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Symptoms may not always be present, but can include an itching or tingling feeling around the infected area and an outbreak of painful blisters or sores which later form scabs. You may also get flu-like symptoms - like aches, fevers and nausea.
Many people who have the virus don’t know it, as they may have no symptoms, and these infections are very common. Herpes can be passed on both sexually and non-sexually during skin-to-skin contact, by direct contact with a sore on the mouth, dick or ass and can also be transmitted where there are no obvious symptoms.
A physical examination of the affected area can detect a herpes outbreak and there are tests available (but may cost to take) - see a doctor.
There is no cure and the virus stays in your body (specifically your brain) for life, but there are treatments that can reduce symptoms and speed up recovery. The possibility of repeated outbreaks varies from person to person, but outbreaks may become less frequent and over time may stop all together.
Outbreaks of herpes can be more severe and last longer for those with HIV. HIV viral loads can peak during outbreaks and increase transmission risk to partners of both herpes and HIV – however, if you have undetectable viral load, there is no risk of HIV transmission for your partner.
Condoms can reduce the risk of transmission. There is also strong evidence that taking anti-HSV medications greatly reduces the risk of passing herpes on to partners.
The NZAF network