The most commonly reported sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States include Gonorrhea, Herpes, Syphilis, Chlamydia, Trichomoniasis, and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Herpes is a type of STD that is caused by a virus that infects either the oral cavity or genitals including the anal. STD infections are generally transmitted through blood or sexual contact with an infected person. These can create mild to severe symptoms and can also cause lifetime damages in some cases. However, early diagnosis and proper treatment can reduce the severity of the infections.
What is Herpes?
Herpes is one of the highly contagious sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) caused by the herpes simplex virus, which creates sores on the genitals and mouth. Most oral and genital herpes infections are asymptomatic. The infection is common and endemic across the world. It can create irritation and pain, but it does not usually lead to serious health issues. However, the infection can recur in certain cases without developing visible symptoms.
Types of Herpes
The two common herpes simplex viruses are:
- Herpes simplex virus type 1
- Herpes simplex virus type 2
Infection with herpes simplex virus can be caused by either herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Herpes can also be classified as
- Oral herpes
- Genital herpes
Both oral and genital herpes don’t show noticeable symptoms or in most cases they are unrecognized but they can cause some common symptoms of painful blisters or ulcers in the area of infection.
HSV-1 is mainly spread by oral-to-oral contact, causing infection in or around the mouth, oral herpes. However, the infection can develop in or around the genitals through oral-genital contact, which is commonly called genital herpes.
HSV-2 is primarily transmitted through genital-to-genital contact with an infected person during sex, which causes blisters or sores in the genital or anal area. Anal herpes is caused by HSV-2 type.
Anal Herpes Cause: Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2)
Herpes simplex virus type 2 is primarily transmitted through sex or sexual contact with an infected person. HSV-2 is the prime cause of genital herpes, however, in some cases, the genital infection can also be caused by HSV-1. HSV-2 infection is widespread across the globe and it is permanent and incurable.
The cause of anal herpes can be drilled down to how the virus has got into your anal track. If you are sexually active and practice anal sex with unknown partners, then there are high chances of contracting herpes anally from an infected person. Some people have a myth that anal or oral sex is a bit safer than vaginal sex. However, that is not true. The virus invades your body vial anal or orally as easily as they invade via penile or vaginally.
An estimated population of 491 million people aged between 15 and 49 is infected with HSV-2 in 2016, according to the statistics given by WHO. It is also seen that more women are infected with HSV-2 than men. The proportion of infection in women and men was estimated to be 313 million women and 178 million men in 2016, because of the higher transmission of the virus from men to women than from women to men.
Africa and America are the two countries that have the highest rate of transmission. An estimated percentage of transmission in Africa is 44% in women and 25% in men, and 24% in women and 12% in men in America, making it the second country in the world with the highest number of HSV-2 cases.
Signs and symptoms of Anal Herpes (HSV-2)
Most of the HSV-2 infections occur without any noticeable symptoms and signs which makes most of the infected persons unaware of the infection. About 10-20% of the people infected with HSV-2 report a prior diagnosis of genital herpes, which can also be caused by HSV-1. The common symptoms of the infection caused by HSV-2 include,
- One or more blisters in the anal, and genital area
- Open sores or ulcers in the anal, and genital area
- Sores or blisters in the anus
In addition to the above-mentioned symptoms of genital infection, the symptoms and signs of new anal herpes (or genital herpes in general) often include,
- Body pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pain and itching
Most of the mild symptoms of anal herpes go unnoticed and unrecognized. Regular testing can avoid the development of the infection and can help decrease the severity of the disease.
Transmission of Anal Herpes (HSV-2)
Herpes simplex virus type 2 is mostly transmitted through sex. Genital-to-genital contact is the main reason for the spread of the infection. The contact with genital surfaces, skin, sores, or fluids of the infected person also causes the transmission of genital herpes, and the possibilities of the virus getting transmitted from the skin in the genital or anal area which looks normal without any symptoms are equally high.
Complications caused by Anal Herpes (HSV-2)
- The ones who have the HSV-2 infection are highly prone to HIV infection. Genital herpes infection increases the risk of getting a new HIV infection by three-fold of the infected population. According to World Health Organisation, genital herpes is one of the most common infections in people who are living with HIV, and an estimated 60-90% of HIV patients have acquired herpes infection.
- The recurring symptoms of anal herpes infections, especially genital herpes cause psychological issues and distress in most infected persons. However, most people adjust to living with the infection throughout their life.
- In some cases, genital herpes can also be spread from an infected mother to her infant at the time of delivery, which is commonly called neonatal herpes. An estimated 10 in every 100,000 childbirths report a case of HSV-2. Though the prevalence of this infection is comparatively less, it can also cause infections in the infant after the delivery.
Treatment of Anal Herpes (HSV-2)
Consumption of antivirals prescribed by doctors can reduce the severity of the infection and the frequency of symptoms, but it cannot completely cure anal herpes caused by HSV-2. The most effective medications for anal herpes (HSV-2) infected persons include,
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