The history of herpes begins as early as ancient Greek times. Hippocrates speaks of the condition in his writings. Even the word “herpes” is a Greek word that means “to creep or crawl” which is the way that the Greeks described the way that skin lesions spread. In Roman times, the emperor Tiberius tried to stop an outbreak of mouth herpes by prohibiting kissing at public events and ceremonies. Soon after Tiberius, a physician named Celsus suggested that herpes be treated by cauterizing the sores with a hot iron.
It is unknown how long Tiberius’ ban on kissing lasted or how long Celsus’ treatment was used, but both seem to have ended pretty quickly. Later in history, Shakespeare is believed to have had knowledge of the virus. In his play Romeo and Juliet he talks about “blisters plagues” which scholars believe refers to the herpes virus. There are also medical journals from the seventeen and early eighteen hundreds that discuss this disease. During this time there was also a lot of speculation as to what caused herpes – one of the most notable was the suggestion that herpes was caused by insect bites.
Obviously, the history of herpes contains a lot of misconceptions. However, this information doesn’t really tell us when or where the history of herpes started. The origin of herpes in humans is unknown. Some scholars believe that it has been around since the beginning of the human race. In more recent times, there started to be recognition of genital herpes history and the way that the virus spreads as early as the 1900s. Studies began to define various strains of the virus and in 1919 a man by the name of Lowenstein confirmed scientists’ suspicion that herpes was infectious.
Before this time, people were unsure that herpes was a virus – in fact, many considered it to be like other common skin conditions, such as eczema, which cannot be transmitted. Studies of herpes continued into the twentieth century and scientists were able to begin identifying various strains of the virus. Genital herpes history continues as scientists and physicians continue to study it and search for ways to minimize its’ effects and the chance of transmission. Genital herpes is a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease.
Genital herpes is often called a silent condition; most of infected people have minimal or no signs or symptoms. It is also silent in another way, too: almost one out of every five people in the U. S. has genital herpes, but shame keeps many of them quiet. The cause is a strain of the herpes simplex virus. This virus enters your body through small breaks in your skin or mucous membranes. The illness is characterized by pain, itching, and sores in your genital area. Sexual contact is the primary way that genital HSV (herpes simplex virus) spreads.
It is almost impossible to get the infection through contact with toilets, towels, or other objects used by an infected person, because the virus dies quickly outside the body. HSV affects both men and women. There is no cure for the chronic infection, which may cause embarrassment and emotional distress. Having genital herpes is no reason to avoid sex or give up on relationships though. If one partner is infected, one can manage the spread of HSV by taking the steps to protect one self and his/her partner. In the past ten years, the number of people in the United States who are infected with HSV has decreased.
However, genital herpes is still common. There are between 50 and 80 percent of American adults who has HSV-1 (Planned Parenthood). Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 or type 2. Most genital herpes is caused by the HSV-2. Most individuals have no or only minimal signs or symptoms from HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection. When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take tow to four weeks to heal the first time they occur.
Typically, another outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first, but it almost always is less severe and shorter then the first outbreak. Although the infection can stay in the body indefinitely, the numbers of outbreaks tend to decrease over a period of year. Two types of herpes simplex virus infections can cause genital herpes. HSV type 1 is the type that usually causes cold sores or fever blisters around your mouth, though it can be spread to one’s genital area during oral sex. HSV type 2 is the type that commonly causes genital herpes. The virus
spreads through sexual contact and skin-to-skin contact. HSV-2 is very common and highly contagious whether one has an open sore or not. However, in many people the infection causes no recognized signs or symptoms and can still be spread to a sexual partner. Many people who’ve been infected with HSV never know they have the disease because they no signs or symptoms. The signs and symptoms of HSV can be so mild that they go unnoticed. About half of those infected with HSV have only one outbreak in their lifetimes. However, if signs and symptoms do occur during the first outbreak, the signs can be quit evident.
The first outbreak usually occurs within two weeks after the virus is transmitted, and the sores typically heal within tow to four weeks. Other signs and symptoms during the primary episode may include a second crop of sores, and flu-like symptoms, including fever and swollen glands. When present, signs and symptoms of genital herpes may include: small red bumps, blisters, or open sores; also pain or itching around ones genital area, buttocks or thighs. The initial symptoms of genital herpes usually are pain or itching, beginning two to ten days after exposure to and infected sexual partner.
After several days, small, red bumps may appear. They then rupture, becoming ulcers that ooze bleed or bleed. After three to four days, scabs form and the ulcers heal. In women, sores can erupt into the vaginal area, external genitals, buttocks, anus, or cervix. In men, the sores can appear on the penis, scrotum, buttocks, anus, or thighs, or inside the urethra (the channel between the bladder and the penis). Genital herpes is spread by touching, kissing, and sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
It can be passed form one partner to another and from one part of the body to another. Brief skin-to-skin contact is all that’s needed to pass the virus. Because herpes may have not symptoms for years, sometimes it is very difficult to know who passed it to whom. Herpes is most contagious when sores are open and “weeping” until the scabs heal and fall off. Herpes can also be spread when there are no symptoms; most people with oral herpes are infected as children. Mucous membranes of the mouth, vagina, penis, anus, and eyes can become infected with herpes.
Skin can be infected if it is cut, chafed, or burned, or has a rash or other sores. In healthy adults, genital herpes generally doesn’t cause other serious permanent complications besides the sores. However, people with weakened immune symptoms may have more severe and longer lasting outbreaks. Having genital herpes can increase the risk of transmitting or contracting other sexually transmitted diseases, including the AIDS virus. A mother with open sores can spread the infection to her newborn as the infant passes through the birth canal.
Genital herpes may result in brain damage blindness, or death for the newborn. The infection is more common in infants born to mothers who are having their first outbreak of active herpes infection at the delivery time. Once a person is infected with genital herpes, it moves from the skin or the membranes around the genitals to the central nervous system, where it remains for life. There is no cure for genital herpes/ the virus can “wake up” or reactivate to cause a recurrence of the disease. When reactivation occurs, the virus travels down the nerves to the skin.
It may cause blisters, genital itching, tenderness, burning, tingling, or redness, but it usually just makes copies of itself with no symptoms. Nevertheless, Oral prescription antiviral medications can help heal the sores sooner and reduce the frequency of relapses. If taken daily, these medications may also reduce the chance that one may infect his/her partner with the herpes virus. If one suspects that he/ she has genital herpes, see one’s doctor. One’s doctor usually can diagnose herpes by taking a tissue scraping or culture of the blisters or early ulcer for examination in the laboratory.
The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted disease, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to uninfected. Genital herpes disease can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom, as well as in areas that not covered. Correct and constant use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of genital herpes. The number one way to prevent herpes is through abstinence. This method of prevention is certain to keep one safe from any type of disease.