one specific infection and will therefore not detect any additional infections that may be present. Confidante tests for 10 STIs from a single sample, providing a complete profile of your sexual health so you can really put your mind at ease.