Tag Archive 'herpes'

Apr 13 2011

Asymptomatic HSV-2 Carriers May Transmit Genital Herpes

Filed under Research

Asymptomatic HSV-2 Carriers May Transmit Genital Herpes

Researchers at the University of Washington have found just how easily people infected with herpes simplex type 2 virus, which causes genital herpes, can unknowingly pass it on to other people.  On average, the researchers found those “who had had past herpes outbreaks were infectious 20.1% of the time, while the asymptomatic group was found to be able to transmit the virus 10.2% of time.”  Virus presence was detected “at least once in 83.4% of the people with symptomatic infection and in 68.2% of people with asymptomatic herpes.” The authors say the study shows that even people with asymptomatic herpes type 2 “can transmit it to a sexual partner.”

This further means that pregnant women with no symptoms can pass on the virus to their babies with devastating consequences for the newborn, including death.  Moreover, HSV-2 infection can cause complications in people who have weakened immune systems due to chronic disease, and it can increase a person’s likelihood of contracting HIV.

Condom use, drug therapy and disclosure of the disease to partners can help curb the spread of herpes.  A blood tests to detect HSV-2 became widely available in 1999, making it easier for people to find out if they have genital herpes even if the infection isn’t active.

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