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Can HSV-1 cause HSV-2 in your body?

The short answer is no. From a technical perspective at least. However, if we were to look closely at this question, the answer lies in the way you view it. To make you understand our point better, we are going to give you a little background on herpes virus. Herpes simplex virus is the organism that causes herpes infection. There are two types of herpes virus – HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 usually affect the oral region like the mouth and lips and are commonly called cold sores while, HSV-2 usually causes painful blisters around the genital region and are the true genital herpes. HSV-1 is usually transmitted by non-sexual means like sharing cutleries and toothbrushes. HSV-2 is spread mostly through sexual means since it is found around the genitals. HSV-1 We are going to give you reasons from two different point of views on whether HSV-1 can cause HSV-2 or not.

Why HSV-1 cannot cause HSV-2 (a view from the perspective of herpes virus)

REASON 1: HSV-1 is simply not HSV-2

HSV-1 and HSV-2 are like sister viruses – they are closely related. However, this does not make them the same virus. Just like you cannot change a person to his twin brother HSV-1 virus cannot suddenly change to HSV-2 virus. It would take a huge mutation or an engineering feat to change one virus to another. Since natural mutations are mostly random and the mutant organism is not significantly different from the normal (for example, mutation is not likely to turn a monkey to a chimpanzee) there are very low chances of HSV-1 turning into HSV-2

REASON 2: HSV-1 and HSV-2 may not really be friends

Some viruses may not be able to accommodate each other – especially closely-related viruses. Let’s do a test. Can you guess the first vaccine for small pox? It is cowpox which is closely related to small pox. Studies have shown that HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses are not only different, but may not be friendly to each other. While some studies suggest that prior infection with HSV-1 can prevent infection by HSV-2. Studies are quickly refuting this suggestion but, more recent studies are finding that HSV-1 can suppress HSV-2 to the extent that it is not strong enough to show its symptoms. This kind of “enmity” between viruses is not only reserved in herpes but can be seen in other viruses like HIV and as already mentioned pox viruses.

REASON 3: In some special situations, this enemies can cohabit

Even though these viruses seem to be enemy viruses, in some conditions they can live together peacefully. You can see HSV-1 virus as a territorial virus, while HSV-2 seems to be the more benevolent twin sister of HSV-1. Studies suggest that if a person gets HSV-2 viruses before getting HSV-1, the two viruses will most likely live together side by side. This is called coinfection in scientific terms. If a person has HSV-1 virus already, the person may still get infected with HSV-2 but HSV-1 has the tendency to suppress HSV-2 to the extent that it cannot really manifest itself. It is possible to first have HSV-2 which affects the genitals and later have HSV-1 which affects the oral region.

Why HSV-1 can cause HSV-2 (a view from the perspective of herpes disease)

REASON 1: the regions which they affect is not in strict terms

Technically, HSV-1 viruses should be around the oral region and are not usually sexually transmitted – though they can be spread by kissing. HSV-2 viruses on the other hand are found on the genital region, anal region or any other place below the waist and are sexually transmitted. However, this description is not set in stone. Recent studies have started showing that HSV-1 infection of the genitals has actually become more than HSV-2 infection of the genitals. Though this discovery has been going on for more than 10 years now, it can safely be said that HSV-1 which is meant to be around the oral region can now cause symptoms of genital herpes. If we were to look at HSV-1 and HSV-2 in terms of symptoms, we could say it is true that HSV-1 can cause HSV-2.

REASON 2: sexual behaviours can also change the location and symptoms of the viruses

This reason is similar to the first. Herpes viruses are highly contagious whether you have sores or not. Herpes is not curable but it is treatable. Herpes viruses can spread on contact with the virus. Some of the studies which found HSV-1 viruses in genital herpes blamed this on the possible increase in oral sex. However, the fact remains that it is possible to see HSV-1 virus on the genitals and HSV-2 virus on the oral region as earlier said. In this sense HSV-1 can cause HSV-2

In conclusion, it is noteworthy to state that HSV-1 is not the same virus as HSV-2 and is unlikely to change to HSV-2 at any point in time. If we are to look at it this way, we can say that HSV-1 cannot cause HSV-2. However, HSV-1 can be found in the genital region which HSV-2 is normally found and can cause Herpes infection in the genital region. In this way, we can say that “HSV-1 can cause HSV-2”.

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James Wichiki

Working secretly alongside Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Stripe and Amazon.

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