As many as 1 in 5 sexually active people have the Herpes virus. Not everyone is aware that they have it and can transmit it to a sexual partner. Most people are surprised to learn that Herpes is a very common virus. It is a viral infection and can be treated with medication (anti-viral) when there is an active oral or genital lesion. Although the symptoms are treatable, the virus remains present and can cause recurrent “sores” and possible spread to a partner.
The diagnosis of genital herpes can be devastating for some people because even though the symptoms of a lesion or “sore” can be treated, once a person has the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) it is not completely curable and remains dormant allowing it to recur and be passed on to a partner. It is most concerning for pregnant women and it is very important to have suppressive therapy (anti-viral medication) in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy so that there are not active genital lesions at the time of a vaginal birth. A newborn is at risk for a serious infection that could be fatal if not treated. If there are active lesions at the time of labor than a cesarean section is recommended so that the baby does not become infected with the herpes virus.