Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that targets the mouth and reproductive organs of the body. The disease is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which has two types: type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2).
HSV-1 is known to cause oral herpes, which infects the lips and mouth. Symptoms include cold sores and fever blisters. HSV-1 is not considered an STD by many healthcare experts, but it is still a serious health concern.
HSV-2, better known as genital herpes, is more severe than its oral counterpart. It affects the genital area, unlike HSV-1, which is limited to the mouth and causes lesions, including blisters and sores, on the skin. HSV-2 can only be contracted by skin-on-skin contact with an infected person. To contract HSV-2, you must come into direct contact with either the mucous membranes from or an exposed cut of an infected individual.
Having one type of HSV does not guarantee that you have the other one too. The two types act independently of each other and even target different areas. However, it is still possible to have both if you contract them at the same time, but one cannot cause the other.
Herpes in Nigeria
Nigeria is in the midst of a healthcare crisis; the rates of genital herpes in Nigeria are higher than in any other country with an estimate of 77.8% of adults being carriers of HSV-2. Older people have a higher prevalence of the disease, with the 51-60 year age group having the greatest rate of disease occurrence. The rates of prevalence are higher in unemployed people than in those with jobs.
Pregnant women also experience cases of HSV-2. A survey carried out in Benin, Nigeria, showed that a staggering 46.3% of consenting pregnant women from a sample population were HSV-2 positive.
Diagnosis of Herpes
Herpes is diagnosed by either one or a combination of the following methods:
- Viral Culture: A lab test is conducted on a sore or tissue sample from the patient.
- Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): This method is used to replicate your DNA from a sample of your blood, sore tissue, or spinal fluid. The resulting DNA is then tested for HSV.
- Blood test: a blood sample is tested for the presence of HSV antibodies.
An expert physician, especially one working in a region densely affected by herpes, can also diagnose the disease based on a simple physical exam.
Portable Herpes Test Kits
Due to the strong prevalence of HSV in Nigeria, the government and many organizations have made efforts to make self-examination common. Luckily, this can easily be done with the help of portable herpes test kits.
These kits contain testing materials like cotton swabs and test tubes, as well as shipping envelopes. A person who suspects an infection must collect either a sore tissue sample or mucus sample and send it to the given address marked on the kit inside the special envelope provided inside the package. After a few days, you can access the test results online.
If you’re worried about being infected, but feel uncomfortable about going to the hospital, this is the perfect choice for you!
Challenges Associated with Treating Herpes in Nigeria
Nigeria is suffering from a herpes epidemic. Despite efforts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other NGOs, the virus still runs rampant amongst the Nigerian people. There are several challenges associated with the eradication of HSV in Nigeria.
Firstly, Nigeria is a developing country with the highest levels of poverty in the world, overtaking other developing nations like India and Ethiopia. This poverty is the primary reason why it has become so difficult to eliminate herpes from the area.
Due to poverty, the Nigerian people face a severe shortage of medication as well as testing methods. Their overall lack of education has led to most adults being unaware of the dangers of herpes. This lack of awareness prevents them from practicing safe sex, which increases the likelihood of HSV contraction.
Those who are aware of the symptoms of HSV often have limited methods of confirming it. There is both a shortage of hospitals and testing kits in the region. Even the efforts made by NGOs are insufficient to confront the healthcare issues faced by the 86.9 million people living in poverty in Nigeria.
Additionally, the shortage of clean water and the prevalence of unhygienic conditions have led to an increase in HSV cases as the majority of Nigerians cannot afford to practice good hygiene. Due to poverty, many people also cannot afford contraceptives and are thus exposed to diseases that are transmitted through direct contact with genital sores and mucus.
Interestingly, HSV sometimes appears with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Reports say that HSV-2 makes it easier for people to contract HIV, but making it harder to treat them because of the compromised state HIV puts their immune system in. This is by far the most complicated challenge faced by healthcare providers trying to eliminate HSV in Nigeria.
An individual affected by HSV-2, as well as HIV, cannot be treated the way a person with only HSV-2 would. Using excessive medication would harm the patient more than help them because of how weak HIV/AIDS has made their body.
Nigeria is severely affected by herpes, which is caused by HSV. It is a viral disease that cannot be treated with antibiotics, making treatment harder than initially anticipated by healthcare experts. The majority of adults in Nigeria suffer from HSV, especially HSV-2, which affects the genital area.
Despite the efforts of multiple NGOs, termination of herpes seems near impossible due to the widespread challenges that affect Nigerians. There is no exact solution for the condition, but medical experts around the world are working towards a cure.