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Did you know that...?

The prevalence of the virus in Canada

In Canada,40% to 70% of individuals are carriers of type 1 herpes, and 6% to 19% are carriers of type 2.

 

Most ignore it because they are asymptomatic. This accentuates the stigma surrounding herpes since many people believe that it is not a common STBBI, although it is one of the most widespread.

Factors favoring recurrences

Each person reacts differently to the virus. So what may be a trigger for one person may not be for another.

The factors that can cause recurrences are, among others, stress, lifestyle, prolonged exposure to the sun, menstruation or hormonal changes, a recent operation, as well as problems affecting the immune system.

 

It is recommended to try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, for example, eat well, have restful sleep, exercise, develop stress management strategies, etc.

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Possible treatments

Antiviral drugs are very effective in reducing the possibilities of virus activation. It remains an individual choice to take them and there are also other ways to avoid transmission. If antiviral treatment is an option, here's what is available:

 

1. Episodic treatment which must be taken as soon as possible at the onset of symptoms, or even prodromes. This treatment is effective in terms of recurrences and also increases the healing speed of lesions.

 

2.   Suppressive/continuous treatment, which consists of taking an average of one pill a day, and which reduces the number of recurrences, the possibilities of transmission, and the periods of asymptomatic excretion.

This treatment reduces the probabilities of transmission to 1.1% per year, with or without condom use.

Blood tests

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Without symptoms, the only possible screening test for the herpes virus is a blood test. However, the results associated with serology are nebulous and interpretable. Indeed, there is the possibility of getting false positives or false negatives.

 

The test aims to detect the presence of antibodies that are fighting the virus in the body. It can determine the type of herpes the person is potentially carrying, but not the area where the virus is active.

 

In addition, the emotional burden that a diagnosis of herpes causes can be quite significant. For this reason, most healthcare professionals recommend waiting for symptoms to appear before having blood tests. The most effective screening is the culture of lesions, which must be done within 24 to 48 hours of their appearance.

Terms and their connotations 

during the disclosure of herpes

Some sentencing may sound less pejorative when disclosure of status. The words chosen tend to influence the perception of the person receiving the information.

 

Saying for example: I live with the herpes virus, or I am a carrier of the virus instead of I have herpes. Talk about possibilities of transmissions rather than risks, recurrences instead of attacks or infections.

Talk about the strategies already in place, such as medication if this is the case. Draw a parallel between cold sores (in the mouth) and genital herpes: it's the same virus, but some people don't know it. This can help to de-dramatize.

Disclosure, is it mandatory?

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In Canada, there is currently no law that requires a person to disclose their herpes diagnosis. It is a personal choice.

There have been a few cases of lawsuits in Quebec, but these are very rare because the person suing must be able to prove that he or she was not a carrier of the virus before the sexual encounter.

 

This is very difficult because the virus can lie dormant in the body for several years.

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Herpès génital et grossesse

It is entirely possible for a person to be pregnant and give birth while living with genital herpes. All it takes is careful monitoring with the health care provider and taking the suppressive treatment at the 36th week. If necessary, delivery by cesarean will be indicated.

Transmission via everyday objects

The herpes virus is not transmitted through everyday objects such as toilet seats, towels, utensils or bed sheets. The virus breaks down very quickly when it is outside the human body.

 

It would take immediate contact as well as an entry point for transmission to occur in this manner. Indirect transmission is rather exceptional since it does not involve optimal conditions.

Preventive methods

Different prevention methods are possible and can be even more effective when used in combination. External condoms can prevent direct skin-to-skin contact, but they do not always cover all areas that may be infected with the virus. It depends on where the lesions are located. In some cases, an internal condom may be more effective since it covers a larger area of skin.

Lubricant may also be recommended as it reduces friction that could cause additional entry points for the virus. It's a matter of figuring out which methods work best for you and your situation.

 

Some people prefer to abstain from sexual contact during recurrences, and others simply favor other sexual practices (mutual masturbation, erotic massage). It is entirely up to the person's discretion. If you wish, you can discuss the matter with your partner(s).

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