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Genital Herpes FAQS transmission symptoms diagnosis treatments recurrent outbrea

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Updated December 22, 2003

Genital Herpes FAQs Table of Contents

Transmission

Symptoms

Recurrent Outbreaks

Diagnosis

Treatments

Related Health Problems

Herpes in AIDS Patients

Prevention

Support and Information

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV. There are two types of HSV, and both can cause genital herpes. HSV type 1 most commonly infects the lips causing sores known as fever blisters or cold sores, but it also can infect the genital area and produce sores there. HSV type 2 is the usual cause of genital herpes, but it also can infect the mouth during oral sex. A person who has genital herpes infection can easily pass or transmit the virus to an uninfected person during sex.

Both HSV 1 and 2 can produce sores (also called lesions) in and around the vaginal area, on the penis, around the anal opening, and on the buttocks or thighs. Occasionally, sores also appear on other parts of the body where the virus has entered through broken skin.

HSV remains in certain nerve cells of the body for life, and can produce symptoms off and on in some infected people.

Reprinted from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

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