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Infectious Diseases

What is herpes?

Herpes is the name of a family of viruses. Herpes viruses cause various infections and disease in many individuals with or without HIV. These viruses cause outbreaks almost always on the outer surface of the body: cold sores, bladder (tiny bubbles), pain in the genitals, chicken pox and shingles. Cytomegalovirus (CMV), a very serious internal infection in AIDS patients is another type of herpes virus.

Gürtelrose (herpes zoster) - 3d Render
Graphic representation of the Herpes Virus

What are the signs of herpes?

The main types of herpes infections and their signs are described below. If you experience any of these signs, seek medical advice immediately.

HERPES SIMPLE I: People with herpes simplex I are subject to develop herpes and blisters on the lips for a few days or a few weeks. Other symptoms may include fever, fatigue, swollen glands and muscle aches. These signals can be considerably more severe and long lasting in patients with AIDS.

HERPES SIMPLE II: In patients with herpes simplex II is common the appearance of painful sores on the genitals or anus. Before a herpes outbreak, and during it, patients sometimes feel like symptoms of the flu. Also in this case, the symptoms can be considerably more severe and long lasting in people with HIV.

Shingles: People with shingles usually have painful skin rash that usually develop into blisters with liquid content. Shingles is caused by the same virus chickenpox. In fact, it is a reactivation of an old chickenpox infection that occurred many years ago. Shingles attacks are a result of the body's immunity fall, as in HIV patients and in elderly or patients with AIDS.

Can herpes infections be treated?

These infections can be treated, but the virus can not be eliminated

- you can only reduce your activity.

Treatment for a herpes simplex crisis I or II should be started up to six days after the first signs appear, so that it can be contained quickly.

Herpes simplex and herpes zoster are usually treated with a medicine called acyclovir, which is usually prescribed in longs or in ointment.

Can Herpes Infections Be Prevented?

Herpes simplex infections usually become less intense each time they come back, and over time they may disappear spontaneously. Consult your doctor to find out if you need preventive treatment.
Both herpes simplex I and II spread easily when there are wounds.

The doctor talking about shingles

Patient receiving the very bad news of herpes zoster

But they occasionally develop in people who do not have symptoms but are carriers of the virus. People contract herpes through intimate physical contacts such as kissing and intercourse. Herpes I and II wounds can spread between the mouth and the genitals of partners during oral sex. Condoms reduce the chances of transmission during sex. To prevent herpes infections from spreading to other parts of your body, do not scratch or irritate the blisters and see your doctor as soon as you notice a rash.

Many people believe that herpes simplex crises are related to emotional stress. Practicing stress reduction techniques such as meditation or yoga as well as learning skills to better deal with problems can help prevent the reactivation of old herpes infections.

If you have never had chicken pox, you should avoid contact with anyone who has herpes zoster. There is a vaccine for chicken pox, but it has not yet been used on a large scale.

Ask your doctor about the following medicines, vitamins and minerals for the treatment or prevention of herpes infections:

  • Aciclovir It is available in tablets, ointment and injectable solutions; side effects are rare and are limited to nausea and headaches.
  • valacyclovir It is a trial version of acyclovir, which has better oral absorption. There are in Brazil.
  • famciclovir It is a version of acyclovir shows better oral absorbability. There are in Brazil.

There is no cure, because the infection may remain latent for years and
then reactivated. Patients with HIV, because they have immunodeficiency, are more likely to have severe and widespread recurrent infections. It is not that the HIV positive patient is more likely to catch "herpes"; active genital herpes can increase the risk of sexual transmission and acquisition of HIV infection. Anogenital ulcers reduce the epithelial barrier to HIV.

Dirce Bonfim
Infectious disease specialist and associate professor at the School of Medical Sciences -
Pedro Ernesto University Hospital

More Info: "Guide Conducts clinics for STD / AIDS", the National STD / AIDS, Ministry of Health

This material was published in Brazil by the Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association (ABIA) from the series "TREATMENT ISSUES, FACT SHEET - GMHC."

Medical Review: Dr Rosana Del Bianco, Emilio Ribas II infectious disease of the St. Paul and Dr. Varella Dráuzio.

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