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SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS AND DISEASES: OLD AND NEW CHALLENGES - PART II
Guerra B., Puccetti C., Cervi F.
S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection. In reproductive age it involves the additional risk of vertical transmission to the neonate. Rates of transmission are affected by the viral type and whether the infection around delivery is primary or recurrent. Neonatal herpes is a rare but very severe complication of genital herpes infection and is caused by contact with infected genital secretions at the time of labor. Maternal acquisition of herpes simplex virus (HSV) in the third trimester of pregnancy carries the highest risk of neonatal transmission. Prevention of neonatal herpes depends on preventing acquisition of genital HSV infection during late pregnancy and avoiding exposure of the infant to herpetic lesions during delivery. Uninfected woman should be counselled about the need of avoiding sexual contact during the third trimester. Elective caesarean section before the onset of labor is the choice mode of delivery for women with genital lesions or with prodromal symptoms near the term, even if it offers only a partial protection against neonatal infection. Antiviral suppressive therapy is used from 36 weeks of gestation until delivery in pregnant women with recurrences to prevent genital lesions at the time of labor so reducing the need of caesarean sections. Currently, routine maternal serologic screening is not yet recommended. Because most mothers of infants who acquire neonatal herpes lack histories of clinically evident genital herpes, researchers should focus on the recognition of asymptomatic primary genital HSV infections.