Herpes: Understanding the Facts, Symptoms and Prevention

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Herpes is a highly common sexually transmitted disease (STD) with over 70% of the South African population being infected. In this article, Deep Medical Therapeutics will discuss what herpes is, its symptoms and how it can affect your sexual health. We will also share how you can get tested and treated for the infection.

What is herpes?

Herpes is a common viral infection that can be caused by two types of viruses: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).  

HSV-1 is typically associated with oral herpes, which causes cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth or on the face. It can also cause genital herpes through oral sex, although this is less common. HSV-1 is highly contagious and can be easily spread through kissing, sharing utensils or personal items, or coming into contact with saliva or oral secretions.  

HSV-2, on the other hand, is primarily associated with genital herpes. It is transmitted through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. HSV-2 can cause painful blisters or sores on or around the genitals, anus, and mouth, as well as flu-like symptoms such as fever and swollen lymph nodes. 

How common is herpes in South Africa?

South Africa has one of the highest rates of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection in the world with around 70% of the population between the ages of 15 and 49 years old being infected with HSV-1 and 25% being infected with HSV-2.  Herpes can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life, including their sexual and emotional well-being. 

Herpes symptoms

The symptoms of herpes can vary from person to person, and some individuals may not experience any symptoms at all. However, common symptoms of herpes can include painful blisters or sores on or around the genitals, anus, or mouth, as well as flu-like symptoms such as fever and swollen lymph nodes. The first outbreak of herpes is typically the most severe, with subsequent outbreaks being less frequent and less severe. It’s important to note that herpes can be spread even when there are no visible symptoms present, which is why herpes testing and safe sex practices are important.

genital herpes testing

Testing for herpes

It’s important for South Africans to get tested for herpes, especially if they are sexually active. Testing can be done through a blood test or a swab of a sore or blister.  Deep Medical Therapeutics, a medical technology company, offers at-home herpes tests for as little as R250 and a range of other STI tests which can be done at home or at one of our clinics. 

Is herpes curable?

Unfortunately, not. While there is no cure for herpes, antiviral medications can help to reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks, as well as the risk of transmitting the virus to others. It’s also important for individuals with herpes to practice safe sex, including using condoms and disclosing their status to sexual partners. In addition, taking care of yourself, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and reducing stress, can help to manage herpes. According to a study by the University of Cape Town, South Africa, people who practice stress management techniques, such as yoga and meditation, had fewer herpes outbreaks. 

If you test positive for herpes, our doctor at Deep Medical Therapeutics can prescribe treatment to help manage the outbreak.


If you think you may have herpes or if you have been diagnosed with herpes, it’s important to remember that you are not alone! Herpes is a common infection that can be managed with treatment and by practising safe sex. Get tested for herpes with Deep Medical Therapeutics and reduce the impact of herpes on your life and the lives of those around you.

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