Patients with the herpes virus or HSV 1 and the HSV 2 virus usually have a very simple concern. Just how easy is it to spread the virus through direct and indirect contact? Researchers have noted that it is very easy to spread the virus and there is a good chance that the infection will spread in a family or in people living in close contact with each other through direct but unknown means. In this article, we plan to examine the most common methods of spreading HSV and how the transmission works.
Most common method of spreading the virus
It is very easy to spread the virus from one person to another. In fact, the HSV-1 virus enters the body from the primary site of exposure. Take for example, HSV1 that is commonly referred to as oral herpes. This virus is commonly spread through mouth-to-mouth or oral contact. HSV2 on the other hand is referred to genital herpes and it only spreads through sexual contact from one partner to another. This does not mean that the virus will not spread if contact is made with other parts of the body. Transmission does take place but the reproduction rate and infection rate is delayed.
Both HSV1 and HSV2 are extremely contagious but they are doubly dangerous at the time of active infection. For example, during inactive periods when the virus is in hiding inside the body, body fluids do contain minute amounts of the virus. HSV1 is concentrated at about 5% in saliva and HSV2 is concentrated at about 6%-10% in body fluids during inactive periods. Direct contact during this period will transmit the virus. However, during a relapse when the patient is undergoing an active attack of HSV1 and HSV2, the patients is actively shedding almost 80% – 90% of active virus through all types of body fluids.
The frequency of transmission also differs between the HSV1 and HSV2 virus. The transmission of HSV1 occurs faster and easier than HSV2. This is because HSV1 virus is present in saliva and it can be transmitted through a simple kiss. This is considered the main avenue of transmission from one person to another and it is the main type of infection seen in children. Relatives pick up children and kiss them and this inadvertently causes the spread of the infection. The infection spreads faster as children have a weaker immune system that cannot fight off the virus. However, as they grow up the immune system strengthens up. in fact, researchers have noted that by the teen years, almost fifty percent of all US teenagers have the HSV1 antibody floating in their blood stream. By the age of 50, almost 80% to about 90% of the population have active antibodies in their body.
However, this transmission differs completely from the HSV2 infection in which the infection spreads through genital. As a result, HSV2 infections are primarily seen in adults. HSV2 infections take place in sexually active adults. Researchers have noted another fact in which patients who have already developed HSV1 infections are less likely to get HSV2 infections. This is because they already have the HSV antibodies in their blood stream and it provides them a minimal amount of protection. This is not mandatory though as there is a very good chance that patients who have HSV1 will eventually develop HSV2 infections later on.
Another point to note is that HSV1 and HSV2 are not limited the areas mentioned as primary contact areas. It is entirely possible to transmit HSV1 from the mouth to the genital area through oro-genital contact. However, if the HSV2 infection is already present in the genital area, it is much more difficult for the HSV1 to gain a foothold in the area. This should have also been possible in the case of HSV2 in the genital area resulting in an oral HSV2 infection due to orogenital contact. However, this does not happen as frequently as expected. For example, one partner may have genital HSV2 and the other partner performs oral sex. Studies have shown that the other partner very rarely develops oral HSV2 infections. The exact reasoning for this is not know but it is supposed that most patients already have HSV1 antibodies in their blood and it prevents the HSV2 from entering the mouth to cause an infection. This can also be possible that the HSV2 virus prefers the genital area and as a result, cannot infect the oral area due to the HSV1 antibodies already present in almost 80% of the adults population.
This reasoning is confusing but another scenario arises again. One partner acquires HSV1 due to oral sex. If this partner has an oral HSV1 infection and performs oral sex on another person, he transmits the HSV1 infection to the genital area of the other partner. This does happen as the HSV virus finds a non-infected area and it quickly attaches itself to the open receptors.
Overall, there is no significant difference between both the viruses. In fact, both viruses have the same clinical symptoms and signs and cause a similar amount of discomfort. The only difference between both viruses is that HSV1 is transmitted through oral contact while HSV2 is transmitted through sexual contact. Kissing is socially acceptable and as a result, an HSV1 infection does not really garner any social and sexual ostracism.
However, the HSV2 infection is completely different as it is transmitted through genital contact. This means that sexual partners never share this information with each other, as they are ashamed about it. This means that the infection spreads farther and quicker among infected people simply because are afraid to ask for treatment and to control their infection. The simplest way to control the infection would be to educate the public about the infection and what can be done to control it. The medication procedures are simple but increased awareness about preventive measures is required to ensure that the condition does not spread quickly.