The word herpes was coined from the Greek word herpein meaning to creep. Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)is about 180 - 200 nm in diameter and icosahedral in shape. The virus has an envelope, making it more resistant to chemical and physical damage. Herpes Simplex Virus is typically classified under two distinct strains, Type I and Type II, each responsible for a group of symptoms but sharing several common features. The major difference between type I and type II is the site of infection, Type I causing orofacial lesions and Type II causing genital lesions.


In the case of Type I, infection happens in about 80% of the population at a young age and usually causes no symptoms. This is referred to as a sub-clinical infection. The virus is spread by droplet infection. Type II infection is normally sexually transmitted.

HSV I affects the face, causing lesions around the eye and mouth, the latter being more common. Following infection, the virus migrates to the trigeminal nerve and lies there in a dormant state referred to as latency. In the case of HSV II, the virus resides in the sacral area following infection. Stress such as wind, sunburn and fever cause the virus to migrate down to the skin surface such as the lips and multiply rapidly causing the lesions associated with the virus. Cold sores are one such type of clinical manifestation.
Apart from symptomatic treatment of lesions, antiviral treatment plays an important role in the control of such HSV infection. While eradication of the virus is difficult, drugs like Acyclovir, famciclovir, valacyclovir and penvir are used to treat HSV infection.
My roomie had an open sore on her mouth, and never bothered telling me about it until AFTER we shared a fork, lipstick and toothpaste!

A lot of it is my own stupidity. My own blindly trusting belief that no one will give me any diseases when I share personal items with them. I figure if there's anything bad that gets passed to me, my stomach acids will kill the germs since I don't have any open mouth sores. Silly me...

Why is it so socially acceptable to have oral HSV-1 caused herpes? One type of herpes is "just a cold sore" and the other is a social stigma. People tend to think: doesn't everyone have mouth sores/fever blisters every once in a while? Don't people realize that HSV-1 and HSV-2 -- the kind that usually causes genital herpes are extremely similar and can grow in both environments hmm? Specialists have speculated that up to 30% of genital herpes are a result of oral to genital contact and caused by HSV-1. Although HSV-1 caused genital herpes is mild in comparison to HSV-2, it's nothing to brush off lightly. This "good virus" vs "bad virus" mentality is wrong. Both types of virus are capable of causing open sores in the oral cavity and in the genital area, although HSV-1 prefers to hide in the upper body and HSV-2 prefers to hide in the lower half.

Now I'm scared to have oral sex with my boyfriend. At times herpes may still be contagious when you don't have a sore. What if I give him HSV-1 genital herpes? What if he has vaginal sex with me and gives me HSV-1 genital herpes? ARG!

Moral of the story: pay attention to personal hygiene and don't share personal items with ANYONE you don't tongue kiss every day. Don't even trust your sister!

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