Herpes Simplex Virus 2 & Genital Herpes

Herpes Simplex Virus, type-2 is a member virus from the family of viruses known as Herpesviridae. It is also called Human Herpes Viridae type 2 (HVV-2). This virus i highly communicable in nature and leads to the occurrence of genital herpes in majority of cases though rarely it will cause oral herpes as well but the chance of that happening is very low.

HSV-2 is widespread throughout the world and is almost exclusively sexually transmitted. HSV-2 can also be transmitted from the skin in the genital and anal area that looks normal without symptoms and is mostly transmitted when there are no apparent symptoms. Infections due to this virus is life long and incurable.

HSV-2 is a global issue. In 2012, the prevalence of this virus was estimated to be highest in Africa (31.5%) followed by the Americas (14.4%). There are more women which are afflicted with this virus than men. In 2012, it was estimated that around 267 million women and 150 million men were living with the infection.



Signs and Symptoms

Genital herpes infections often have no symptoms, or mild symptoms that go unrecognized. Most infected people are unaware that they have the infection. Typically, about 10-20% of people with HSV-2 infection report a prior diagnosis of genital herpes.

When symptoms do occur, genital herpes is characterized by one or more genital or anal blisters or open sores called ulcers. In addition to genital ulcers, symptoms of new genital herpes infections often include fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

After an initial genital herpes infection with HSV-2, recurrent symptoms are common but often less severe than the first outbreak. The frequency of outbreaks tends to decrease over time. People infected with HSV-2 may experience sensations of mild tingling or shooting pain in the legs, hips, and buttocks before the occurrence of genital ulcers.


Women usually experience lesions around the vaginal opening, in the vagina, around the anus, or on the cervix.  The lesions ulcerate then become filled with fluid, which is accompanied by swollen lymph glands in the groin, and the infection is usually active for six weeks and mostly painless.  Women also seem to be at greater risk of contracting the disease, perhaps due to increased risk to a receptive partner.  Another reason for greater risk is if the woman has not previously had an HSV-1 infection.  It is believed that a prior infection would partially guard against infection with HSV-2.


Men who contract herpes for the first time usually have no symptoms or a brief period of discomfort while urinating.  More severe cases have small blisters that form open sores appearing on the tip or shaft of the penis.  This can last for approximately two weeks, and a burning sensation during urination and clear discharge from the penis is common.  Symptoms include lymph node enlargement, fever, tiredness, headache, and muscle aches during the episode.  Recurrences are preceded by a tingling, itching or burning sensation on the penis one to two days prior to visible blisters and sores.  Using condoms during sexual activity limits the spread of HSV infection.



Although there is no cure for herpes, treatments can relieve the symptoms. Medication can decrease the pain related to an outbreak and can shorten healing time. They can also decrease the total number of outbreaks. Drugs including Famvir, Zovirax, and Valtrex are among the drugs used to treat the symptoms of herpes. Warm baths may relieve the pain associated with genital sores.